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George Cansdale's collection on the Gold Coast [i.e. Ghana] 1938-1948

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y30448K

Scope and Contents

Collection of 197 negatives and 6 modern prints. The negatives measure 60 x 60 mm, save for 160-163 which are 35 mm. Apart from nos. 60-112 which are in a negative album, they are all in small envelopes with the subject written on by Mr Cansdale, some have also been numbered by Cansdale. The captions have been used as titles and may include language which is offensive, inaccurate or inappropriate. They have been retained to reflect the context of the collection's creation. Captions supplied by the cataloguer are enclosed in square brackets. The collection chiefly concerns ethnic groups, occupations, market scenes, crafts and some formal occasions. Those of military interest have been lent to the Imperial War Museum which has copied six (62, 160-161, 167-169) for its own files and supplied prints, 180 x 130 mm, to the RCS.

The collection has been grouped in approximate date order, subdivided by area as follows:
1-3 Sierra Leone, 1938
4-46 Keta and other locations east of Accra, 1939
47-59 Kumasi and Ashanti, 1939
60-140 Tamale and Bawku, 1939
141-169 Accra (including Christiansborg Castle) 1939-40
170-180 Togoland, 1941
181-191 Miscellaneous 1941-44 and undated
191-197 Kumasi and Ashanti, 1948.

Of those stored in the negative album, each has an envelope number. Cansdale writes that this album 'is probably the most important part of my collection for this part of N.E. Gold Coast was seldom visited by Europeans and I know of nobody who took detailed photographs there, especially of market scenes, crafts, compounds. etc.' The Dagomba people were centred on Tamale: the Kasasi on Bawku, which is near the border with Upper Volta (now Burkino Faso) and Togo.


  • Creation: 1938 - 1948


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

George Soper Cansdale (b. 1909) was in the Colonial Forest Service of the Gold Coast from 1934 until 1948, when he returned to England to become Superintendent of the Zoological Society of London and to write numerous zoological books and articles.


.01 collection (1 archival box and 1 folder containing 203 images) : photograph

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

good condition

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by George Cansdale in November 1984.

Related Materials

See Y30448V for another collection, on CD, of George Cansdale's photographs on the Gold Coast [i.e. Ghana] 1938-1948.


This collection level description was entered by KS and MJC using information from the original typescript catalogue.

In the negative album, envelope numbers 7, 13, 39-41, 43-44, 54-55, 59, 63, 66, 69-76 and 81-100 are empty. While brief descriptions are given in the album's index, these are not listed in the original typescript catalogue. This indicates that the negatives have been missing for a number of years, possibly from before the collection's presentation to the RCS.


Cansdale, George Soper, 1909-1993, zoologist

Includes index.
2003-09-17 15:41:09+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom