Africana: Getting Started

LibGuide for the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University

Program of African Studies

Northwestern University
620 Library Place
Evanston, Illinois 60208-4110, U.S.A.
847-491-3739 (fax)

Key Resources

Looking for resources about Africa?  Start here:

Use NUcat to find books and other materials owned by the Africana Library.

The Herskovits Library also has three online indexes which provide access to special resources.

The Africana Conference Paper Index is an index to the individual papers -- in western European languages -- of the conference proceedings held by the Herskovits Library. The file is updated daily.  By doing a "Multi-Search," you can search the Conference Paper Index and NUcat simultaneously.

The Africana Vertical File Index covers an extensive collection of uncataloged government documents, official publications, pamphlets, periodicals and journals held by the Herskovits Library. The file is updated daily. By doing a "Multi-Search," you can search the Vertical File Index and NUcat simultaneously.

The Herskovits Library houses an important collection of Arabic script materials from West Africa. It contains over 5,000 items collected from Africa and donated to the library by several Northwestern professors. Original, hand-written manuscripts make up more than 60 percent of the content, which also includes “market” editions (photocopies of handwritten works that are often sold in African marketplaces), printed editions, and photocopies. Most are in Arabic, though some are in ajami—African languages such as Hausa, Fulfulde, and Wolof written in the Arabic script. It is especially strong in works from northern Nigeria (Kano in particular) but also includes items from Ghana, Senegal, and Mali. The works cover a wide range of subjects, including poetry, Arabic grammar, history, theology, Sufism, law, astronomy, and numerology. Highlights include the collection’s rich body of work on the Tijâniyya Sufi order, fine examples of Hausa poetry, and writings on medicine and healing.

Can't find what you're looking for here at Northwestern University Library?

Other Resources in the Africana Library

The Africana Collection includes much more than books!  The Herskovits Library also has in its collection photographs, maps, posters, videos, books in African languages, archival materials and manuscripts, as well as art objects, ephemeral materials, and other artifacts.  In addition to the resources listed in the "Digital Resources" section, we also have

Please note that special materials languages books, vertical file, rare books, posters, archival and manuscript materials and photographs are available for consultation Monday-Friday, 8:30am – 4:45pm only. Advance appointments, especially for those using these resources for the first time, are strongly encouraged.

Subject Guide

Esmeralda Kale
(847) 491-7684
Northwestern University Library
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, Il 60208
Website / Blog Page
Subjects:African Studies
Northwestern University

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