ADAM, Virginia, b 1938, anthropologist

Scope and Content

Papers relating to the anthropological work of Virginia Adam in central Tanzania, East Africa, 1953-1963, mainly in the Isanzu region, including field notes, 1961-1963, relating to the social composition of Isanzu villages, food gathering, family and tribal relationships, property, justice, music, education and medicine; general fieldwork sources for the district book of Iramba, 1961-1963, including lists of chiefs, descriptions of native authorities, and maps of the Isanzu and Iambi territories; extracts from, and notes on, articles relating to the land and characteristics of Tanzania, 1960-1962; notes by Adam on the structure and purpose of her fieldwork, 1961-1963; files of notes by Adam on various subjects, 1960-1963, including the Beattie and Tonga tribes, kinship and social networks, child care methods and the position of women in Isanzu, community development projects such as road building and literacy campaigns, tribal economy, a survey of the Mukato village, village expenditure, Isanzu and Iramba rituals mainly relating to birth, marriage and death, the composition of clans with their mythologies and customs, household economy, various aspects of kinship, numbers of livestock held by certain individuals and villages, agriculture, inheritance laws of various tribes, crafts and specialisation, court procedures of the district, rainmaking rituals, the Mangola tribe, and land ownership and local descent groups in Kirumi, medicine, pregnancy and childbirth, and education; notebooks in the Ihanzu language, 1961-1963; a file of notes on village economy, 1953-1957, including notes on traditional systems of African agriculture taken from a World Health Organisation/FAO course in human nutrition; drafts and typescripts of a paper on the organisation of labour, 1961-1963, with a typescript giving a description of an Ihanzu village economy; correspondence with members of the East African Institute of Social Research, 1961-1963, including correspondence between Adam and Audrey Richards concerning terms of employment and areas of research; typescript papers written by Adam on aspects of village life in Tanzania, [1961-1963]; quarterly reports compiled by Adam, October-December 1961 and Aug-Sep 1962, giving details of survey work in the Isanzu region, notably the village of Mukato and the Mbulu district; papers relating to the population of regions within Tanzania, 1961, notably extracts from the 1957 population census, giving a breakdown of male, female and total population numbers by tribe; typescript diaries kept by Adam during her time with the Isanzu, 1961-1963.

Administrative / Biographical History

Virginia Adam was born in 1938 and educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and Newnham College, Cambridge University. Following graduation in 1960 she became an Assistant Research Fellow at the Applied Research Unit of the East African Institute of Social Research. The Applied Research Unit, set up to produce research which would be of use to government departments as well as the University, was largely financed by the Ford Foundation. Virginia Adam's project, under the direction of Dr Derrick Stenning, was intended both to supply information to the Community Development Department and to supply facts about a largely unknown area of central Tanzania. From 1961-1963, she took part in the daily life of her study area in Tanzania, investigating the myths, legends and history of the tribes that she studied. Adam worked at University College London from 1964.


The collection retains the order in which it was created by Virginia Adam, mainly in files according to subject.

Access Information


Other Finding Aids

Printed handlist and online catalogue available.

Archivist's Note

Sources: British Library of Political and Economic Science catalogue. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by British Library of Political and Economic Science. Most documents may be photocopied.

Custodial History

Given by Dr Todd Sanders in 1997.

Related Material

The BLPES also holds the papers of Dr Audrey Isabel Richards relating to anthropology in Tanzania (Ref: Richards).

Geographical Names