||The records of the Transcription Centre comprise scripts and manuscripts,
correspondence, legal documents, business records, ephemera, photographs, and
clippings. The collection, which spans the years 1931 to 1986, is arranged partly
original order and partly in a devised order. The material is organized in four
series: I. Initiatives, Events, and Sponsorships, 1961-75; II. Correspondence,
1961-86; III. Administrative Records, 1960-77; and IV. Other Papers, 1931-74.
Languages present include English, Hausa, Swahili, German, French, and Italian.
||Series I., Initiatives, Events, and Sponsorships, constitutes the largest group of
records and probably contains the most complete representation of the Transcription
Centre’s many activities. The series includes files on conferences, festivals,
music, publications, radio programs, scholarship and research, television projects,
and theater and film projects.
||Africa Abroad, the prime broadcast vehicle for the
center in its early years, is represented by a fairly complete collection of
scripts, along with scripts of other radio series produced by the center, such
Oral Traditions in Hausa and Swahili, Men and Space, and People on the
Move (the latter two in English and Swahili versions). There is also
much additional documentation of broadcasting efforts in the form of program logs,
tape catalogs, and correspondence regarding the ultimately successful effort to
place the audio tapes at the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago.
||Particularly noteworthy is a large file of scripts and script fragments arranged
topically as a broadcast and publishing resource, including material not represented
elsewhere in the papers. An index to the names, titles, and subjects represented
this file is included in this finding aid.
||For Cultural Events in Africa, the center’s periodical
newsletter, slightly more than half of the issues published (primarily from the
later period) are present. A gathering of news items, press releases, and minor
published materials from which short and long pieces in Cultural Events were often based is also present. Much of this original
source material is fugitive in nature and likely difficult to locate elsewhere.
||Other projects supported by the Transcription Centre include the ethnological work
Gerhard Kubik, the Ijinle Theatre Company, and a film version of Wole Soyinka’s
The Swamp Dwellers. The series also demonstrates
various efforts to assist African musicians and encourage interest in African
musical performance. Materials relating to conferences and festivals of African
and culture in the 1960s and early 1970s are located in the series, of which those
concerned with the 1965 Commonwealth Arts Festival in Cardiff, Wales are the most
||Comprising about a quarter of the papers, Series II. Correspondence, contains
significant evidence of the Transcription Center’s efforts on behalf of African
writing, and scholarship through broadcasting, conferences, and cultural festivals.
Though the correspondence spans 1961 to 1986, the period before 1970 is strongest.
||Dennis Duerden’s tireless efforts to draw attention to Africa’s mind and soul at the
beginning of the post-colonial era are documented in the center’s correspondence
with artists (Jimo Akolo, Julian Bienart) and writers (Chinua Achebe, Ezekiel
Mphahlele, Rajat Neogy, David Rubadiri), as well as academics and other scholars
(Ulli Beier, Sillaty K. Dabo, Gerhard Kubik, Margaret Laurence, Ivan van Sertima).
The extensive body of correspondence with Wole Soyinka is especially noteworthy.
||Substantial additional correspondence with publishers, contributors, and client radio
stations and networks is also found in the series. A complete index of
correspondents is available in this finding aid.
||Series III. Administrative Records, also represents about a quarter of the
Transcription Centre records. The materials here include documents concerned with
rent, insurance, utilities, legal matters, and the like, along with a substantial
group of subscription records for Cultural Events in
||Fully half of the series, however, demonstrates via regular correspondence the roles
of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Farfield Foundation in the creation
continued funding of the Transcription Centre and Dennis Duerden’s plans for the
broadcasting service. This correspondence appears to have survived substantially
||Series IV. Other Papers, embraces in its box-and-a-half extent a group of
Transcription Centre reports on social policy in and about Africa, materials on
African art and culture, and a collection of papers concerned with non-African
projects in which Duerden involved himself at various times. This latter group
varied in its emphases as a projected study of the English pub, the art and
literature of India, British stage classics generally and Shakespeare specifically.
Related promotional records in Series III. contain descriptive material and some
correspondence concerned with Dennis Duerden’s work in physiological and medical
cinematography in the early 1970s.
||Other collections at the Ransom Center holding material related to the Transcription
Centre include the records of Research in African
Literatures and the papers of Peter Glenville.
||The Archival Sound Recordings service of the British Library holds sound recordings
produced by the Transcription Centre and makes them available online to those
proper licensing. The Center for Research Libraries in the U.S. holds the collection
of audio materials acquired from the Transcription Centre in the 1970s.