Papers of Edward Harland Duckworth

Scope and Content

The collection contains:

  • Diaries
  • Letters, including correspondence between Duckworth and his family
  • Articles and broadcasts
  • Notebooks, containing notes, drafts, sketches, diagrams, etc., including information about the Lagos boys camp
  • Photographs reflecting Duckworth's travels and activities; many were taken to record archaeological finds and modern crafts and to illustrate articles in Nigeria and other publications
  • Papers relating to education in Nigeria
  • Printed material, correspondence and reviews relating to The Nigerian Teacher and Nigeria
  • Presscuttings about Nigerian affairs taken from African, British and American publications and including some references to Duckworth and his activities
  • Paintings, sketches and linocuts, mainly by Nigerian artists and school children (including E. Okaybulu, B.C. Enwonwu, Akinola Lasekan, C.C. Ibeto, Giwa, Awokoya and D.S. Banjo)

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Harland Duckworth was educated in England at Cheltenham College; the City and Guilds Engineering College in Finsbury, and the Royal College of Science, Imperial College, University of London. After serving with the Royal Engineers during World War I, Duckworth returned to London University where he took an honours degree in Chemistry and became an Associate of the Royal College of Science, he then devoted a further year to the study of botany.

Duckworth took temporary teaching posts at Cheltenham, Haileybury and Wellingborough before accepting a post at Dean Close School in Cheltenham where he was involved in developing the science department. The Board of Education showed an interest in the work being done at Dean Close and in 1930 suggested Duckworth's name to E.R.J. Hussey, Director of Education in Nigeria; Hussey was looking for someone to take charge of the development of science in Nigeria and to serve as an adviser in matters relating to science teaching and technical education. This new post, Inspector of Education, was offered to Duckworth and in October 1930 he sailed for Lagos. His first year was spent teaching science at the Government Colleges at Ibadan and Umahia. He was then attached to the staff at the headquarters of the Education Department in Lagos where he worked closely with Hussey in the development of science teaching. His first tasks were to plan and equip the science department of Yaba Higher College (which had been established in 1934) and to give advice to those Missions which wanted to introduce science teaching in their schools.

In 1933 Hussey asked Duckworth to edit a new magazine for African teachers which was to replace the Bulletin of Educational Affairs. This new magazine, which was illustrated with Duckworth's own photographs, was initially called The Nigerian Teacher but was re-named Nigeria in 1936 to reflect the widening scope of the magazine.

In 1942 Duckworth started a boys camp near Igboshere village, 4 miles from Lagos, which ran weekend camps for destitute boys from Lagos. He also turned his attention to improving the health and living conditions in Igboshere and starting a new type of school there which was linked with village life; this school aroused a great deal of interest, especially amongst educationalists. In 1944 the post of Inspector of Education was abolished and Duckworth was officially designated "Editor of Nigeria and Organiser of Exhibitions". He retired in 1953 and went to live with his sister in Cheltenham, England. He died on the 14 January 1972.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


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

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room and a handlist is also available for this collection.

Listed as no. 504 in Manuscript Collections (Africana and non-Africana) in Rhodes House Library, Oxford, Supplementary accessions to the end of 1977 and Cumulative Index, compiled by Wendy S. Byrne (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1978).

Conditions Governing Use

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

Custodial History

Deposited with the Oxford Colonial Records Project.