Narrating Knowledge: From Praise Songs and Interviews to Soundscapes

What Is Collected in the Archive?

We accept all materials with reference to Namibia and southern Africa into our Archive. These are mainly unpublished documents, in contrast to the Library’s collection. Where do these documents come from? We consider only collections from Europe because it is important for us that African sources remain accessible in their countries of origin. For this reason, we do not accept original documents from Namibia or southern Africa in our Archive.


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Our archival collections refer mainly to the 20th century and provide widely diverse sources on historical questions. They comprise written material and various image, film and sound documents.


Curious? You are welcome to search our online catalogue and make an appointment should you wish to conduct research in our Archive!

What Is Hidden Behind the Abbreviation PA?

The abbreviation PA stands for the term Personal Archive. These are collections put together by private individuals which were then handed over to the BAB, sorted or unsorted.


These individuals are mostly researchers, journalists, settlers or tourists, who lived and worked for some time in Namibia or other southern African countries or had stayed there for travel and research purposes. Many of these collections were established in colonial contexts.

Some Personal Archives comprise only one file whilst others fill several shelves. What they all have in common is that they are very complex and diverse; many contain different media.

What Does the Abbreviation AA Stand for?

The abbreviation AA refers to the German term Allgemeine Archive (General Archive). In this case two major groups of materials are referred to.


On the one hand, there are archives from organisations or associations. Amongst these are, for example, political solidarity organisations in Switzerland which supported African liberation movements or were part of the European anti-apartheid movement.


On the other hand, the General Archive yields thematic collections which were formed in-house from published material. The AA.3 archive, for example, is made up of materials from and on Namibia’s most important liberation organisation, SWAPO.


A press documentation collection with press cuttings, brochures and so-called grey literature, such as hand-outs, also forms part of the AA collection. Such press documentations had been started by Carl Schlettwein and his staff encompassing Namibia, South Africa and other countries since the 1970s, and are continued to the present day.


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