Perham Conference Papers, 1989

Scope and Content

Papers given at a conference held in honour of Dame Margery Perham at RhodesHouse, 3rd-4th July 1989, following the completion of the catalogue of thePerham Papers by Patricia Pugh.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dame Margery Freda Perham (1895-1982), writer and lecturer on Africanaffairs, was born in Bury, Lancashire, brought up in Harrogate, Yorkshire andachieved an open scholarship to St. Hugh's College, Oxford in 1914. In 1917she was appointed Assistant Lecturer at Sheffield University. A lifelongpreoccupation with Africa began in 1922 when she visited her sister inSomaliland. She returned to St. Hugh's in 1924 as official fellow and tutor inmodern history and in the school of philosophy, politics and economics. In1929 she accepted a year's travel grant by the Rhodes trustees to return toAfrica, where she spent more than five years, travelling extensively. At thesame time, she became actively involved in lobbying on the subject of colonialaffairs, defending the High Commission territories and championing 'indirectrule'. In 1939 she became the first official, and female, fellow of NuffieldCollege in Oxford, and was also elected Reader in Colonial Administration, apost she held until 1948. Her teaching at this time was almost entirely devotedto the first and second Devonshire courses for colonial servants, though latershe played a part in the development of universities for the new Africanleaders and experts, and helped in the initiation of the Oxford ColonialRecords Project.

In Oxford she became the nucleus and memoranda-writer for a group whichsecured government funds and asserted the university's role in colonialstudies. Her books, reports and papers provided the basis for the OxfordInstitute of Colonial Studies, to which she was appointed Director,1945-1948. Her published works include Native Administration in Nigeria(London, Oxford University Press, 1937) and Lugard...The life ofFrederick Dealtry Lugard, etc.. (London, Collins, 1956), West Africanpassage. a journey through Nigeria, Chad, and the Cameroons,1931-1932 , ed. A.H.M. Kirk-Greene (London, Peter Owen, 1983), andPacific prelude. a journey to Samoa and Australasia, 1929 , ed. A.H.M.Kirk-Greene (London, Owen, 1988). She also helped plan the project whichemerged as An African Survey. A study of problems arising in Africa southof the Sahara by Lord Hailey, etc. (London, Oxford University Press,1938). She was also a prolific broadcaster and correspondent on colonialmatters. An honorary fellow of universities throughout Great Britain, and ofMakerere in Kampala, Uganda, she was the first president of the AfricanStudies Association and was appointed CBE, DCMG and FBA.


The papers are arranged in the order that they were given rather than accordingto the provisional timetable in file 1. There are summaries of the papers infile 4 and eight audio-cassette tapes recording the proceedings in box 2.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 824 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Related Material

Papers of Dame Margery Perham, 1881-1982 (ref. MSS. Perham); transcript of atape-recording made by Sir James Wilson Robertson with Dame Perham onservice in the Sudan, 1922-1953 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 802); correspondence of Dame Margery Perham withGeorge C. Turner regarding affairs of East Africa, [1944-1945] (ref. MSS. Afr.s. 643); letter from David Boyle to Dame Margery Perham, 1968, concerning the Queen Mother ofDjesu and the Ashanti rising of 1900 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1204 (1)); recordedconversation between Dame Margery Perham and J.J. Tawney primarily concerningTanganyika, 1972, with transcript (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1466).

Geographical Names