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The White Father Archives at Mwanza, Tanzania

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 May 2014

Kathleen R. Smythe*
Affiliation:
Xavier University/Cincinnati

Extract

The White Fathers' (Missionary Society of Africa) Regional House outside Mwanza, Tanzania is the home of a small, but important archival collection for scholars researching those areas in Western Tanzania where the White Fathers lived and worked. The collection is relatively unknown, but for my research (social history with a focus on children) it was a gold mine of information. It also turned out to be the most pleasant archives to work in of all of the ones I consulted during my fieldwork experience.

The archives in Mwanza contain some of the same information that can be found in Rome at the White Fathers' headquarters, but provide a cheaper and closer alternative for those already in Tanzania. In the Regional House library are the Rapports Annuels of the mission society from the 1880s to the late 1950s and a full set of Chronique Trimestrielle (which later became Petit Echo). The Reports Annuels contain compilations of statistics (including the number of missionaries, sisters, catechists, neophytes, catechumens, baptisms of various categories, marriages, confessions, confirmations, boys and girls attending school for each mission station), as well as general reports about the nature and progress of the missionaries' work. Having already read the particular mission diaries in Rome, these reports were particularly helpful as they conveniently summarized trends and problems that priests saw in their work. As its name implies, the Chronique Trimestrielle was published four times a year and contained a variety of information about the missions and their work, but a primary focus was education. In addition, the library contains works on the mission society, its founder, Charles Lavigerie, and some important works on the Sukuma people and language.

Type
Research Article
Information
History in Africa , Volume 24 , January 1997 , pp. 431 - 432
Copyright
Copyright © African Studies Association 1997

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