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Date updated: 6/12/2023

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is delighted to announce a new project that will catalogue and open up the previously inaccessible Africa Centre archives collection to researchers and the public.

The cataloguing of the Africa Centre archives is being funded by a £44,100 grant awarded from Archives Revealed. Archives Revealed is a partnership programme between The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation, and is the only funding stream in the UK dedicated to cataloguing and unlocking archives.

Cataloguing The Africa Centre Archives – preserving the past to educate the future

The Africa Centre is a London-based charity that educates about, connects to and advocates for Africa and its diaspora through arts, innovation, culture, thought leadership and education, and has been a proud custodian of African culture, heritage and debate since its establishment in 1961.

The Centre deposited its archive at LMA in 2018. The records date from 1956 to 2017 and include minutes, annual reports and accounts, subject files, building plans, photographs of events and artists, and publicity material. The cataloguing grant from Archives Revealed will enable LMA to employ a dedicated project archivist to catalogue the archive to item level.

The catalogue will be available on LMA’s online public access Collections Catalogue and the archive made accessible for research at LMA. Working in partnership with the Africa Centre, subsequent volunteer projects will focus at LMA on more detailed listing of photographic and audio visual material and at the centre enabling volunteers to welcome visitors and speak knowledgeably about the collection.

A selection of leaflets from the Africa Centre archives
A selection of leaflets from the Africa Centre archives

Cataloguing the archive will facilitate digitisation of selected times which will be made available online and used extensively for engagement and educational work by both partners. Removing barriers to access will be key to the archive’s wide engagement. Collaboration with LMA and wider partnerships will support the Africa Centre in disseminating the archives beyond its core community to mainstream audiences.

It is envisaged that this ambitious project will inspire other communities to collect, preserve and catalogue their records, to ensure their survival and make them available for study.

"LMA tells the stories of London and Londoners and we are delighted that this grant from Archives Revealed will allow us to work with the Africa Centre to discover and share the history of the Centre itself and Londoners with African heritage and connections. We look forward to taking these stories to new audiences, believing that everyone should be able to explore, discuss and celebrate London’s extraordinary history."

Charlotte Scott, Acting Director of LMA (Job share)

The Archives Revealed funding programme focuses on transforming access to archives for a wide range of users, enabling more people to engage with the UK’s rich documentary heritage. Alongside (Insert organisation name), seven other organisations received funding in the July 2021 round of cataloguing grants: Archives and Cornish Studies, University of Stirling Archives, Manchester Art Gallery, Culture Perth and Kinross, Yorkshire Film Archives, University of Liverpool, and Acme.

"The phrase ‘cataloguing a collection’ only begins to hint at the immense impact that these projects will have for communities and researchers. By cataloguing archives, we can reveal hidden stories representing the lives of people across the UK and, most importantly, we can help people access these records for themselves for the very first time. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation to make these discoveries possible."

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Collections and Research at The National Archives

About the Archives Revealed funding partners:

The Pilgrim Trust

The Pilgrim Trust is an independent grant-making trust that supports the urgent and future needs of the UK. It gives approximately £3 million in grants per year to charities and other public bodies that either focus on preserving the UK’s heritage or on catalysing social change.

Its preservation and scholarship fund aims to preserve the fabric of historically important buildings and to conserve significant collections and artefacts. It wants present and future generations to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage found throughout the UK.

The Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts.

Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 14,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

The National Archives

The National Archives is a non-ministerial department, and the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. They are the guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents.

The National Archives are expert advisers in information and records management and are a cultural, academic and heritage institution. They fulfil a leadership role for the archive sector and work to secure the future of physical and digital records.