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MSS 350

The Western Sudan Collection of David Robinson, 1960s-2000sAdd to your cart.

Table of Contents

Contact Infomation:

Special Collections

Michigan State University Libraries

100 Main Library

East Lansing, MI 48824



URL: http://specialcollections.lib.msu.edu

Date Processed:


Acquisitions Information:

Papers donated by David Robinson.

Preferred Citation:

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Box number, Folder number and/or title, The Western Sudan Collection of David Robinson, MSS 350, Special Collections, Michigan State University Main Library

Copyright Notice:

Copyright is retained by the author of the items in this archive, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Usage Restrictions:

There are no restrictions on the access of this collection.

Photoduplication Restrictions:

Contact Special Collections

Collection Summary:

The collection consists of materials collected by David Robinson (History and African Studies, Michigan State University) while doing research in francophone West Africa and France on the Haal-Pulaar people, especially those in Futa Toro (the middle valley of the Senegal River) and along their paths of migration into Mali, with a focus on the movement organized by Umar Tal. Over the course of 40 years of research, these materials were invaluable in preparing the publications Chiefs and Clerics: Abdul Bokar Kan and the History of Futa Toro (1975), The Holy War of Umar Tal (1985), After the Jihad: the Reign of Ahmad al-Kabir in the Western Sudan (1991, with John Hanson), and, to a lesser extent, Paths of Accommodation: Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880-1920 (2000).

These materials will be of interest to those concerned with a wide variety of themes in the 19th century history of Senegal and Mali, and to a lesser extent of Mauritania and Guinea Conakry.

Planned donations for this collection includes interview transcripts and tapes, primary and secondary materials on the Western and Central Sudan, maps and atlas, theses on Western Sudan, and additional materials.

Historical Background:

David Robinson is a pioneer in the writing of the history of Muslim communities in Africa. In the 1960s and 1970s, when African history was emerging as a new area of study, historians of Africa were mainly concerned with reconstructing the history of the pre-colonial states and telling the story of the Atlantic Slave trade. They left the study of religion to the social scientists. Going against the grain, Robinson made an important contribution by both focusing on the history of the Muslim communities that form the majority of the population of Western Sudan and demonstrating the critical importance of local written and oral sources for a credible reconstruction of the African past. Because of his original and masterful scholarship, Robinson is celebrated as one of the most influential historians of West Africa.

Processing Note:

Processed by Joe Lauer. Jill Abood assisted with the processing of the front matter.


Series I:

Correspondance Indigène (Archives Nationales du Senegal) and Other Dossiers

Series II:

Selected Arabic Manuscripts from the Umarian Library of Segu

Series III:

Chronicles on the Western Sudan

Series IV:


Series I.  Correspondance indigène (Archives Nationales du Senegal) and other dossiers. (Boxes 1-4)


These folders were created by the French by the turn of the 20th century for letters from indigenous West African leaders. In general these were from or to Muslim leaders, kings, chiefs and scholars, mostly in Arabic, and were written in the last half of the 19th century. Many of the letters are addressed to the French; but the archivists also put caches of letters which they captured as they advanced into Soudan (Mali) in the late 19th century. Occasionally a French translation is attached, carried out by someone in the Political Affairs or Muslim Affairs Bureau, located in Saint-Louis or Dakar.

In addition, there is a considerable amount of correspondence from French officers, especially the commandants of posts such as Podor and Salde (Futa Toro) or Bakel and Senoudebou (Upper Senegal).

Most of the authors were located on the frontiers of further east in what would become Soudan (Mali), and they were writing primarily in the 1880s and 1890s, before the French consolidated their holdings under the Government General of French West Africa (from 1895 in Saint-Louis, from 1900 in Dakar). The authors lived in states and societies that were still mainly independent, although in some cases in protectorate relations with the French or heavily influenced by the French as they expanded into what would become French West Africa.

The letters are contained primarily in 2 series: 13G, which is mostly about the frontiers of Senegal, and 15G, which deals with the area of Soudan (Mali). My photocopies were printed from copies of microfilm obtained from the French colonial archives in Aix-en-Provence in 1977; the microfilm was originally done in Dakar at the Archives Nationales du Senegal. I deposited my positive microfilm at the Yale University Library. A copy is also in Section D of this collection.

The material is extremely rich, but must be read in the context of what was happening in the different areas of what became Senegal and Soudan.

Outline of files (followed by detailed notes):

13G 136-7, Correspondance avec les chefs du Toro (western Futa Toro), 1852-87.

13G 139-43, Correspondance avec les chefs du Fouta (in general central and eastern Futa Toro),   1846-90

13G 144, Correspondance avec les chefs du Lao et des Yirlabe (western and central Futa Toro),   1875-82.

13G 151, 153, and 154, Salde, 1880-90.  Post correspondence.

13G 163, Correspondance avec les chefs du Damga (eastern Futa Toro), 1860-91.

13G 176-80, Bakel correspondence.

