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British East Africa in Maps – a new online resource from the British Library
27 May 2016, 11:00 EAT - 13:00 EAT
By Nick Dykes
The British Library has published online over 550 military intelligence maps of the former British East Africa – modern-day Kenya, Uganda and adjacent parts of Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.
The sheets are held in the War Office Archive at the British Library, and were created between 1890 and 1940. Ranging from small sketch maps made by intelligence officers in situ, through surveyors’ field sheets to cartographers’ fair drawings, most of the items are unique manuscripts showing the region immediately before and during the colonial era.
The archive is a rich resource not only for researchers of African and colonial history, but also for environmentalists and climate scientists – many of the sheets record the earliest systematic surveys of East Africa, and hold a wealth of information relating to historical populations, settlements and tribal regions beside details of historical land use, limits of vegetation, hydrology and much else.
Nicholas Dykes, British Library cataloguer and project coordinator, will provide an introduction to the archive and give a demonstration of this new resource available online.
The British Library has catalogued, conserved and digitised the archive with generous funding from the Indigo Trust.