Archives of the Missionaries of Africa

Archives and Library of the Missionaries of Africa

The Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) was founded in 1868 by the Archbishop of Algiers, Mgr Charles Lavigerie.

From its origins, the Society has set itself the goals of evangelizing the African populations and the presence of Islam in the world. The different areas in which the White Fathers have been active since their foundation are: the establishment and development of new Christian communities, the formation of laity and clergy, social works, the struggle for justice, rural development, dialogue with believers of other religions, especially Islam. Although Africa remains its primary vocation, the Society has also established houses in Europe, North and Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Today, the official languages of the Society are French and English. However, for a long time, French was the official language. As a result, the electronic archives are organized in the French language. Sorry for any inconvenience.

The archives of the Missionaries of Africa are private. However, this site gives access to four databases for the researchers working in good faith. The first and the last (Inventory and Chronicle & reports) are free for consultation. You are welcome to consult them. But you will have to request a temporary password for the consultation of the second and third databases (Chapters and General Councils).

This is the Inventory of the collections in the archives of the Generalate in Rome (at the end of 2015). The Archives of the Missionaries of Africa Society in Rome (I-00165 Roma, via Aurelia 269) consist mainly of correspondence, reports, various documents and publications emanating from their founder, Cardinal Lavigerie, the Society’s General Government, its Provinces and members. The current Archives (during the current Generalate) are managed and preserved by the General Secretariat of the Society.

The Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) was founded in 1868 by the Archbishop of Algiers, Mgr Lavigerie. The first General Chapter (or meeting of the members of the Society or their delegates) took place in 1874, from October 11 to 25. During the early days of the Society, a chapter was convened each year to provide for the organization of the Society. The cycle of holding Chapters became six-yearly from 1894, then ten-yearly and finally six-yearly again from 1974.

This database gathers the minutes of the meetings of the General Council of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) held between 1874 and 1991. The Society of Missionaries of Africa was founded in 1868 by the Archbishop of Algiers, Mgr Lavigerie. From the very beginning, it was governed by a General Council composed of the Superior General and his four assistants. It is the minutes of the meetings of this Council written by the secretary, month after month, year after year, that are gathered here in a database for the first time.

Very early on, the Superiors of the Society issued a publication for the use of missionaries scattered over the continents so that they could be kept informed of the work of their confreres and the development of their works. Thus were published the quarterly Chronicles (1879-1909), which in fact became almost monthly from 1903, given the abundance of material to be published. Large extracts from the diaries kept by the missionaries in their missions or during their travels, but also historical, archaeological, linguistic, or ethnographic notes make these Chronicles a unique source for the study of Africa at that time. Their publication was stopped in June 1909 in favour of the Annual Reports which had been published since 1905.

The rules of copyright (protection of intellectual property) apply to all the available elements, the basic data, the illustrations, their enrichment, the presentation structures, the search engine. No copy can be made and the elements cannot be disassembled. The use of the derived results is subject to copyright laws and practices.

Those wishing to consult the Archives or Library in person are invited to make an appointment using the form below.

Upon arrival, the researcher must present an identity document issued by his/her academic institution, two passport photos and pay ten euros to obtain a membership card (valid for one year). Permission is required to photograph the documents with the researcher’s own digital camera. However, we do restrict photocopying of documents, due to the deleterious effects of heat on the documents.

The archives and library are usually open from Tuesday to Friday, from 9.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 17.30.

In addition, the service is closed for a fortnight around Christmas and New Year. In summer, the archives and library are closed from mid-July to mid-September.

Please use the form below to initiate a conversation with the archivist or librarian. For further communication, you can use the email addresses below.

Contact the Archives or the Library