[AFRICA South-Eastern] John Arrowsmith's map of South Eastern Africa comprehending the Eastern Provinces of the Cape of Good Hope, Kafraria, Natal, Bichuana & other countries, annotated by David Livingstone

Scope and Content

H98 x W66cm, printed, paper mounted on canvas. Annotations in Livingstone's hand.

This much damaged map of 1850 by the London cartographer John Arrowsmith was amongst David Livingstone's most valued possessions when he undertook his first journey to the Zambesi in 1851. With its southern part largely based on previous maps by Arrowsmith, it was at that time the most up-to-date map of the interior of southern Africa that was available. Apart from being used by Livingstone as a source of information, it also played a major role in preserving for posterity, the explorer's 1851 manuscript map of the Zambesi - see CWM Map E 1:5 (1A).

The map displays two uncommon features which are also peculiar to other maps by Arrowsmith: On the left-hand side the map frame is interrupted to make provision for the inclusion of important information situated outside the neat lines of the map (in this instance the LMS mission stations Griqua Town and Kuruman, here misspelt as Kruman). At the top (north of 24º South), an additional unframed sheet of paper was added to the map to depict new information which had only recently become available (here Livingstone's 1849 discovery of Lake Ngami). In 1851 Livingstone used this add-on to depict a few salt pans and rivers north of Lake Ngami, as well as his route towards the Zambesi from the River Zouga.

The pencil and ink annotations are in Livingstone's own hand and indicate place names, the names of farms and their owners, and distances measured in days per ox-waggon. These insertions all occur on the left-hand side of the map and pertain to either the waggon-route from Kuruman further south towards Cape Town, or the route from Kolobeng (Livingstone's mission station in present-day Botswana) northwards towards the Zambesi.

After Livingstone had completed his 1851 manuscript sketch map of Barotseland, he stuck his sketch onto the face of this map and sent it with messengers to Kuruman to be forwarded to the LMS in London. The most probable reason for using his Arrowsmith map as backing, was that it was printed on linen which would reinforce the durability of his sketch map. Only a copy of the latter went to London whereas Livingstone presented the original map (plus the Arrowsmith map affixed to it), to the Rev William Thompson in Cape Town. From Cape Town the map(s) went to London where they were damaged by German bombardment during World War II.

When the remaining sections of the map(s) were pieced together after the War, the back of the Arrowsmith map was affixed to brown paper. After carefully separating the three layers (manuscript map, printed map and brown paper), the face of the Arrowsmith map, albeit damaged and incomplete, again became visible. Today it can be studied as a document which played an exceptional, dual role in making the interior of south-central Africa known to the world.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Livingstone served as a missionary in Africa with the London Missionary Society from 1840 to 1857. During this time he undertook a number of expeditions into previously unmapped territory. Details of his journeys were documented in his work, Missionary travels and researches in south Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda, on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi, to the eastern ocean (London : John Murray, 1857).

Access Information

Apply to the CWM Archivist for permission to view the map

Restrictions Apply

Acquisition Information

Transferred to SOAS Library from the Council for World Mission headquarters in 2007.

Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by Council for World Mission

Custodial History

Prior to its conservation in 2007, the printed map was fragmented and the fragments adhered to brown paper. The description on the reverse (prepared by Irene Fletcher, former LMS archivist, Dec 1956), read: "Livingstone Map, the back of. This is the map on which Livingstone pasted a sheet of clear paper to use for his Barotseland map. The whole, blitzed in 1941, survived in fragments. The Barotseland portion was soaked off the map used as a backing, and detached..."

Related Material

For the original manuscript map prepared by David Livingstone, which is thought to have been attached to this printed map, see CWM Map E 1:5 (1A).