Collection of Material Commemorating the Independence of Sierra Leone, 1961

Scope and Content

The collection includes photographs taken in Sierra Leone at the time of independence, programme of the independence day celebrations, and pamphlets, brochures and magazines commemorating the celebration of independence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sierra Leone lies in West Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia. It became an independent nation on 27 April 1961. Prior to that it had been a British possession.

Sierra Leone had become Africa's first modern nation when freed slaves from America, Britain, and elsewhere in Africa were resettled there around Freetown from 1787 until the nineteenth century. The Sierra Leone Company had been formed in 1791 and it administered the settlement there until 1808 when it became a Crown Colony. In 1896 the British set up a Protectorate over the hinterland of Freetown, the capital.

Sierra Leone has substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, with minerals as diverse as diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, and chromite. Even so, the country is quite poor with an underdeveloped economic and social infrastructure and great inequality in income distribution. In July 2002 its population was estimated as 5,614,743. Of these, 60 per cent were Muslim, 30 per cent followed indigenous beliefs, and some 10 per cent were Christian. Since 1991, civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (well over one-third of the population) many of whom are now refugees in neighbouring countries

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Material acquired March 1986, Accession no. E86.12.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using various encyclopaedias and freely available information.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to material related to Sierra Leone (check the Indexes for more details): slavery in Sierra Leone mentioned in a letter of T. Perronet Thompson to R. Watson, 1824, at Dc.4.101-103; and Sierra Leone mentioned in a letter of R. Hay to Sir C. Stuart, Baron de Rothesay, 1829, at Dk.6.25/77. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes this Sierra Leone related material: mission papers, 1803-1914, Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department, Ref. CMS/A1 NRA 7630 CMS Sierra Leone.


Geographical Names