Africa and the New Imperialism documents the period of rapid colonial expansion by European powers across the African continent during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  

From the accounts of missionaries and European explorers navigating the interior of the continent in the early nineteenth century; to the rise in European desire for increased power, empire and wealth culminating in the Berlin Conference 1885-1886; to the subsequent power struggles, negotiations and conflicts that raged across the continent at the turn of the twentieth century, the documents within Africa and the New Imperialism charts Africa’s encounters with European imperialist regimes and their impact on the lives of peoples across the continent.

Lugard's Photographs: A Masked Dance Takes Place in Offa, Nigeria © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

  • Imperialism 
  • Slavery and forced labour 
  • Diplomacy 
  • Religion and missionaries 
  • Race and ethnicity 
  • War and violence 
  • Resistance to colonialism 
  • Technology and infrastructure 


Material has been sourced from world-renowned library and archives: 

  • Archives nationales d’outre-mer 
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France 
  • Bodleian Library, University of Oxford 
  • British Film Institute 
  • British Library 
  • National Library of Scotland 
  • Sanford Museum, Florida 
  • School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 
  • Senate House Library, University of London 
  • The National Archives, UK
  • University of Birmingham Library 


For detailed information on the collections available, visit the Guide to the Archival Collections. 

For more information about how this material was selected, visit the Selection Criteria.

Each document within Africa and the New Imperialism has been tagged with a region. These regions have been designated in consultation with our editorial board, they are broad and are intended to provide support in browsing and navigating the documents presented within this resource. However, due to the nature of the material, many documents cover several regions and where this is the case, the most relevant regions have been added; there may be more regions covered by events within documents.  

For more context on each region and events taking place within each region, visit the Guide to Regions and Places.

A variety of research tools provide further contextual information or guidance for teaching and research. From Essays and Biographies to Guide to Regions and Places and Guide to the Archival Collections, explore the options under Research Tools or view the full list in Teaching Tools.