Catalogue of the correspondence and papers, 1928-95, of Arthur Casswell Spooner (1906-96)

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Marion Lowman, Lucy McCann, Solveig Mueller


Department of Special Collections
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Table of Contents

A    Correspondence, 1928-95
B    Memoirs, 1929-42
C    Diaries, 1929-37
D    Miscellaneous papers, 1927-61
E    Photographs, 1932-52

Correspondence and papers of Arthur Casswell Spooner, 1928-95

Correspondence, papers, diaries and photographs of Arthur Casswell Spooner (1906-96), Colonial Service Administrative Cadet, later Commissioner of Labour Department, in the Gold Coast (1928-52).

Shelfmarks: Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2438

Extent: 5 boxes

Biographical History

Arthur Casswell Spooner was born in Blandford in 1906 and educated at Epsom College from 1920 to 1924. After attending the Cambridge Colonial Service course at Clare College in 1928-9, he was posted to the Gold Coast in July 1929 as a Cadet in the Administrative Service. He was soon appointed Assistant District Commissioner and served in various areas of Ashanti and the Northern Territories until 1938. His tasks comprised office and court work as well as much travelling through the district.

In 1939 Spooner was seconded as Commissioner of the Labour Department in Kumasi and in 1942 was appointed Assistant Director of Labour, General Headquarters West African Command, involved in raising Pioneer Groups in Sierra Leone and Nigeria primarily for the North African campaign. He was a member of the Gold Coast Defence Force and in 1942 appointed as a temporary Lieutenant Colonel. In 1945 he returned to the Administrative Service and five years later was appointed Assistant Chief Commissioner of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast. Arthur Spooner retired in 1952.

After his service for the Colonial Office Spooner worked for Eastbury Estates Ltd. in the United Kingdom. He returned to Africa in 1956, working for the Gambian Government in the Establishments and Training Department until 1959. From 1961 to 1963 he was employed by the Government of Northern Nigeria to run the President's offices in Makurdi and Ilorin.

Arthur Spooner married Sylvia Blest in Accra in 1944. He died in January 1996.

Scope and Content

The collection mainly consists of letters home to his mother, Mrs. Casswell Spooner, his two brothers, Edward Tenney Casswell Spooner (called "Ten") and William Henry Casswell Spooner ("Pullet") and his sister, Dorothea Mary Casswell Spooner ("D"). There are also some typed and handwritten notes and memoirs of his stay and travels in the Gold Coast, diaries and miscellaneous papers relating to the Colonial Service. Additionally the collection includes photographs taken by Spooner illustrating his work and travels in the Gold Coast.


The material is arranged in chronological order.

Restrictions on Access

An Oxford University Card / OULS Reader's card which gives access to manuscripts is required.

Restrictions on Use

No reproduction or publication without permission. Contact the Library in the first instance.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS.Afr.s.2438, Box 1, File 1, fols. 1-2].

Personal names (NCA Rules)

Spooner | Arthur Casswell | 1906-1996 | colonial administrator

Corporate names (NCA Rules)

Great Britain | Colonial Administrative Service

Place names (NCA Rules)


Subjects (LCSH)

Colonial administrators | Ghana

A   Correspondence, 1928-95

Shelfmarks: MSS Afr. s. 2438/1-3

Letters concerning Application and Appointment to the Colonial Service, 1928-9
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/1/1
Extent: 45 folios

Scope and Content:

Includes instructions for Administrative Service in West African colonies, Spooner's certificate from the Immigration Officer and his letter of appointment from the Colonial Secretary’s Office, Accra.

Letters home, 1929-32
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/1/2
Extent: 228 folios

Scope and Content:

Includes letters describing everyday life, natives, treks, establishment of co-operative societies and the repatriation of Nana Prempeh I, King of the Ashanti.

Letters home, 1932-3
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/2/1
Extent: 59 folios

Scope and Content:

Includes letters describing the funeral of Nana Prempeh I and the Mampong riots in July 1932.

Letters home, 1934-6
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/2/2
Extent: 101 folios

Scope and Content:

Includes letters describing court work and the establishment of local authorities.

Letters home, 1937-40
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/3/1
Extent: 122 folios

Scope and Content:

Includes letters describing the visit of Bishop John Aglionby, Nana Prempeh II's acceptance of a knighthood, the earthquake in Accra in July 1939 and the impacts of World War II.

Letters home, 1941-8
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/3/2
Extent: 137 folios

Scope and Content:

Includes letters describing Spooner's work as a Lieutenant Colonel in Accra and the closing of goldmines.

Miscellaneous letters, [1929-48], 1967, 1995
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/3/3
Extent: 11 folios

Scope and Content:

Comprises a letter to Spooner from his brother, Tenney, 1967, a letter from E. Obeng whose father was head of the Government School in Kumasi, 1995, and some unidentified pages from letters [1929-48].

B   Memoirs, 1929-42

Shelfmarks: MSS Afr. s. 2438/3/4

Memoirs, 1929-42
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/3/4
Extent: 51 folios

Scope and Content:


  • Script "Local leave in the French Sudan 1936: A journey from Krachi to Timbuktu" by Arthur C. Spooner with enlarged copies of photographs
  • Handwritten notes and memoirs of Spooner's time in Africa, dated list of treks in the Gold Coast and journeys between Africa and the United Kingdom

C   Diaries, 1929-37

Shelfmarks: MSS Afr. s. 2438/4/1

Diary, 1929-30, 1937
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/4/1
Extent: 2 items

Scope and Content:

Two diaries, the earlier of which describes Spooner's voyage to the Gold Coast and includes some photographs.

D   Miscellaneous papers, 1927-61

Shelfmarks: MSS Afr. s. 2438/4/2-3

Working papers, 1927-45
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/4/2
Extent: 58 folios and 3 items

Scope and Content:


  • Colonial Office circular despatches
  • Text "Labour Department expansion" 1945 by Commissioner of Labour's Office with command structures and salary overview
  • Book "A digest of the minutes of the Ashanti Confederacy Council from 1935 to 1949 inclusive and a revised edition of Warrington's notes on Ashanti custom prepared for the use of District Commissioners" by J.N. Matson, 1950

Personal documents, 1952-61
Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/4/3
Extent: 11 folios and 1 item

Scope and Content:

Includes testimonials, Curriculum Vitaes and a notebook containing descriptions and sketches of animals.

E   Photographs, 1932-52

Shelfmarks: MSS Afr. s. 2438/5/1-12

Shelfmark: MSS Afr. s. 2438/5/1-12
Extent: 12 items

Scope and Content:

Includes photographs probably taken by A.C. Spooner showing Prempeh II and the Golden Stool of Ashanti; also photographs of District Commissioner's staff, Juaso, 1932, and Labour Department staff, Accra, 1945.

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
29 June 2011