13G 242-3, Correspondance avec les chefs du Boundou (eastern Senegal), 1836-95.

13G 244, indigène.  Goye, Logo, Guidimakha, and the region of Bakel, 1880-93

13G 245, Correspondance indigène reçue par le Commandant de Bakel et al, 1865-70.

13G 246-47, Senoudebou, for certain years between 1846 and 1860.

15G 62, Correspondance indigène, El Hadji et ses partisans, 1860.

15G 63, Correspondance indigènes avec le Kaarta, 1840-83.

15G 64, Correspondance indigène avec le Khasso, 1860-83.

15G 66, Correspondance indigène avec des chefs divers, y compris Dama.

15G 68, Correspondance indigène, 1887-90, y compris Amadou Sheku, Madani et Mountaga.

15G 69, Correspondance indigène, maures et peulhs, 1888-91.

15G 70, Correspondance indigène, Nioro, 1890-91.

15G 71, Correspondance indigène, 1890-91.

15G 74, Correspondance avec les chefs Ahmed el-Kebir et al, 1892-95.

15G 75, Correspondance avec Aguibou, 1888-90.

15G 76, Correspondance avec des chefs divers, 1880-94.

15G 77-80, Correspondance avec des chefs divers, 1880-96.

15G 81, Correspondance indigène, 1888-90 (registre)

15G 82, Correspondance indigène diverse, 1888-90.

15G 108-9, Correspondance du  poste de Medine, 1853-1875

Note: Corresponding microfilm (from Aix en Provence, 1977) listed in Section D (below).

Senegal, 13G files

Box Folder/Description
1 13G 136, Toro. Correspondance avec les chefs indigènes, 1852-63.
    The French built the fort at Podor in Toro in 1854 and staffed it with a seasoned commandant and staff, close to the end point of year round navigation on the Senegal River.  Shortly after that Governor Faidherbe established a protectorate over the province of Toro, under the Lam Toro, from the Sall lineage residing in Gede (Guede).  Much of the material consists of letters between the Lam Toro, the commandant of Podor and the governor, in French and some Arabic.  163 pieces.
  13G 137, Correspondance avec les chefs du Toro, 1866-87.

  During the subsequent period Toro continued under the French protectorate overseen by the commandant at Podor.  Similar content to 13G 136.  198 pieces.  Much of the material is in French, and some of these prints have faded and are difficult to read.
  13G 139, Correspondances adressées au Gouverneur au sujet du Fouta, 1846-54.
    During this period Fouta (Futa Toro) is independent of French control, even the province of Toro.  But French trading vessels, and occasionally gunboats, do travel up and down the river, particularly around the gum trade.  Much of the correspondence is between the chief of state, called the Almamy, and the Governor or his agents in the Political Affairs Bureau.  The original letters were in Arabic.  In some cases French translations are provided; in some cases, the Arabic originals have not survived.  94 pieces.
  13G 140, Correspondances adressées au Gouverneur (chefs indigènes et quelques batiments du fleuve), 1855-66.
    During this period the Futa is in greater disarray.  As with 13G 139, most of the correspondence is between the Almamy and his entourage and the governor and his aides, primarily in Arabic with some French translation.  103 pieces.
  13G 141, Correspondances adressées au Gouverneur de divers chefs du Fouta, 1867-77.
    The main correspondant of the governor and his aides is Abdul Bokar Kane, a grand elector of Futa and from Bosseya province (see Robinson, Chiefs and Clerics, 1975).  The letters are again primarily in Arabic, with occasional French translations.  80 pieces.
  13G 142, Correspondances avec des chefs indigènes, 1879-83.
    Features Abdul Bokar, and some letters from the Almamy and other leaders.  34 pieces.
  13G 143, Correspondances avec des chefs indigènes, 1885-90.
    This has a pronounced shift to eastern Futa and the region of Bakel, and to the challenge posed by Mamadu Lamine Drame.  Abdul Bokar is still a featured correspondant, and at this time is an ally of the French against Mamadu Lamine.  205 pieces, many of them are being French translations corresponding to the Arabic originals (in other words, not 205 individual letters).
Box Folders/Description
2 13G 144, Correspondances avec des chefs indigènes du Lao et des Yirlabe, 1875-82.
    This focuses on 2 regions of central Futa where the French were developing stronger interests, verging on protectorates.  Ibra Almamy Wane, from the Wane lineage of Mbumba (Lao province), emerges as a protagonist against Abdul Bokar in this period.  135 pieces.
  13G 151, 153, and 154, Salde, 1880-90.  Post correspondence.

