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Blue Books for Colonial British Africa in the Penn Libraries: Home

What is a Blue Book?

Blue Books are a mainstay for research on the British colonies in Africa. Blue Books are annual reports of the British colonies. Colonial regulations issued in 1843 state:

The Annual Blue Book containing accounts of the Civil Establishment, of the Colonial Revenue and Expenditure and of various statistical particulars, etc. ... must be filled up with the greatest possible accuracy and the Statistical Tables must be full and complete.

It has been observed that the Annual Report series for the colonies was developed as a readable companion to the Blue Books.

The Penn Libraries have a good collection of Blue Books, but our holdings are scattered among print copies in several locations and in microform. The Center for Research Libraries has digitized runs of Blue Books, and these are also available to Penn readers; and some Blue Book issues are available online through HathiTrust. This guide will explain what a Blue Book is and will direct you to our copies of Blue Books.

If you cannot find your Blue Books, if you are confused about our holdings and their locations, that's okay! Just ASK FOR HELP!

Some samples pages from Blue book for the colony of Mauritius 1897 (from HathiTrust):


African colonial Blue Book holdings in the Penn Libraries

This inventory gives locations for our colonial African Blue Books with their locations. We own overlapping print and microform runs, so the inventory tries to show the runs rather than the singleton volumes.


Country or year Resource


1828-1945 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4540

Ghana = Gold Coast

1901-1916, 1918-1923/1924, 1925/1926, 1929/1930-1938 Online via Center for Research Libraries
1846-1891 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4547
1892-1937 LIBRA: 316.67 .G567


East Africa Protectorate

1901/1902-1914/1915 Online via Center for Research Libraries
1901-1946 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4542

Lesotho = Basutoland

1926-1966 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4561


1897-1907 Online via HathiTrust
1891-1919, 1925-27, 1929 Van Pelt stacks: J758 .R2

Malawi = Nyasaland

1918/1919 Online via HathiTrust
1904-1929 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4544
1929-1930 Van Pelt stacks: HA4707 .A552


Lagos Colony and Protectorate

1862-1898 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4548
1899-1905 LIBRA: 316.69 .L136

Niger Coast (Oil Rivers) Protectorate

1896/1897-1898/1899 Online via Center for Research Libraries
1896-1900 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4548

Protectorate of Southern Nigeria

1899-1913 Online via Center for Research Libraries
1900-1905 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4548
1906-1911 LIBRA: 316.69 .N564
1912-1913 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4548

Protectorate of Northern Nigeria

1900-1913 Online via Center for Research Libraries
1900-1913 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4548
1908 Online via HathiTrust  


1914-1937 LIBRA: 316.69 .N563 and LIBRA: 316.69 N564.2
1938-1945 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4548

Sierra Leone

1846-1893 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4538
1894-1895 LIBRA: 316.64 .Si13
1896-1943 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4538

South Africa = Cape of Good Hope

1896-1897, 1899-1908 Van Pelt stacks: HA1982

Tanzania = Tanganyika & Zanzibar


1921-1938, 1945-1948 Online via Center for Research Libraries
1921-1938, 1945-1948 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4543


1913-1947 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4546
1916-1919 Online via HathiTrust


1892-1899 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4545
1901-1945 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4541
1907/1908 Online via HathiTrust
1919-1922 Online via HathiTrust

Zambia = Northern Rhodesia

1924-1948 Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 4563

Librarian & Coordinator of Social Sciences Collections

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Lauris Olson
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