Dame Margery Freda Perham (1895-1982), writer and lecturer on African affairs, was born in Bury, Lancashire, brought up in Harrogate, Yorkshire and achieved an open scholarship to St. Hugh's College, Oxford in 1914. In 1917 she was appointed Assistant Lecturer at Sheffield University. A lifelong preoccupation with Africa began in 1922 when she visited her sister in Somaliland. She returned to St. Hugh's in 1924 as official fellow and tutor in modern history and in the school of philosophy, politics and economics. In 1929 she accepted a year's travel grant by the Rhodes trustees to return to Africa, where she spent more than five years, travelling extensively. At the same time, she became actively involved in lobbying on the subject of colonial affairs, defending the High Commission territories and championing 'indirect rule'. In 1939 she became the first official, and female, fellow of Nuffield College in Oxford, and was also elected Reader in Colonial Administration, a post she held until 1948. Her teaching at this time was almost entirely devoted to the first and second Devonshire courses for colonial servants, though later she played a part in the development of universities for the new African leaders and experts, and helped in the initiation of the Oxford Colonial Records Project.
In Oxford she became the nucleus and memoranda-writer for a group which secured government funds and asserted the university's role in colonial studies. Her books, reports and papers provided the basis for the Oxford Institute of Colonial Studies, to which she was appointed Director, 1945-1948. Her published works include Native Administration in Nigeria (London, Oxford University Press, 1937) and Lugard...The life of Frederick Dealtry Lugard, etc.. (London, Collins, 1956), West African passage. a journey through Nigeria, Chad, and the Cameroons, 1931-1932 , ed. A.H.M. Kirk-Greene (London, Peter Owen, 1983), and Pacific prelude. a journey to Samoa and Australasia, 1929 , ed. A.H.M. Kirk-Greene (London, Owen, 1988). She also helped plan the project which emerged as An African Survey. A study of problems arising in Africa south of the Sahara by Lord Hailey, etc. (London, Oxford University Press, 1938). She was also a prolific broadcaster and correspondent on colonial matters. An honorary fellow of universities throughout Great Britain, and of Makerere in Kampala, Uganda, she was the first president of the African Studies Association and was appointed CBE, DCMG and FBA.
Papers given at a conference held in honour of Dame Margery Perham at Rhodes House, 3rd-4th July 1989, following the completion of the catalogue of the Perham Papers by Patricia Pugh.
The papers are arranged in the order that they were given rather than according to the provisional timetable in file 1. There are summaries of the papers in file 4 and eight audio-cassette tapes recording the proceedings in box 2.
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No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.
Listed as no. 824 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).Related Units of Description
Papers of Dame Margery Perham, 1881-1982 (ref. MSS. Perham); transcript of a tape-recording made by Sir James Wilson Robertson with Dame Perham on service in the Sudan, 1922-1953 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 802); correspondence of Dame Margery Perham with George C. Turner regarding affairs of East Africa, [1944-1945] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 643); letter from David Boyle to Dame Margery Perham, 1968, concerning the Queen Mother of Djesu and the Ashanti rising of 1900 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1204 (1)); recorded conversation between Dame Margery Perham and J.J. Tawney primarily concerning Tanganyika, 1972, with transcript (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1466).
Perham | Margery Freda | 1895-1982 | Dame | historian
Africa | History