  This important post in the middle of Futa Toro (province of Yirlabe) occasionally had important commandants with important assignments for the French.  During this period the commandants were well seasoned veterans such as Paul Holle and Victor Allys, and they weighed in on a number of subjects important to Lao, the conflicts of Abdul Bokar and Ibra Almamy, the threat posed by Mamadu Lamine Drame at far away Bakel, as well as the final conquest of Futa in 1890.  A considerable amount of correspondance indigène, usually in Arabic and French, is included as well.
  13G 163, Damga.  Correspondances avec des chefs indigènes, 1860-94.
    Damga is the eastern province of Futa Toro, where the French develop strong interests beginning with the establishment of the post of Matam in 1857.  The letters, again in Arabic with occasional French translations, come from a variety of leaders at the regional and village levels.  Some of the material concerns Bundu, the kingdom south of Damga where the French established strong investments from the mid-19th century.  164 pieces.
  13G 176, Bakel. Register of correspondence between the commandant of Bakel and the governor, 1850-52.
    This register consists of copies of letters sent by the commandant during a very critical period in the Upper Senegal and Middle Niger, when Bakel was virtually the only regular point of observation for the French.  All of the material is in French.  About 43 letters.
  13G 177.  Bakel.  Register of correspondence leaving Bakel and destined mainly for the governor, 1859-63.
    Like the previous dossier, this register consists of copies of letters sent by the commandant during a very critical period in Futa, the Upper Senegal and Middle Niger, when Bakel was the main center of missions and observation, and had a seasoned officer in charge.   All of the material is in French.  About 43 letters.
  13G 178.  Bakel.  Register of correspondence leaving Bakel and destined mainly for the governor, 1857-67.
    This register is less interesting and comes mainly from the administrative officer serving with the commandant.  A lot of it deals with supplies for the fort and operations.
  13G 179.  Bakel.  Register of correspondence leaving the post of Bakel, 1866-87.
    This register is a photographic reproduction of the original dossier which was burned.  It is difficult to read because of the fading and the small handwriting, but contains some interesting observations.
  13G 180.  Bakel.  Register of correspondence leaving the post of Bakel, 1869.
    This register has considerable interest because of the events of that year in the Upper Senegal, including the impact of the cholera epidemic (which killed the longtime French ally in Khasso, Kartum Sambala).
  13G 242.  Boundou.  Correspondances adressées au Gouverneur par des chefs indigènes, 1836-89.
    This material covers the long relationship of the French with Bundu, around the construction and operation of the post of Bakel, which for much of the 19th century was the French headquarters for operations in the Upper Senegal and further east.  125 pieces.
  13G 243.  Boundou.  Correspondances adressées au Gouverneur par des chefs indigènes, 1881-93
    This material covers a key period when the French are consolidating their positions in the Upper Senegal, dealing with.the threat of Mamadu Lamine Drame, etc.  63 pieces.
Box Folders/Description
3 13G 244, Correspondance indigène.  Goye, Logo, Guidimakha, and the region of Bakel, 1880-93.
    This dossier focuses on Bakel, the trade in gum Arabic, and relations with local leaders, including the Idawaish Moors.   91 pieces.
  13G 245, Register of correspondence received by the Ct Bakel et al, from local leaders, 1865-70.  Register.

  This focuses on a particularly turbulent period in the history of eastern Senegal, Bakel, and the kingdom of Bundu.  Bokar Saada, the Almamy of Bundu, features a great deal, along with Abdul Bokar and leaders from Futa Toro.
  13G 246, Senoudebou.  Register of correspondence send by the post, mainly to the governor, 1847-63.
    This post, in the southern part of Bundu on the Faleme tributary of the Senegal, was important to the French from time to time in the 19th century. 142 pieces.
  13G 247, Senoudebou.  Diverse letters, mainly from the commandant, for certain years between 1846 and 1860.
    This dossier contains some interesting material for a period when Senoudebou and Bakel were the only posts of observation for the French in the Upper Senegal.

Soudan, 15G materials

Here the archivist groups together in the 15G series materials that involve the Soudan (Mali) well before it comes under French control in the 1880s.  The Bakel and then the Matam posts were key bases of operation for the French, and places where much of the correspondence was received or dispatched.  The main protagonists are Umar and his inheritors, who controlled much of the Soudan area and were portrayed by the French as the “Tokolor Empire.”  Some material dealing with Samori Ture and the long conflict with him in the 1880s and 1890s also appears.

See the detailed sheets on each dossier, with an entry for virtually every item.

Box Folders/Description
  15G 62, Correspondance indigène.  El-Hadji et ses partisans, 1860.
    A small but important dossier, at a time of considerable tension between the Umarians and the French for hegemony in the Upper Senegal.  Arabic and French.  13 pieces.
  15G 63, Correspondance indigène, Kaarta, 1840-83.

