Research value of 19th and 20th centuries unpublished diaries of missionaries and others in the Unisa Hesse Collection of German Africana

  • M Coetzee
Keywords: Diaries, missionaries, Hesse Collection of German Africana, archives


The Unisa Library’s Hesse Collection of German Africana has acquired a number of very valuable and unique diaries over the years. Diaries have an exceptional cultural historical value and can provide new thoughts and new information, but above all they can also provide warmth and life. This is something that an official record seldom achieves. The study of archival documentation, including diaries, tends to heighten the understanding of the study of history as a deductive process. This article focuses on the possible research value of diaries to contemporary scholars in subjects such as missiology, theology, geography, anthropologyand history. The missionary diaries in the Unisa Archives provide information on subjects such as land ownership, social and cultural history, folklore, the development of African languages as written languages, genealogies of tribal chiefs, traditional medicines, religious and educational matters, etc. As a result of the transcriptions of the handwritten Sütterlin Schrift manuscript German diaries, 21st century researchers have easier access to the information in the diaries. Furthermore, the article describes the diaries of Otto RobertBelling, Otto Posselt, Carl Kadach, Johan Albert Nachtigal, Carl Adolf Gustav Hoffmann, Hermann Friedrich Kuschke and his wife Adele Steinwender. It is hoped that the study will promote and encourage the exploration and usage of original diaries for research purposes as they may well help to stimulate new academic research.

Key words: Diaries, missionaries, Hesse Collection of German Africana,  archives


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1012-2796