Sudan Archive

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 33 SAD[135]
  • Dates of Creation
      ca.1880 onwards.
  • Language of Material
      English ; Arabic
  • Physical Description
      1000 boxes of papers, 50,000 photographs, 136 cinefilms, 1,000 maps, museum objects and a large amount of related printed material.

Scope and Content

The Sudan Archive was founded in 1957, the year after Sudanese independence, to collect and preserve the papers of administrators from the Sudan Political Service, missionaries, soldiers, business men, doctors, agriculturalists, teachers andothers who had served or lived in the Sudan during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. It comprises over 330 individual collections of official, semi-official and private papers of British men and women. Each collection is named after the donor who isusually the creator of the records. The collections vary in size from one file to 180 boxes. All levels of colonial society are represented, from Assistant District Commissioner to Governor-General and senior officers of government, as well as fromthe technical and medical services, the army and the church. The core period covered is 1898-1955, but there is a significant amount of Mahdist material as well as papers relating to the military campaigns of the 1880s and 1890s, while in recentyears the scope of the Archive has extended to the period after independence and now contains material up to the present day. Moreover, as officials were frequently seconded or posted to neighbouring countries, or simply passed through them onleave, the Archive also holds substantial numbers of papers relating to Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria and African states bordering on the Sudan.

In addition to official and personal papers (correspondence, reports and memoranda, trek notes and diaries, letters home and so on), collections may include a variety of records in other formats such as photographic images (prints, lantern slidesand 35mm slides), cinefilms from the 1920s to the 1960s, sound recordings, maps, museum objects and a large amount of related printed material. Most of the material is in English, with a small amount in Arabic.

Access Information

The material is open for consultation, with the exception of a small number of files containing personal or sensitive material, which have been closed for a specified period.

Other Finding Aids

Separate catalogues exist for all the collections, approximately half of which are online (links to individual online catalogues are given in the online Summary guide). The following have been published and can be ordered by post or consultedonline:

  • Summary guide to the Sudan Archive, containing a brief description of each of the collections, price £5 (also available online at Summaryguide), with links to all Sudan catalogues available online
  • Volume one of the Catalogue of the papers of General Sir Reginald Wingate (1861-1953), covering domestic Sudanese affairs from 1883 to 1916, price £10
  • Handlist of Arabic manuscripts and lithographs by R.L. Hill, price £5
  • 30,000 of the Archive's photographic images are available on a database, linked to catalogue entries, which is accessible only in Durham. Freetext and keyword searching of the database is possible.
  • An integrated list of maps in the Africa 1:250,000 series for the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan is available. All other maps, including hand-drawn military maps from the 19th century campaigns, are described in the lists of the appropriate individualcollections. There is also a brief integrated list of the museum objects, arranged under the name of the donor.
  • Subject lists have been drawn up to assist with some of the most popular enquiries. These draw together in one list material from a range of collections on such topics as the Darfur Campaign, Education, General Gordon, Health and Medicine,the 1924 Mutiny, the Nile Campaigns, the Egyptian Army and the Sudan Defence Force, Slavery, and Material in the Sudan Archive on Countries other than the Sudan.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

The Sudan grey literature collection, which is housed with the Archive in the Palace Green Section of the Library consists of reports, pamphlets, periodicals and offprints on a wide variety of subjects such asclimatology, botany, medicine, women, irrigation, archaeology, railways, education, missions, as well as reports of government departments, university calendars and statistics, directories of government employees, etc. Series of journals include The Sudan Government Gazette (1899-1955), Egypt and the Sudan Diocesan Review (1924-1944) and The Diocesan Review (1949-1973). Catalogue entries for thismaterial are incorporated in the Library's printed catalogue.


Daly, M.W. and Forbes, L.E. [compiled by] The Sudan: photographs from the Sudan Archive, Durham University Library (Reading, 1994) Daly, M. W. and Hogan, Jane R. Images of Empire: photographic sources for the British in the Sudan (Leiden, 2005)  Forbes, L.E., The Sudan Archive, Durham, as a source for the study of modernization in the Sudan in Daly, M.W., ed. Modernization in the Sudan: essays in honor of RichardHill (New York, 1985), 161-70  Sharkey, H.J., Beyond the Sudan Archive: a guide to doing research on the Sudan in Durham, Sudan studies, 13, (January 1993), 10-19