  Another small but important dossier, scattered over the years, and going from the time of the Bambara regime in Kaarta to the Umarian one based in Nioro.  Arabic and French.  16 pieces.
  15G 64, Correspondance indigène, Khasso, 1860-83.
    Khasso was the Mandinka kingdom around the fort of Matam; it was allied with the French for most of the late 19th century, under Kartum Sambala Diallo and his family.  Arabic and French.  12 pieces.
  15G 66, Correspondance indigène, avec des chefs divers (Dama, Tity de Bamako, etc.), 1880-87.
    Interesting material, produced as the French were advancing into Soudan.  French and some Arabic.
  15G 68, Correspondance indigène, 1887-90.
    A large dossier of great importance, as the French under the Commandant Superieur, based at Medine and then Kayes (Gallieni and then Archinard), conduct the campaigns of conquest against the Umarians, led by Umar’s son Ahmad al-Kabir.  Divided into a number of sections or “chemises.” Arabic and some French.  92 pieces in total.
  • Caron mission, letters written at Niagassola, 1887
  • Moussa Molo, chef de Firdu, and Niani-Ouli, 1888 (actually in Upper Gambia, but coming under the control of the Commandant Superieur)
  • Madani, son of Ahmad al-Kabir and commanding at Segu after 1884, 1888.
  • Almamy de Touba, 1888
  • Karamoko Diara, Bambar chief, Beledugu, 1888
  • Khasso, Logo, Natiaga, Bambuk, Dantilia, 1888-9 (small riverine kingdoms of the Upper Senegal, along the line of the French advance).
  • Correspondence with Ahmad al-Kabir and other Umarians (very important).
  • Bafing.
  • Lettres indigènes diverses.
  • Kayes, 1890.
  15G 69, Correspondance indigène, Maures et Peulhs, 1888-91.
    Important dossier.  About 2/3 of the letters involve the Moors, 1/3 the Peulhs.  All of the material is related to the French advance.  Much of this correspondence was probably in and out of Bakel, Medine and Kayes.  Arabic and French.
  15G 70, Correspondance indigène, Nioro, 1890-1.
    Extremely important dossier, dealing with the French (Archinard) conquest of Nioro, which had become the capital of Ahmad al-Kabir after 1884.  Through the letters one can see the successful French military strategy, including defections from the Umarian ranks.  Arabic and French.  61 pieces.
  15G 71, Correspondance indigène, 1890-1.
    Another important dossier, with subdivisions or “chemises” established on the basis of the kingdom or the leader.  About 15 pieces.
  • Sero.
  • Markadugu, Almamy Touba.
  • Hamon. Intelligence on Muniru b Umar at Bandiagara.
  • Bafoulabe
  • Masina. Letter from a descendant of the royal family of Hamdullahi pledging support to the French campaign.
  15G 74, Correspondance avec les chefs indigènes, Ahmad al-Kabir,
    An extremely important dossier, consisting of a register of French translations of Arabic letters, mainly from and to Ahmad al-Kabir and his circle.  They seem to have been translated in Kayes about 1894, and were perhaps captured in Bandiagara in 1893.  The first and main section includes subsections B, A and L.  The second section has several letters from Ahmad al-Bakkay, written probably in the early 1860s as he sought to mount a campaign against Umar in Masina.
  15G 75, Correspondance avec des chefs indigènes, Aguibou, 1888-1900.
    Another large and important dossier, in which one can see the growing relationship between Agibu b Umar and the French, up until the moment that Colonel Archinard puts Agibu on the “throne” of Bandiagara in 1893 as the “king of Masina,” just as Ahmad al-Kabir and his circle hastily depart Bandiagara for the east in what is known as the hijra Ahmad al-Kabir  Most of the material goes up to 1894.
  15G 76, Correspondance avec les chefs indigènes, Ahmadou, 1880-94.
    A large and important dossier, organized around the campaign to undermine Ahmad al-Kabir and conquer the “Tokolor Empire.”  French strategy and correspondence with many Umarians and Umarian opponents; French translations of Arabic correspondence found in Segu and Nioro.  About 225 pieces. [See MAMMP, reel 3.]
  15G 77, lettres des chefs indigènes, 1880-96.
    Important file consisting of archives seized by the French as they took over the Soudan, including correspondence of al-hajj Buguni and other leaders of the Middle Niger, materials from Bandiagara, and the archives of the post of Kayes, the headquarters of the commandant superieur.
Box Folders/Description
4 15G 78, lettres des chefs indigènes, 1880-96.
    Important file of various elements, including the archives of Ahmad al-Kabir and Muntaga from Nioro, correspondence of the posts of Sigiri, Kurussa and Kayes; materials on the mission of Peroz into Wasulu and other elements of the relations with Samori.  Some of the material consists of Arabic originals of translations in 15G 81.  249 pieces.
  15G 79, lettres des chefs indigènes, 1880-96.

