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Records and Nation Archives Division

The National Archives of Tanzania Fifty Years After Wright’s Report on the Government Records and Public Archives of Tanganyika

Charles Magaya and James Lowry
On 2nd November, 1962, Miss Marcia Wright submitted her Report on the
Government Records and Public Archives of Tanganyika with Recommendations for a
National Archives, following her survey of the records and archives of the
Tanganyika Government, which she undertook between July and October, 1962. Her
survey was the first substantial step taken by the newly independent government
towards the organisation of public records. We intend to compare Wright’s main
findings and recommendations (omitting the recommendations Wright made about
particular classes and series of records and the specific arrangements she suggested
for the procurement of equipment, etc.) with the present situation of the Records and
Archives Management Division, President’s Office – Public Service Management
(the national archives of Tanzania) to illustrate the development of the National
Archives of Tanganyika/Tanzania in the last fifty years. Finally, we will look at the
new challenges facing the National Archives in the digital environment.


The need to preserve records in Tanzania can be traced back to 1920, when one British officer discovered, hidden among a mass of German rat and ant eaten documents, secret instructions issued in 1916 by the last German Governor, that the most valuable Government files should be buried in Tabora and other places, so as to prevent them to falling into the hands of the British.

By burying the records the Germans thought that, after winning the war, they could recover the records, which served as evidence of the legal rights of German settlers. The discovery of the buried records by the British victors led to negotiations between the British administration in Tanganyika and the German Government (which had formerly claimed that all records were destroyed).


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Records and National Archives Division
President’s Office, Public Service Management
Vijibweni Street – Off Magore Road
Dar Es Salaam,Tanzania
PO Box 2006
Tel: 255 22 215 2875
Fax: 255 22 215 1279

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