British Library Newspapers holds a broad collection of newspapers from Africa, including many from the 19th century. The collections are strongest for the former British colonies, but there is also material from Francophone and Lusophone Africa. Although the earlier holdings are much more extensive, the Library continues to acquire African newspapers very selectively.
One of the earliest African newspapers held by the British Library is New Era, which was the first paper in Sierra Leone to be owned by a private individual. It was established in 1855, and used as a means of expressing opposition to local governors.
The collections of 19th and 20th century newspapers from South Africa are particularly strong. Holdings are predominantly in English, but also include material in Afrikaans, Zulu, and other African languages.
How to find African newspapers
To search the British Library Newspapers catalogue, use Explore the British Library and select Newspaper Library from the drop-down content scope. Most newspapers are consulted at the British Library Newspaper Reading Room in Colindale, north London.
The British Library holds some newspapers from North, East and South Africa in Arabic and Asian languages. These are accessed at the British Library’s St Pancras building. Details of Arabic newspapers can be found here. A list of Asian language newspapers is available from the Reference Enquiries Desk in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.
Available on-site and remotely to registered readers
African newspapers, part of the Readex World Newspaper Archive, is a full-text digital collection of historical African newspapers (1800-1922). A pilot service, Remote Eresources, enables registered St Pancras Reader Pass holders to access this database remotely.
Available on-site only
The African section of Newsbank newspapers holds a selection of news articles from all over Africa. The emphasis is on recent material.
British newspapers 1800-1900 is a full-text digital resource and includes considerable coverage of Africa. (It is also available free at UK Higher Education institutions.)
Freely available on the internet
AllAfrica.com aggregates newspapers from across the African continent. Newspaper reports can be viewed free of charge for a month after publication.
Dr Marion Wallace, Curator of African Collections
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7829