The Northwestern University Archives’ collection of audiotapes from Program of African Studies lectures dates from the period 1965-1974. 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. Program records (University Archives’ Series 35/13) also mention other lectures that do not seem to be part of the recorded series. It does appear, however, that the recordings of this series feature the majority of the lectures sponsored from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s.
The recordings do not encompass only the events of the Monday Night Lecture Series. Other Africa related lectures and events are included as well. 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. However, the majority of the recordings document events scheduled as part of the Monday Night Lecture Series.
The principal speakers recorded in this series come from many backgrounds and areas of academic study. They include members of Northwestern faculty and staff as well as faculty from other major 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 prominent figures in politics, academics, or literature. Prominent among the speakers were: 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). Speakers from out of town (or out of the country) usually stayed at Evanston’s Orrington Hotel with their travel and hospitality expenses paid by the Program of African Studies. Guest speakers typically received a $100-150 honorarium.
The audio tapes vary in both sound quality and physical condition. Some are perfectly audible, others difficult to hear at all. General notations on quality and condition are found on the appended spreadsheet. Recording identifying numbers, speaker names, presentation dates and topical references also are included. 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.
Addition, Boxes 10-13
The addition includes 105 sequentially numbered open-reel audiotapes relating to Africa, African politics and government, and African culture, dating from the period 1967-1978 and supplementing the recordings found in the main body of the series. The majority of the tapes record lectures and conferences presented through the Program of African Studies. Lecturers featured on the recordings include academics, government officials, artists, and authors.
An additional Tape List gives basic information for each tape: Tape #, Date, Speaker, Topic, Sound Quality, and Notes.
More detailed information relating to these tapes has been added to a University Archives Microsoft Excel database. A printout of the database along with instructions on using it and directions for locating specific audiotapes is located in the Inventory folder for this series located in the University Archives Reading Room.