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Program of African Studies Lecture Series Audiotapes

 Collection
Identifier: 75/35/1

Scope and Contents

The Northwestern University Archives’ collection of audiotapes from the Program of African Studies lectures dates from the period 1965-1979. Soon after its own establishment, the Program initiated a "Monday Night Lecture Series." This series sponsored speakers to visit Northwestern’s Africa House (or another lecture hall if an unusually large crowd was anticipated) and speak on some topic relating to Africa. The variety of speakers is extremely wide, ranging from academics to political figures to authors and artists.

The tape recordings found here date from the period when Gwendolen M. Carter was director of the Program of African Studies, with Ibrahim Abu-Lughod as her associate director. Carter became director of the program in 1964, just before the audio tapes of the lecture series begin. It seems apparent that the recordings in this collection do not represent all of the Program lectures held during the period 1965-1974. Some years hold considerably fewer lecture tapes than others. Records of the Program of African Studies (University Archives Series 35/13) mention lectures that are not included in these recordings. It does appear, however, that the recordings in this series constitute the majority of the lectures sponsored from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. The recordings reflect not only the Monday Night Lecture Series; the include other Africa-related lectures, conferences and and events. (Numbered as part of this series is a group of radio broadcast feeds from The Voice of America’s "African Panorama" series. These recordings pertain to the Matebele tribe of what was then Rhodesia (audiotapes 271-276).) Some other audiotapes record Program staff meetings or conferences.

The speakers recorded in this series came from many backgrounds and areas of academic study. They include members of Northwestern University faculty and staff as well as faculty from other universities and colleges around the world. Frequent speakers include Carter and Abu-Lughod themselves, Frank Willett, Remi Clignet, George Shepperson, Klaus Wachsmann, Richard Wilson, and Ronald Cohen, among others. Many of the speakers at Africa House during this lecture series were notable figures in politics, academia, or literature. Prominent among the speakers are: Chinua Achebe (novelist), Oliver Tambo (South African leader and politician), Dean ffrench-Beytagh (anti-apartheid religious leader), Ali Mazrui (public intellectual), C.L.R. James (radical historian), Thurston Shaw (English archaeologist), Aidan Southall (English anthropologist), Ernest Gellner (philosopher and anthropologist), A. Ado Boahem (Nigerian historian), Nadine Gordimer (South African writer), Malcolm Guthrie (linguist), Eqbal Ahmad (Indian academic and radical activist), Ezekiel Mphalele (South African writer), Akin Mabogunje (Nigerian historian), Janheinz Jahn (authority on African religion), Dennis Brutus (Northwestern professor and South African poet and activist), and Shula Marks (South African historian).

An inventory of these audiotapes was prepared (in 2009?) as an Excel spreadsheet. Although it appears that the machine-readable version of that spreadsheet has not survived, there remain two printouts of it. (These are both held in box 14.) The information in this finding aid is a combination of information from this spreadsheet, information taken from the records of the Program of African Studies, and information written on the tape boxes themselves. When details from these three sources do not agree; this finding aid shows the differences.

The audio tapes vary in both sound quality and physical condition. Some are perfectly audible, others are difficult to hear at all. General notations on quality and condition (taken from the inventory spreadsheet) are included in this finding aid. (These comments were added to the spreadsheet when it was created (2009?); they do not reflect any changes to the tapes since that time.) A few of the audiotapes included this series appear to be blank; whether they were erased or just too damaged or physically degraded is unknown.

Dates

  • 1965-1978

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is held off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at specialcollections@northwestern.edu or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.

Extent

14.00 Boxes

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Northwestern University Archives’ collection of audiotapes from the Program of African Studies lectures dates from the period 1965-1979. Soon after its own establishment, the Program initiated a "Monday Night Lecture Series." This series sponsored speakers to visit Northwestern’s Africa House (or another lecture hall if an unusually large crowd was anticipated) and speak on some topic relating to Africa. The variety of speakers is extremely wide, ranging from academics to political figures to authors and artists. The collection contains the majority of the Monday night lectures given during this period; it includes a number of recordings of other Africa-related lectures and events, mostly sponsored by the Program of African Studies.

Arrangement

This finding aid is arranged by name of speaker (or, when lacking, name of conference or other session, or title). The tapes themselves are in boxes in order by the sequential numbers assigned to them.

Method of Acquisition

Transferred to the Northwestern University Archives by the Northwestern University Library Herskovits Library of Africana on November 9, 1983 (Accession 83-156). An addition (accession 06-108; August 15, 2006; tapes 356-460) was merged into the original set of tapes.

Related Materials

Information on the Monday Night Lecture Series (though very little on the tape recordings) can be found in the University Archives’ records of the Program of African Studies (Series 35/13, Boxes 46-49 and 51). Most of the records pertaining to these lectures include correspondence between Program faculty (usually Carter, Abu-Lughod, Demoz, Leary, Richard Lobban, or Michael Culane, though sometimes other administrators or professors) and the speakers themselves, potential speakers, or their representatives. Occasionally there are also letters from other Northwestern faculty or faculty from other universities interested in the upcoming events. The most useful items found here, however, are a few transcripts of the recordings. These exist for several of the lectures and, though they are not perfect transcriptions, they serve as very good aids to the taped lectures, especially to those that were not well recorded or are in poor physical condition. The speakers for whom transcripts exist are: Dr. Desmond Cole: “The Problem of Language Differences in Africa” (Box 47, Folder 3); Chinua Achebe: “Commitment of the African Writer”; E. Mphalele: “Tradition in Africa”; Gwendolen Carter: “The Future of African Studies”; Dean ffrench-Beytagh: “Experiences in South African Prison;” two interviews with C.L.R. James, one conducted by Northwestern professor Sterling Stuckey, the other with an unnamed interviewer (Box 48, Folder 1); “Imperialism in South Africa” by a speaker unnameded in the transcript (Box 48, Folder 3); George Shepperson: “Joseph Booth and the African Diaspora”; Monica Shuler: “Ethnic Slave Revolts in the Caribbean and South America”; a summary of the remarks of C. Payne Lucas on the subject of “Black America and the Peace Corps” (Box 46). Other papers, press releases, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and speaker biographies can also be found among the written material relating to the lecture series.

A list of approximately half of the tapes in the series (from the University's Language Laboratory, which seems to have custody of the tapes for a time) appears in Box 48, Folder 1.

Other Descriptive Information

Tapes 5, 67, 87, 94, 99, 101, 115, 137, 143, 269, 294, 324-326, 334, 345, and 354 appear to be unusable. Either no sound is recorded or the sound quality is so poor as to render them inaudible. A note included with tape 101 states that the sound is poor and unintelligible. The assessment is correct. Tapes 20, 259, 260 and 277 are missing from the collection.

Information recorded on the printout of the inventory spreadsheet (in box 14) includes, when available, the name of the speaker, the date of the lecture, the topic of the lecture, notes on the sound quality and physical condition of the recording, the recording speed used, and other information of potential use or relevance to listeners. In some cases categories of information may be missing. In other cases only estimates of the date of the lecture could be provided. Likewise, occasionally only a last or partial name for a speaker was available; that information has also been provided. When a formal title or topic or a lecture was not available, the spreadsheet contains a brief topical heading based on an auditory review of the recording.
Title
Guide to the Program of African Studies Lecture Series Audiotapes
Author
Nick Perry
Date
2006-08-10
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Contact:
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US
847-491-3635