The library of the School of Oriental and African Studies holds the largest public collection of Swahili manuscripts in Britain. The collection includes more than 250 manuscripts dating from the 1790s to the 1970s. The library also holds microfilms of the manuscripts that were deposited by JWT Allen at the University of Dar es Salaam.Many manuscripts were scribed in Arabic script, and many contain poetry composed in northern Swahili dialects. Letters, stories, notes, essays on history and culture and drafts of published and unpublished books number among the collection's offerings.The Swahili Manuscripts Project aims to create a comprehensive catalogue of the SOAS manuscripts. Some of the manuscripts can be viewed online and you can listen to recitations.
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AMMS is a bi-lingual database that was developed at the University of Illinois in the late 1980s to describe a collection of Arabic and Ajami manuscripts in southern Mauritania (Boutilimit). It subsequently has been used to catalogue seven other West African collections including the manuscript libraries at the Institut Mauritanien de Recherche Scientifique, Northwestern University, and the Centre Ahmad Baba in Timbuktu. Currently (during 2008-09) print catalogues from West Africa published by al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation are being added to it.
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