Building Early Accra: Preserving Historical Building Permits in Ghana

Accra was the first settlement in Ghana to keep written records. The archives of the city hold important documents detailing urban development and cities in Africa, histories of families in Accra in the context of their spatial environments, and histories of Africans building in Africa. However, the material is in urgent need of preservation.

The records held in Accra pre-date the formation of Ghana as an independent nation-state by six decades. The archives include administrative materials, logbooks, building permit applications presented to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (previously the Accra Town Council) from 1894 to the 1970s. They are the earliest colonial records of indigenous urban construction and contact with city planning authorities in the then Gold Coast, but they had never been systematically collected or organised.

The material is currently located in an unused room in a costal sub-metropolitan office of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, where it is at continuous risk from pests and of being damaged by sea water. There is no funding available for preservation of the material.

The project created over 34,000 images of archival material dating from 1904 to 1947. The project has trained staff of the AMA, students, and young Ghanaian researchers on archiving and digitisation practices. Moreover, members of the project team participated in public-facing events where participants and audiences were taught how to collect and digitise family and personal archives using tools available to them such as smartphones. The project had great resonance, being featured in both national and international platforms.

Project Details

Location: Ghana, Western Africa, Africa Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): University of Oxford Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £38,380 Commencement Date: 01/2020 Project Status: Completed
Project owner? Update this project

Related Projects

EAP1402 Pub003

19th-century documents from the Peruvian asylum el Manicomio del Cercado

The Victor Larco Herrera Hospital in the centre of Lima, Peru, was closed in 1917. Its archives, dating back to 1859, consist of medical documentation as well as administrativ…

Explore project
EAP1306 Silk Museum

The Caucasian Silk Circle: Digitising Photo Collection of the State Silk Museum in Georgia

The State Silk Museum of Georgia holds the only documentary evidence of the practice of sericulture in the 19th century. Taken during expeditions of the Caucasian Sericulture …

Explore project
EAP1294 team

Safeguarding for Posterity Two Private Collections of Palm-Leaf Manuscripts from the Tamil Country

The Kalliṭaikuṟicci and Villiyampākkam collections are palm-leaf collections held privately in India. The collections are essential to study the prevalent reading practices in…

Explore project