Jan Vansina Papers
Scope and Contents
The Jan Vansina Papers fill 136 boxes and span the years 1718-2010. The collection is made up of working files containing field notes, correspondence, photographs, maps, manuscripts, drafts, and more used by Vansina in his research, writing, and teaching during his over fifty years of professional activity.
The papers are divided into nine series preceded by Box 1 which contains biographical materials. The nine sections are: Research Notes Libya: Oral History of the Italo-Libyan war (1911-1933); Other Research Topics and Data; Central Africa: Documents about Ethnography and History; Professional Correspondence; Teaching Records; Papers Given at Various Events; Offprints; Around Vansina’s works; Personal (closed until January 1, 2030).
Research Notes Libya: Oral History of the Italo-Libyan war (1911-1933)-boxes 2-3: This section contains research methods, procedures, and the interview tool used to collect the oral histories. Also included are maps, general information on the Libyan Studies Centre, and related essays on Libya.
Other Research Topics and Data-boxes 2-10: This segment is made up of general research and reference materials arranged by these subjects: Religious Movements; Bantu Linguistic Materials; Agricultural History; African Art; Ambundu Religion; Oral Tradition; and Governance.
Central Africa: Documents about Ethnography and History-boxes 11-85: This is the largest section in the collection and represents the core focus of Vansina’s professional career: Central Africa. While there are some sections arranged by subject headings such as Ethnography, Historiography, and General History, the bulk of the files are grouped by country and/or geographic region.
Professional Correspondence (1953-1997)-boxes 85-112: The content is predominantly incoming, with the occasional copy of outgoing letters. The files include essays, ephemera, memos, notes, etc. that were part of the ongoing exchanges. This series is closed for a period of 30 years, concluding December 2047.
Teaching Records (1959-1994)-boxes 112-117: This section contains material used by Vansina in teaching his many courses from all stages of his academic career. The contents include syllabi, reading lists, exams, and more. There is also a section containing course material from colleagues and former students.
Papers Given at Various Events (1960-2009)-boxes 117-120: This series holds copies of papers Vansina presented in various professional settings. The papers are written in Dutch, English, and French. These are mostly typescripts, often with manuscript notes and corrections.
Offprints-boxes 120-122: This series is made up of individual offprints of Vansina’s many articles. They include official offprints and photocopies of articles.
Around Vansina’s works-boxes 122-134: This section contains research material and drafts for Vansina’s monographs, both published and unpublished. The contents include drafts, notes, edits and are mostly typescripts with manuscript notes and corrections.
Personal (closed until January 1, 2015)-boxes 134-135: This section contains material relating to curricula vitae, salaries, annual reports, grants, honors, fellowships, and some personal correspondence.
Box 135 and 136 contain legal sized manuscripts from eariler series.
- Other: Date acquired: 07/31/2010
- Vansina, Jan (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
The Personal series is closed until January 1, 2030. The Professional Correspondence series is closed for a period of 30 years, ending December 2047. To inquire about access to this collection, please contact the Herskovits Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval.
Language of Materials
Jan Vansina was born in Antwerp, Belgium on September 14, 1929 and received his Ph.D. in history from the University Leuven in 1957. He is a major figure in the study of Africa. He published twenty monographs, over two hundred articles, and was the co-author, editor, compiler, annotator etc. of many other works. His extensive fieldwork and study of oral tradition established the context and methodologies for reconstructing African history through the use of oral tradition. The Jan Vansina Papers fill 136 boxes and span the years 1718-2010. The collection is made up of working files containing field notes, correspondence, photographs, maps, manuscripts, drafts, and more used by Vansina in his research, writing, and teaching during his over fifty years of professional activity.
The papers of Jan Vansina follow his original arrangement. They are organized into: biographical; research notes Libya:other research topics and data (religious movements, Bantu linguistic materials, agricultural history, African art, Ambundu religion, oral tradition); Central Africa: documents about ethnography and history (chiefly arranged by country, but not in alphabetical order); professional correspondence (arranged alphabetically by correspondent); teaching records (arranged by institution); papers given at various events (arranged by date); offprints (in chronological order); around Vansina’s works (by title, but not in alphabetical order); personal (closed until January 1, 2015).
Source of Acquisition
Method of Acquisition
The Jan Vansina papers were donated by Professor Vansina to the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University, in August 2010.
- Guide to the Jan Vansina Papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Repository
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