  Important file of varied elements.  The most important seem to be the archives of Bandiagara, which include some letters of Ahmad al-Bakkay from the early 1860s, letters of Ahmad al-Tijani who ruled over Bandiagara and much of Masina from 1864-1887, his successor Munir b Umar and finally Ahmad al-Kabir, who fled from Nioro to Bandiagara in 1891.  Also included are some letters of Ahmad al-Kabir taken from Nioro in 1891, and some of Archinard’s correspondence written in Kayes with Umarians, as he was preparing to move against Nioro 175 pieces.  Some of the Arabic originals correspond to the French translations in 15G 74.
  15G 80, lettres arabes.
    Important file of varied elements.  Sections include letters to al-hajj Buguni, Ahmad al-Kabir, his counselor Seydu Jeliya, his son Madani, and many others.  Arabic.  The first section of the letters were taken by the French from Segu in 1890.  The other sections may have been taken from Nioro.  Most were written in the 1870s and 1880s.  A number of letters carry Ahmad’s seal.
  15G 81, correspondance indigène, 1888-90.
    Register of translations of Arabic letters sent to and received from leaders in the Soudan, eastern Senegal and Futa Jalon during the campaigns of conquest of Archinard.  The register was produced in Kayes.  Many of the translations correspond to letters in 15G 68.  The sections and sub-sections correspond to the leaders, such as the various and often competing sons of al-hajj Umar.
    Section A:
  • Ahmad al-Kabir (at Nioro at the time)
  • Madani b Umar, letters written from the post in Bamako
  • Muniru b Umar
  • Agibu b Umar
  • Beledugu and Karamoko Diara
  • Tieba
  • Samori
  • Kong
  • Bafing
    Section B: Bundu
    Section C: Goye, Kamera and Gidimaka
    Section D: Damga, Futa
    Section E: Futa Jalon and Markadugu section on Markadugu-Worulua and Almamy of Tuba

  15G 108, Medine.  Correspondance du commandant du poste de Medine reçue par le Gouverneur du Senegal, 1853-69.
    Valuable letters in French between this extended outpost and Saint-Louis, at a time when the French presence in the Soudan was very limited.   134 pieces.
  15G 109, Correspondance du commandant du poste de Medine reçue par le Gouverneur du Senegal, 1870-75.
    Valuable letters from this French outpost during a time of retrenchment of French involvement in West Africa.  150 pieces.

Series II. Selected Arabic manuscripts from the Umarian library of Segu (Boxes 5-6)


The Umarian library of Segu, also called the Fonds Archinard, is housed at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The material was brought from Segu, the main Umarian capital, by Colonel Louis Archinard after capturing the city in 1890. The BNP bound the volumes and put them at the disposition of researchers in the early 20th century in the Fonds Arabe.

There are 518 volumes in all, and 491 of them are consecutive from volume 5259 of the Fonds Arabe to volume 5749. The volumes vary in size, averaging around 300 folios, and usually contain multiple documents. Occasionally a long Arabic manuscript, authored in West Africa or the Islamic heartlands, will fill up most of a volume. Everything is in Arabic, with the exception of occasional `ajami pieces, usually quite short and in Pulaar.

The material was produced or collected in essentially 3 periods: 1, the period of al-hajj Umar’s pilgrimage and teaching (up to 1852), 2, the period of his jihad of the sword against the Mandinka, Bambara and Masina (1852-64), and 3, the reign of his son Ahmad al-Kabir or Amadu Sheku (1864-93). Umar probably began the archives / library while he was teaching in Futa Jalon, and Ahmad al-Kabir expanded it during his reign from Segu, which began in 1862 as his father took the army to campaign against Masina, and ended in 1884, when Ahmad left for Nioro and put his son Madani in charge in Segu. We have no details about the care and creation of the archives / library; some may be found from a close reading of the documents.

For an initial and rather hastily completed inventory of the whole collection, see Noureddine Ghali, Sidi Mohamed Mahibou and Louis Brenner, eds, Inventaire de la Bibliothèque `Umarienne de Segou, Editions du CNRS, 1985. This was compiled in the early 1980s thanks to a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to Yale University. Microfilm and perhaps paper copies of the collection are supposedly held at the Centre Ahmed Baba in Timbuktu and at the Umarian library in Dakar. The 16 original cahiers compiled by Mahibou and especially Ghali are included in the collection.

The documents which BNP (Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris) copied are only a small part of this vast collection. The description of the contents are often approximative, reflecting the work in the Inventaire and a hasty reading. But these documents clearly contain important insights that will emerge from careful reading, both for the career and reign of Umar Tal and those of his son Ahmad al-Kabir. For each entry, the first number refers to the volume of the Fonds Arabe at the BNP, the second to the folios within the volume.

A very few of the most important items for reconstructing Ahmad’s reign can be found, with photos of the Arabic text and English translation, in John Hanson and David Robinson, After the Jihad: the Reign of Ahmad al-Kabir in the Western Sudan (Michigan State University Press, 1991). The materials used extensively are listed in The Holy War of Umar Tal, pp 376-78.


5442, 182-4, letter from someone in the Tagant to Umar

5484, 113-20, letters from the 1860s announcing the achievements of the Umarian jihad and Ahmad al-Kabir. Some of this is found in Jules Salenc, “La vie d’Al Hadj Omar. Traduction d’un manuscrit arabe de la Zaouia Tidjania de Fez,” Bulletin du CEHSAOF, 1918.

