This is a report on provisional efforts to reorganize a regional archive in Dosso, Niger. The information is provided in hopes that it will be of some use to students of West African history, and will arouse the interest of archivists.
While conducting research in the Dosso region of Niger during 1981 and 1982, I had occasion to work with historical materials in the Prefectural archives of the Department of Dosso. At the time of my arrival in Dosso, the archival documents were stored in more than twenty metal and wooden cabinets and files, and on open shelves. These were located inside a very large room without electric lights, illuminated dimly during the daylight hours by a single small window, permanently open and paneless, high on as eastward facing wall. The disorder of the cabinets inside the room was such at the beginning that it was impossible to penetrate more than a few feet. In some cabinets the contents were more or less uniform, but in most there was considerable disarray, said to date from the late 1970s when a national youth festival was held in Dosso. As a result, it was not uncommon to find mimeographed reports from the 1970s alongside registers of handwritten.entries dating from the early 1900s, and typescripts from the 1930s and 1940s. In others, voracious termites left for years to eat as they liked, had caused considerable destruction, consuming the documents, and in the case of wooden construction, the cabinets and shelves that contained them.