Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Africa Collection Guide

The Institute's recent acquisitions in this area have significantly added to its African collections. In 2011, the Africa (sub-Sahara) Regional Desk set up its operating base in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to safeguard materials from opposition and other social movements. The Africa Desk intends to collect materials covering the entire area of "tropical Africa" (i.e. all of Africa except for the Arab North and South Africa). Sudan is covered together with the Middle East/Central Asia Desk of the IISH.

Until recently, the most important holdings on African history in our archival department were the archives of international trade union secretariats and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. The second area of relevant information comes from large national, predominantly Dutch, political and trade union organizations involved in development and support of aid to Africa. The third source comes from organizations in Europe opposing racism and apartheid.

An online guide of collections on African labor and social history (see below) has been published in 2006. It lists both recent and older material in our Archival Department and in the Department of Image and Sound Documents on African social history. Because much of this material is to be found in the archives of European organizations sympathetic to the African cause, data on the activities of those organizations in Europe were also listed. This information provides a context for African studies.The area's best covered in this guide are Southern Africa and Nigeria. This is a consequence of the importance of the anti-apartheid struggle and the presence of mining and oil industry and hence, labor organizations in the area.

In 2008 the IISH acquired an extensive collection of archival materials relating to anti-apartheid and Southern Africa. This rich collection includes materials on the Dutch anti-apartheid and solidarity movement, the struggle in Southern Africa and the international campaign against apartheid. These archives and a large number of books, journals, photographs, posters and hundreds of videos, cassettes, badges, flags, T-shirts and other memorabilia cover the period 1960 to 2000.

The collections may be accessed in various ways. The archives index contains individual archival descriptions and a list of all archives by country. Archives, books, periodicals, and image and audio materials are retrievable via the IISH catalogue.

Contact: Stefano Bellucci, Head of the Africa Regional Desk, at