Bodleian Library logo

Department of Special Collections
Contact Information
Search All Online Catalogues

Consulting material: To consult archives and manuscripts, a full and unrestricted Bodleian reader's card (Group A) is required. You should apply for your card at the Admissions Office.

Pre-ordering: Before your visit you may order up to ten items by emailing Please be advised that some collection material is held offsite; we advise pre-ordering at least two working days before your visit to ensure material is available on your arrival.

Collection Level Description: Papers of Dame Margery Freda Perham

Reference: MSS. Perham
Title: Papers of Dame Margery Freda Perham
Dates of Creation: [1844]-1980
Extent: 771 boxes

Language of Material: English

Administrative/Biographical History

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.

Scope and Content

Administrative Information

Access Conditions

Bodleian reader's ticket required:

Reproduction Restrictions

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Further Information

Finding Aids

Listed as no. 608 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996). A catalogue of the Papers of Dame Margery Perham 1895-1982 in Rhodes House Library Oxford, by Patricia Pugh (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1989) is also available.

Related Units of Description

Transcript of tape-recording made with Sir James Wilson Robertson on his service in the Sudan (from 1922 to 1953), 20th century (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 802); correspondence with George C. Turner concerning the affairs of East Africa, in particular Uganda, [1944-1945] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 643); typescript of letter, 1968, from David Boyle concerning the Queen Mother of Djesu and the 1900 Ashanti rising in Ghana, 20th century (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1204(1)); recorded conversation with J.J. Tawney mainly concerning Tanganyika, with transcript, 1972 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1466); papers given at a conference in honour of Margery Perham at Rhodes House, 3rd-4th July 1989 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2143).

Publication Note

Women's voices on Africa, a century of travel writings, ed. Patricia Romero (Princeton, U.S.A., M. Wiener Pub., c1992); Written by herself, Vol. II, ed. Jill Ker Conway (London, Vintage, 1998); Always elsewhere. travels of the Black Atlantic, ed. Alasdair Pettinger (London, Cassell, 1998).

Access Points

Perham | Margery Freda | 1895-1982 | Dame | historian

Lugard | Frederick John Dealtry | 1858-1945 | Baron Lugard of Abinger | soldier, administrator, author

Africa | History

Asia | History | 20th century

West Indies | History | 20th century

Australasia | History | 20th century

Islands of the Pacific | History | 20th century

Near East | History | 20th century

Middle East | History | 20th century

Mandates | History | 20th century

Great Britain | Colonies | Administration

Africa Bureau

Fabian Colonial Bureau

League of Nations

United Nations

The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society

Africa | Description and travel | Views

Australasia | Description and travel | Views

Islands of the Pacific | Description and travel | Views

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
27 June 2011