The African 78rpm collection contains over 1,200 records from the 1920s to the 1960s, primarily from what today are the nations of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, and Madagascar. Providing a rare glimpse into the popular music landscape of the time, the collection was established with the help of Paris-based DJ Greg de Villanova, with additional records from the collections of Don Hill, Rainer Lotz, and Benno Häupl. Besides releases on such European-based labels His Master’s Voice, Decca, and Parlophon, there are many more on African labels, namely: Gallotone, Trek, Troubadour, and Trutone from South Africa; CMS, AGS, ASL, and Jambo from Kenya; Tom Tom from Uganda; and Opika, Ngoma, and CEFA from the DRC.

Represented in the collection are influential songwriters and performers such as Rupert Bopape, Spokes Mashiyane, Dorothy Masuka, Alick Nkhata, Miriam Makeba, Strike Vilakazi, E.T. Mensah, Joss Aikins, Dan Acquaye, Joseph Kabasele, Franco Luambo Makiadi, Docteur Nico, Tino Baroza, Jean Serge Essous, Manu Dibango, and Lucie Eyenga. Notable ensembles include the Dark City Sisters, the Manhattan Brothers, the Tempos, the Black Beats, the Stargazers Dance Band, African Jazz, O.K. Jazz, and Orchestre Bantou Jazz. 

Other highlights in this collection include:

  • early recordings of West African performers released on the German Artiphon and Parlophon labels in the late 1920s and 1930s
  • recordings made by Hugh Tracey across Southern Africa for his African Music Research unit and released on the Gallotone label
  • ethnographic recordings made for the Serviços Culturais of the mining company Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang)
  • ethnographic recordings made throughout French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa by various ethnomusicologists, including Gilbert Rouget, released on Africa Vox and Pathé

A complete and up-to-date list of the recordings in the collection can be found by searching UCSB Library Search. Digital copies can be requested through a Special Collections Research Account.

For more information on the collection or assistance in using the materials, please contact Special Collections staff at