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'Eleven exciting years': typescript on the Cameroons

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 141

Scope and Contents

Letters from Elizabeth O'Kelly in the Cameroons (224 pages), itinerary and diary notes (18 pages) and 23 black and white photographs. The document is a photocopy of the original 1965 typescript. Part one covers Buea, 1950-1952; part two covers Nsaw, Barenda Province, 1952-1961. There are accompanying notes, supplied by Miss O'Kelly, describing her career, assignments as a freelance consultant and publications.


  • 2002


Conditions Governing Access

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Biographical / Historical

Elizabeth O'Kelly was born in Manchester on 19 May 1915. She attended Withington Girls School, and was a student at the Royal Manchester College of Music at the outbreak of the Second World War. From 1941 she served in the Women's Royal Navy Service, including eighteen months in Ceylon. She was demobilised with the rank of Second Officer in 1946. After the war she spent one year in Community Development and Social Work at Primrose Hill College, Birmingham, before becoming Assistant Secretary at Yorkshire Rural Community Council. In 1950 Miss O'Kelly joined the Colonial Service as a Woman Education Officer. She was accredited to the Nigerian Civil Service, but was seconded to what was then known as the British Trusteeship Territory of the Southern Cameroons, where she was Principal Rural Development Officer. She was awarded the M.B.E. in 1959, and made a Queen Mother of the Nsaw people by the Fon of Nsaw. She was pensioned off in 1961, and in 1962 was appointed Advisor to the Government of Sarawak on Women's Affairs by the U.K. Overseas Development Administration. She worked with rural women in Sarawak until the end of her contract in 1965, and was awarded the Order of the Star of Sarawak (A.B.S.) in 1964. In 1967 she was sent by the World Council of Churches in Geneva to South Vietnam to take over as Acting Director of the Asian Christian Service, an organisation staffed largely by Asian personnel, seeking to aid refugees. Miss O'Kelly retired to England in 1969, and became General Secretary of the Associated Country Women of the World, the world co-ordinating body of the Women's Institutes movement. She published 'Aid and self help' in 1973, and worked as a freelance consultant with special reference to the use of appropriate technologies to improve the lives of Third World rural women.


1 file(s) (1 ringbinder) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference

MSS 44

Other Finding Aids

MSS Addenda, vol. I.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Elizabeth O'Kelly, November 2002.

Related Materials

The R.C.S. Manuscripts Collection includes 'Borneo in the sixties' (RCMS 337), letters and photographs relating to Miss O'Kelly time in Borneo.


This collection level description was created by RAS using information from the original typescript catalogue.


O'Kelly, Elizabeth, 1915-2012, colonial officer

Includes index.
2003-10-23 09:17:49+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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