5519, a significant amount of poetry and correspondence by Umar, al-Bakkay and Yirkoy Talfi, including 51-3, poem in praise of conquest of Segu

5543, 48-64, various letters and poetry, associated with Ahmad al-Tijani (probably of Bandiagara)

5561, 4-5, poem of Umar Jeliya

5561, 63-73, material on reign of Ahmad al-Kabir, including 66-9, fatwa of al-Hajj Sa`id on the revolts of the brothers of Ahmad al-Kabir

5573, 10-13, poems of Umar Jeliya

5573, 54-61, Umar’s responses to questions

5573, 177-9, poetry

5577, 102-15, collection of letters of Ahmad al-Tijani to disciples at Fez

5582, 28-51, debts contracted by Moorish traders to Waly Bandia in Bakel in 1852-3, in Arabic and French

5582, 53-8, poetry of al-Kansusi and in praise of Ahmad al-Kabir

5584, 88-92 and 126-8, poetry, tasawwuf

5605, 93, colophon of Muhammad al-Makki, son of Umar

5606, 182-4, Umar b Muhammad al-Awsi to Ahmad al-Bakkay

5608, 289-91, Umar’s responses to questions

5609, 19-34, Umar, Tadhkirat al-Ghafilin

5609, 35-40, poem in praise of Ahmad al-Kabir

5640, 25-44, corpus celebrating Ahmad al-Kabir and triumph at Gemukura and renewal as Commander of the Faithful

5671, entire volume of 157 folios, poetry, tasawwuf, tawhid

5678, 66-70, fiqh & tasawwuf

5678, 118-9, poem by Kunta leader in praise of the Prophet

5678, 159-63, commentary on work of Umar b Shaikh Baba al-Saridugi

5680, 157-69, poetry and biographical notices on Tijaniyya, in praise of Umar; one poem by Yirkoy Talfi

5680, 184-8, letter about dealing with sick animals and their slaughter

5683, 153-65, materials of fiqh, hadith, tasawwuf

5684, 143-50, poems and prayers, devoted to Umarians

5688, 24-28, letters concerning mobilization for jihad

5688, 37-8, letter about jihad (Sokoto)

5689, 53-67, poems and praise of Ahmad al-Kabir

5689, 94-9, poems and praise of Ahmad al-Kabir

5693, 1-73, variety of small works relating to Umar, Ahmad al-Kabir, the Kunta et al, including 1-2, Umar to Muhammad al-Kanemi, 4-7, 2 letters from the Halwar/Toro community to Umar in Sokoto

5695, 60-8, poetry, division, tasawwuf, including poem of Muhammad al-Makki

5713, whole volume is important to Ahmad al-Kabir’s reign in Segu, and in praise of him; here are selections from the whole, including 37-8, chronicle of Seydu Jeliya on Ahmad’s campaigns, 43-4, expression of allegiance of the community of Walata, 49, Hadi, Agibu and Mahi to Ahmad al-Kabir about events in 1862. 60-62, problems of Medine and Bakel.

5716, 1-65, dossier about the Umarian enterprise and reign of Ahmad al-Kabir, including 21-24, Umar on responses to questions, 32-40, Umar b Muhammad al-Awsi, excerpts from and commentary upon his correspondence with Ahmad al-Bakkay in 1862, 42-9, chronicle and poetry about events of reign of Ahmad al-Kabir. 182-5, Muhammad al-Awsi to Ahmad al-Bakkay

5717, 6-73, variety of letters and poetry relating to Ahmad al-Kabir

5719, 95-112, variety of letters and poetry, especially relating to the 1850s and Dingiray

5721, 81-96, letters relating to reign of Ahmad al-Kabir, including 81-2, Ja`far b al-Mahdi to Ahmad al-Kabir; 91, Umar to Mustafa in Nioro; 92, Bakar b Iswayr Ahmad to Mustafa in Nioro; 93, Commander of the Faithful to Bughul and others in eastern Futa.

5721, 16-7, 50-54, 86-99, 118-22, 134-6, letters and treatises on reign of Ahmad al-Kabir

5722, corpus devoted to Ahmad al-Kabir, including 51, Commander of the Faithful to the Sultan of Cayor, and 134-5, poem by Umar

5734, 54-65, poetry, tasawwuf, medicine, perhaps relating to Kunta

5734, 80-89, poems in praise of Ahmad al-Kabir

5737, 47-75, reign of Ahmad al-Kabir, including 59, Makki to Ahmad al-Kabir

5740, 144-57, events of reign of Ahmad al-Kabir, including dates of battles around Segu, 1860-1

5744, 37-44, 63-4, 73-6, poetry and letters relating to the reign of Ahmad al-Kabir

