Meyer Fortes: Ashanti Social Survey

Scope and Content

Papers relating mainly to Fortes's research in Ashanti, 1945-46, with some additional material.

[1] Blank questionnaires on standards of living, agriculture, education, households, land disputes and destoolments, marriage and divorce, Gold Coast census, occupations, and the wartime social survey; questionnaire B, biographies of some residents of Kumasi.

[2] Questionnaires: statistics on school children, families, tribes, fathers' occupations, teachers, employment of school leavers, and Gold Coast and Sierra Leone students going to school in Britain.

[3] Questionnaire E: food and cocoa farms, results from 37 places.

[4] Farms: land tenure, lists of crops grown, and farm boundaries.

[5] Households: composition, size, and occupation of head of household.

[6] Labour: questionnaires on weaving, lists of occupations, and emigration; political and land boundaries.

[7] Genealogy of Wagadongon, Agogo, Asona, Asokore chiefs, and kinship classification.

[8] Marriage: Ashanti marriage and divorce, funeral celebrations, and Agogo village interview with the mother of the Queen Mother; copy of T. Kyei's diary, fetishes, anti-witchcraft cult, puberty rites, and field notes from various places on family and household matters; and Fortes' daily diary, 1945.

[9] Tribal matters: daily diaries of members of compounds, distribution of households in Ashanti villages, age distribution in Asokore, history and customs of Mo people, Agogo, Obogu, and Agogo politics, interview with Agogo Queen Mother, and notes on Ashanti including chiefdom, political structure, class, economy, law, etc.

[10] Marriage, cross-cousin marriage; interchange of meals at Agogo, kinship and family relationships.

[11] Justice: customs in courts, proceedings from cases, witchcraft ordeals, Gold Coast shrines, and fetishes; Ashanti Confederacy Council, treasury, revenue and debt, land disputes, and succession law; and gold weights and miners.

[12] Other people's articles, papers and notes: (1) 'Ashanti conception of the human personality'; (2) Enstoolment of chiefs in Ashanti community; (3) Ashanti social organisation; (4-11) Papers from a workshop on the Akan (1978): (4) Programme; (5) D. Maier, '[19th century] Asante medical practices...'; (6) R.A. Kea, 'Social and spatial aspects of production in Southern Ghana [16th & 17th century]'; (7) Thomas Lewin, 'Notes on current research on spacial organisation, maps, and power in [19th century] Asante'; (8) J. Berry and L. Yarak, 'Linguistics and Akan historical reconstruction'; (9) A. Norman Klein, 'The ideological significance of Akan matriliny'; (10) T.C. McCaskie, '...Social history of anti-witchcraft cults in [20th century] Asante... observations on Aberewa and Hwe me so'; and (11) Ivor Wilks, 'The development of early Akan society: some tentative reflections'.

[13] Miscellaneous papers: (1) A.F.B. Bridges, 'Report on oil palm survey - Ibo, Ibibio and Cross River areas', 1938; (2) A.F.B. Bridges, 'Report on oil palm survey - Western Provinces', 1939; (3) 'Achimota College...proposed Institute of West African Arts, Industries and Social Science', 1942; (4) 'Anglo-French collaboration in West Africa. [4th] bulletin of information on French affairs in West Africa', 1950; (5) C.A.G. Willis (collected), 'Survey...development of local government in...African territories since 1947...African Studies Branch. IV. Uganda', with other papers on Ugandan local government c.1947-52; (6-7) [Uganda] Toro, Acholi Districts, Annual Reports, 1955; (8-12) Papers on Ugandan local government; (13) John Middleton, 'Some notes...Lugbara', 1951 [Uganda]; (14) 'Birth of a country' [Uganda], c.1953; (15) A. Norman Klein, 'Structural consequences of 'slavery' and 'pawnage' in precolonial Ashanti social and economic structure', undated; (16) Mrs. A.M. Bishop and Miss D. Russell, 'A history... Upper Nile diocese', undated. [Uganda]; (17) Raymond Firth, 'History of modern social anthropology', c.1962; (18) Max Gluckman, 'Communications...Rhodes-Livingstone Institute. No.1. Administrative organisation of the Barotse native authorities with a plan for reforming them', Northern Rhodesia, 1943; (19) W.V. Brelsford, 'Communications...No.2. Aspects of Bemba chieftainship', 1944; (20) E.G. Hawkesworth, 'Report...Okun and Afaha clans...Ikot Ekpene division, Calabar Province', 1931 [Nigeria]; (21) Peter Abrahams, 'The conflict of culture in Africa', undated; (22) Ethnological extract from Schweinfurth's Heart of Africa, Frewer's translation, 1873; and (23) Map from E. Cayeux, Cte est de Madagascar..., 1898.

[14] Miscellaneous papers from the African Studies Centre Library. (1) H. Childs, 'Intelligence report...western district of Ibadan Division, Oyo Province', Nigeria, 1934; (2) E.N.C. Dickinson, 'Intelligence report Ibadan', Nigeria c.1936; (3) Colonial Office, African Studies branch, Digest...African local government land tenure and native law, nos.1-4 1947-48; with Charles Mathew, 'African customary law and courts', 1947, 'A Belgian method of reducing native customary law to writing preliminary to codification', and George Sinclair, 'Consulting public opinion in the Gold Coast', 1947; (4) Chapter plan for The economy of the Gold Coast and Nigeria; (5) Notes on Attilio Gatti, Hidden Africa, ch. VII, 'The mystery of the "Lactatio serotina"', 1933; (6) notes on A. de Preville, The African continent, from 'La science socialle'; (7) List of public primary and middle schools. Upper region. 1968-69, Ghana, statistics; (8) Meyer Fortes, notes on 'African workers. Marriage'; and (9) Minutes, Fabian Colonial Bureau Advisory Committee, 1947.

Administrative / Biographical History

Meyer Fortes (1906-83), anthropologist, was Head of the Sociological Department, Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana), 1944-46; Reader in Social Anthropology, Oxford University, 1946-50; and William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, 1950-73. He was a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, 1950-83. Fortes conducted field research in several parts of Africa, including Ashanti, Gold Coast, 1945-46.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the African Studies Centre Library, [1-13] 1996; [14] 1990.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Summary Catalogue. A full list catalogue is also available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Custodial History

The miscellaneous papers from the African Studies Centre Library [14] were placed originally with the Meyer Fortes papers (MS.Add.8405), and replaced in MS.Add.9359 in 1996.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds other correspondence and papers of Meyer Fortes, MS.Add.8405 (access is presently restricted).

Geographical Names