Africana Collection

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

 Photo by Andrew Campbell From Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee by Edward T. Bowdich, 1819.


Established in 1954, the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University is the largest separate Africana collection in existence. Its scope is as wide as the continent of Africa itself; its subject matter ranges from art, history, literature, music, and religion to communications, management, and cooking. The Africana collection is a resource for the entire university, and most of Northwestern's disciplinary programs are reflected in the collection. In addition to serving the NU community, the Herskovits Library staff also serves regional, national, and international scholars as well. Reference assistance is available in the Herskovits Library from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

To schedule a research consultation, instruction session for a class, or to learn more about the services we offer at the Herskovits Library, check out our Services page!

Looking for a map of Africa?  Check out this map of Africa & information about each African country, from the CIA World Factbook.

Quick Facts about the Africana Collection

  • 400,000 volumes
  • 2,800 current serials
  • More than 6000 non-circulating rare books
  • 250 current newspapers
  • 20,000 books in African languages - Check out NEW information about this collection!
  • Archival and manuscript collections
  • Extensive collections of ephemera, maps, posters, videos, and photographs
  • Electronic resources for the study of Africa

"Like" the Melville J. Herskovits Library on Facebook!

Program of African Studies at Northwestern University

Also founded by Melville J. Herskovits, the Program of African Studies guides the study of Africa at Northwestern, engaging students and faculty in a wide variety of activities. The program hosts scholars and distinguished visitors from Africa and around the world. Throughout the year, PAS sponsors talks, discussions, readings, films, and other events. PAS also works with other centers of African scholarship in the Chicago area, such as the University of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago, the program also maintains close ties with scholars and other centers of African study around the world.

Students at Northwestern have the opportunity to actively participate in one of the most dynamic centers in the world for the study of Africa. The interdisciplinary and cross-thematic nature of the teaching about Africa challenges students to examine Africa from perspectives of innovative scholarship.