6107, 116-8, poetry and letter relating to the reign of Ahmad al-Kabir

Original cahiers for Inventaire de la Bibliothèque `Umarienne de Segou

Robinson notes from published Inventaire, with corrections:

blue: M1 (vol. 5147-) – M5 (-vol 5499);

orange: G1 (vol. 5500-) – G19 (vols. 5734, 5735, 5636, 5673 & 5651);

blue: M6 (vol. 6096-vol. 6851)

Series III. Chronicles on the Western Sudan

Arabic chronicles relating to particular regions in West Africa that I have collected over the years. There is no connection among them and no common provenance. They were probably written decades ago, by a local chronicler, on the basis of extant traditions, often ones transmitted orally, and in some cases recently updated or recopied. There is rarely any translation in French or any other language. I suspect some informed inhabitants of the regions or their capital cities know the contents and may use them in recitations about their history. I have used the expression “Ta’rikh,” chronicle, to reflect the kind of history represented. [See microfilm 14944, reels 6 & 7.]

Box Description

Tarikh Gaabu

  I received this copy of a document in January 1995 from Dr Boubacar Barry of Dakar.  Dr Barry in turn had received the document in about 1980 from A Teixeira de Mota, the famous Portuguese historian of West Africa.  Teixeira da Mota presumably acquired the document somewhere in Guine-Bissau, some of which was in the old kingdom of Gaabu.  Dr Barry has the original from which this copy was made.

Tarikh Dingiray


I received this copy in 1981 from Dr Labelle Prussin, who made a photographic copy in the town of Dingiray about that time.  It is difficult to read, but seems to have been composed at the time of Ahmad al-Kabir’s reign and even to make reference to his death at Maikulki (late 1897), near Sokoto.  It seems to deal primarily with the Umarian family, and particularly his sons, in Dingiray.

Tarikh Bamako

  This is a poor photocopy I made in 1976.  It seems in fact to deal with the history of the whole Middle Niger, and not just Bamako, across a number of periods corresponding to chapter divisions: the founding of Bamako, the kingdom of Segu, the kingdom of Karta, Shaikh Ahmad Lobbo, Shaikh Umar, the coming of the Christians, Sikasso, and Almamy Samori.

Tarikh Jenne

  This is an account, signed in 1970 and photographed by me in 1976 as part of the MAMMP (Malian Arabic Manuscript Microfilm Project funded by a grant from NEH to Yale University). It deals very summarily with the history of Jenne, within the context of the Middle Niger Delta, and at one point chronicles the reigns of Hamdullahi, then Umar and his nephew Ahmad al-Tijani, and then the French (“Christians”), who controlled the town in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Tarikh Segu

  This chronicle of 47 pages was one I filmed in August 1976 as part of the MAMMP project at the home of Mamadou Jire, called “Benke.”  It was composed by his ancestor or relative, Abdoullay Jire, and divides into chapters.  On p 44 the date 1357 AH, corresponding to 1938-9, appears.

Tarikh Sansanding

  This chronicle, which comes from the CEDRAB collection of Timbuktu, document 34, is the same as volume 5684, ff 138-42 of the Umarian library housed at the BNP in Paris.  It is not a very good copy.   It includes a letter written by the “people” of Sansanding to Ahmad b Ahmad (Amadu III) of Hamdullahi.  This copy was made in 1975.

Tarikh Fittuga

  A document from the Islamic Department of IFAN.

Chronicles on the career and jihad of al-hajj Umar

  Anonymous (Segu 2 in Robinson’a Holy War)
  Bandiagara chronicle

Series IV. Microfilm

Box File Description

1. Archives Nationales du Sénégal, Ancienne Série (ANS)

  19 reels; each reel contains a few documents microfilmed in Dakar, unless otherwise indicated. Matching paper copies for some reels are in boxes 1-3.
  1 Dossier traités, 13G 9, 1G 112, 13G 47

2 1G 41-46 (complete, Aix 1978)  = MAMMP #11; French #1
  3 13G 136, 137, 138, 139, 140 (first part) (complete, Aix 1978) (matching paper copies) – “Arabic 1”
  4 13G 140 (cont’d), 141, 142, 143, 144, 163 (complete, Aix 1978) (matching paper copies) – “Arabic 2”; some of matching paper in box 2
  5 13G 176, 177, 178, 179, 180 (complete, positive from Aix negative, 6/78) (matching paper copies) - French 2
  6 13G 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247 (complete, positive from Aix negative, 6/78) (matching paper copies) – French 3
  7 1D 46, 3E 43
  8 1G 224
  9 13G 101, 121, 169
  10 13G 157, 168
  11 13G 148-9, 158, 170, 171
  12 13G 150, 151, 153, 154 (matching paper copies for the most part)
  13 13G 191, 240, 242, 243: 15G 78
  14 13G 148, 125, 124, 33; 1D 29, 34; 13G 136; 1G 29
  15 1G 32, 82; 15G 108, 109; 13G 244; 15G 62 – also marked French #4-6
  16 J85, complete from Aix
  17 J88, complete from Aix
  18 J91, complete?
  19 Cheruy, Lieutenant P, “Rapport sur les droits de propriété des colade dans le Chamama et le mode d’élection des chefs de terrains,” in Supplément au Journal Officiel, nos 52-54 (1911); 1D 35 (maps, 1 877); 22G 6 (pop. Saint-Louis); 13G 47 (Tierno Molle); 1G 112 (maps 1888); treaties, Firdou 1896

