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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.
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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).
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
Fabian Colonial Bureau
League of 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