Yale University Library


Yale University Library News

Older Library News
News Feeds
Unique Niane Audiotapes Collection made Available through Arcadia Support

A unique project at the Yale University Library is making 63 reel-to-reel tapes, comprising the pioneering research of noted Guinean scholar, Professor Djibril Tamsir Niane, available online to students and scholars. Made in the 1970s, the tapes include field recordings, interviews, ceremonies and practices of several groups, in particular the Baga and Maninka.

The research expeditions conducted in Guinea by Professor Niane and his students were historical events in themselves. In Guinea-Conakry during 1969-71, Professor Niane conducted research while the Sekou Touré regime’s "demystification program" focused on the destruction of all traditional cultural elements, actively discouraging academic interest in such subjects. At considerable personal risk, Niane and a team of his university students broke new ground by investigating Baga culture in their coastal villages, as well as collecting oral history and tradition elsewhere in Guinea. Niane was later imprisoned and eventually escaped into exile.

The resulting material is the only significant body of audio historical data on indigenous history and culture collected between 1958 and Sekou Touré’s death in 1984. It was not possible for other outside researchers to work in Guinea until after Touré’s death, so the Niane collection represents virtually the only research on Guinean history and culture between the period of French administration and the end of the 1980s. The preservation of and online access to this unique collection makes a valuable primary source available to scholars of Guinea worldwide for the first time.

The collection was catalogued by distinguished Africa scholar David Conrad

This project was generously sponsored by the Arcadia Fund. Arcadia is the charitable foundation of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Since its inception in 2001 Arcadia has awarded grants in excess of $190 million. Arcadia works to protect endangered treasures of culture and nature. For more information please see: http://www.arcadiafund.org.uk/about/about-arcadia

"The world of African studies at Yale and far beyond owes an immense debt to Professor Niane for his singular and heroic efforts on behalf of these African peoples, to David Conrad for his unstinting efforts to provide access to these materials, and to the Arcadia Fund for making access available," said Dorothy Woodson, Africana Curator at the Yale Library.

To access the collection, please see:
For more information, contact:

Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian
Collections & International Programs

Dorothy Woodson, Curator
African Collection