2. Archives Departementales by reels

  20 1D 2/3, no 1 (Ballot report of 14 April 1884)
  21 1D 1/15, 2D 4/13, 1G 292, 294

3. IFAN, Département d’Islam  by reels

  22 - 23 Kamara, Cheikh Moussa, Zuhur al-Basatin fi Ta`rikh al-Sawaddin. 2 vols.
  24 Ta`rikh El Hadj Omar, texte arabe (16 folios), traduction française (49 folios)
    Fonds Brevié, no 11, Fragment d’une traduction, récit historique sur El Hadj Omar (24 folios)
    Fonds Brevié, no 12, Documents historiques sur El Hajj Omar (16 folios)
    Fonds Brevié, no 13, Tarikh du Fouta Toro (2 folios)

4. Centre d’Etude, Documentation et Recherche Ahmed Baba (CEDRAB, Timbuktu) by reels

  25 #114, 624, 683, 847, 958
  26 Robinson, “Manuel d’usage pour les systèmes portatif du microfilmage Olympus,” 1975 (system of copying given to CEDRAB by the Yale / NEH project, in 1978)
    Tabakkiyat al-Bakkay, by Yirkoy Talfi
    206, al-Bakkay m Ain
    179, Diwan Timbuktu
    34, Re Sinsani
    3 letters from Ahmad al-Bakkay

5. Malian Arabic Manuscript Microfilm Project (NEH grant to Yale University, 1978-80) by reels

  27 - 28 2A and B: 14, ANM 2E14, 1E4; “Ibtida and  Tijani” (Madani)
  29 3A: items 3-13
  30 - 31 4A-B
    Toure ms (French)
    Jate Cisse ms
    Toure ms (end to c 127)
    Wane, Documents (portion)
    Ibtida’ Tijani (Madani), from Tijani on
    Karamokho Tal mss
    Tarikh Bamako (part)
    1D 47 (part)
    1D 33
    Dia mss
    5D 45 (Segu)
    5D 36 (Nioro)
    1D 47
    1D 51 (Nioro)
    IFAN, Brevie, campagnes Tijani

6. Miscellaneous by reels

  32 Gamble, DP, files compiled by Stewarts;
    MSS Mamadou Ba
  33 Mission d’Amenagement du Sénégal (MAS), Kanel
    MSS Mamadou Dia
    MSS Oumar Ba
    Paris-Dakar, 1935
  34 Centre de Recherche et Documentation du Saint-Louis (CRDS), various
  35 CMS Archives, WC Thomson (visit to Futa Jalon, 1842-3), CA1/O214 (Reel 50)
  36 “Visages du Fouta”, 1965
    Archives de la Mauritanie: repertoire
    3 enquêtes sur Gorgol, Guidimaka, Mbout
  37 Carrère, Fréderic, and Paul Holle, De la Sénégambie française (published 1855)
  38 Vidal, Administrateur en chef, “Etude sur la tenure des terres indigènes au Fouta dans la Vallée du Sénégal,” mimeo 1924 as Bulletin 72 of the Archives of the Mission de l’Aménagement du Sénégal (MAS) pp 25-125
  39 - Brosselard, Capitaine, Rapport sur la situation dans la vallée du Sénégal en 1886.  Insurrection de Mahmadou Lamine.  Lille, 1888.
    - Vidal, Administrateur en chef, “Etude sur la tenure des terres indigènes au Fouta dans la Vallée du Sénégal,” mimeo 1924 as Bulletin 72 of the Archives of the Mission de l’Aménagement du Sénégal (MAS)
    - Cheruy, Lieutenant P, “Rapport sur les droits de propriété des colade dans le Chamama et le mode d’élection des chefs de terrains,” in Supplément au Journal Officiel, nos 52-54 (1911)
  40 Philip Curtin mss, collected in eastern Senegal, 1966
  41 - 42 2 rolls of indexes of Fonds Archinard (Umarian library of Segu), 8mm from Moore Crossey, Yale UL


7. Assorted negatives and reels of documents and photos, mostly from Futa Toro, 1967-9 by boxes or reels

  43 1-2/68
  44 3/68
  45 4/68
  46 7/68, 9/68
  47 11/68
  48 - 49 1/69
  50 Kane, Moustapha.
  51 Abdoul Dia, Matam (IFAN). in Arabic
  52 Rest of Touré mss.; [Vie d’]El Hadj el Fouti, par Cheick Sidi Mouhammed.
  53 Mali, 8/76, in Arabic

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