Documenting resistance and confronting legacies. Working with British missionary archive collections from the Caribbean region.

By Special Collections|29th November 2023|Collections & Research|0 comments

Content advice: Please note that this blog discusses sensitive subject matter relating to enslavement and the transatlantic slave trade, which may be triggering or difficult to read. In today’s blog, we consider the question of how, as archivists, researchers, and communities, we might critically engage with colonial histories in the archives to understand and acknowledge the legacies of enslavement and the transatlantic slave trade. By looking at some recent initiatives

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Part 2/ Locating Voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in 19th Century Missionary Periodicals

By Special Collections|16th May 2023|Behind the scenes, Collections & Research|0 comments

Today’s blog comes from Dr Joanne Davis, Research Associate with the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS. Following on from her last blog, Jo reflects on the completion of a successful collaborative research project, BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press, which has recently launched on This work introduces and documents a series of unknown or little-studied pieces from Victorian missionary periodicals by BIPOC creators. Here she presents a quick overview of the

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New archive access project marks the 50th Anniversary of SOAS Library

By Special Collections|30th April 2023|Behind the scenes, Collections & Research|0 comments

Autumn 2023 marks 50 years since the completion, and official opening, of the new SOAS Library on the Bloomsbury site. The building, designed by Denys Lasdun  and Grade II Listed since 2011 – as well as being the home of the SOAS National Research Library and a space beloved of SOAS alum and staff of several decades – is a notable later example of the Brutalist design that Lasdun made his

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International Women’s Day 2023

By Special Collections|7th March 2023|Collections & Research|0 comments

Fascinating and feisty women from SOAS Special Collections to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2023. Even after the signing of the 1895 peace treaty marking the end of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, Taiwanese resistance forces, led by General Liu Yongfu (1837-1917) of the Black Flag Army, continued to attack the occupying Japanese troops. Madam Zhang (in the middle, on a blue horse), wife of Commander-in-chief Sun,

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Collection Care & Digitisation at SOAS Library 

By Special Collections|21st February 2023|Behind the scenes|0 comments

As SOAS Library formally opens its new Collection Care & Digitisation facilities, we look behind-the-scenes at the work that will now be supported thanks to generous funding from donors including the Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation.   Collection Care & Digitisation (CCD), part of our Library Services Directorate, is home to our small digitisation team and a recently appointed Conservator (a first for SOAS) who is

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Plants in the archives: exploring botanical sources at SOAS Special Collections

By Special Collections|4th November 2022|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week we look at a selection of sources in SOAS Special Collections, which depict and discuss the botanical world, ranging from photographs and paintings of plants and flowers, handwritten lists of plants by specimen collectors, printed natural histories and local botanical studies, to depictions of plants and flowers in the miniatures and illustrations of the manuscript collections. Personal papers & archives Amongst the archives at SOAS are the papers

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Black History Month 2022: Heinemann African Writers Series

By Special Collections|21st October 2022|Collections & Research|0 comments

In 2022, we celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Black History Month movement in the UK. As part of the many activities and events that SOAS has brought to its students, staff and general audience during October 2022, SOAS Library is hosting a display of important, original materials from the Heinemann African Writers Series, which is held by our Special Collections department. The display has been curated by SOAS

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The Life and Work of Rev. William E. Taylor (1856-1927)

By Special Collections|5th October 2022|Collections & Research|0 comments

In this blog, we discuss the life and work of the late Reverend William E. Taylor of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), who collected together many Swahili manuscripts while he was stationed in Mombasa, on the Kenyan Coast, during the late 19th century/early 20th century. Rev. William E. Taylor was considered one of the greatest Swahili scholars, according to the late Sheikh Yahya Ali Omar and Peter Frankl who wrote about Taylor’s

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The Legacies of Jean Boyd (1934-2022) and Nana Asma’u Fodio (1793-1864)

By Special Collections|9th May 2022|Collections & Research|1 comments

In this blog we celebrate the life and work of the late scholar Jean Boyd (1934-2022) and the poet Nana Asma’u Fodio (1793-1864). Jean Boyd who was a Research Associate at the Centre of African Studies, SOAS, University of London, 1990, as well as having served as an Education Officer in the Colonial Service in Nigeria (1955-1960) and following Independence worked for the Nigerian Public Service (1960-1984). Jean Boyd spent 25 years

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Part 3/ Cook Islander missionaries: recovering hidden histories from missionary archives: Isaia Papehia’s travels in Britain

By Special Collections|28th March 2022|Collections & Research|0 comments

Continuing our short series of blogs looking at the instrumental and largely forgotten role of indigenous Cook Islanders in the evangelisation of the Pacific region from the early 19th century, and research which is rediscovering evidence of the personal histories of these men and women found in European missionary archives. This week’s guest blog comes from Rod Dixon (Mangaia, Cook Islands), who shares his research into the overseas experiences of Isaia Papehia

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