||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 in original order and partly
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,
French, and Italian.
||Series I., Initiatives, Events, and Sponsorships, constitutes the largest group of
and probably contains the most complete representation of the Transcription Centre’s
activities. The series includes files on conferences, festivals, music, publications,
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
of other radio series produced by the center, such as 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
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
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
papers. An index to the names, titles, and subjects represented in this file is included
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)
present. A gathering of news items, press releases, and minor published materials
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 art and culture in the 1960s and
1970s are located in the series, of which those concerned with the 1965 Commonwealth
Festival in Cardiff, Wales are the most extensive.
||Comprising about a quarter of the papers, Series II. Correspondence, contains significant
evidence of the Transcription Center’s efforts on behalf of African art, writing,
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,
Neogy, David Rubadiri), as well as academics and other scholars (Ulli Beier, Sillaty
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
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 Africa.
||Fully half of the series, however, demonstrates via regular correspondence the roles
Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Farfield Foundation in the creation and continued
funding of the Transcription Centre and Dennis Duerden’s plans for the broadcasting
This correspondence appears to have survived substantially complete.
||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
and a collection of papers concerned with non-African film projects in which Duerden
involved himself at various times. This latter group is as varied in its emphases
projected study of the English pub, the art and literature of India, British stage
generally and Shakespeare specifically. Related promotional records in Series III.
descriptive material and some correspondence concerned with Dennis Duerden’s work
physiological and medical cinematography in the early 1970s.
||Other collections at the Ransom Center holding material related to the Transcription
include the records of Research in African Literatures and the papers of
||The Archival Sound Recordings service of the British Library holds sound recordings
produced by the Transcription Centre and makes them available online to those with
licensing. The Center for Research Libraries in the U.S. holds the collection of audio
materials acquired from the Transcription Centre in the 1970s.