Collection UR-SF 69 - Philip Whitaker papers

Identity area

Reference code

UR-SF 69


Philip Whitaker papers


  • 1922-2014 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2.43 linear metres

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Whitaker was born in Poole, Dorset in 1927, to a Lancashire family. His father was an industrial chemist and moved the family to Newport, Gwent during the Second World War. Whitaker went to Trinity College, Dublin, initially to read Physics, but graduated with a degree in history. Following this, he went on to study for a PhD at Manchester University, writing his thesis on the 'Manchester Liberals'.
In the 1950s and into the 1960s, Whitaker spent time studying and lecturing at Makerere University, Uganda's largest university. His research largely concerned Nigerian elections but also examined (and in many cases visiting), the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanganyika (Tanzania) and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Whitaker's time in Uganda coincided with great political change as a result of growing nationalism and Britain's moves towards decolonisation. Nigeria became the autonomous Federation of Nigeria in 1954 and in October 1958, Britain agreed Nigeria would become an independent state on 1st October 1960. Tanganyika became independent in December 1961 and Uganda held its first elections in 1961, becoming independent in October 1962. In Uganda and Nigeria, early elections and politics were played out along tribal and ethnic lines leading to tension and unrest between the various peoples. It is in this context that Whitaker's work must be viewed.
Whitaker left Uganda in 1962, and went with his family to Chicago on a six month lecture tour, also encompassing Minnesota and Canada. Following this, he spent time travelling between Africa and Britain, first returning to Uganda, followed by some time in Manchester then another stay in Uganda. Some time in Zanzibar followed, leaving just before the 1964 uprising in which African revolutionaries overthrew the Arab-minority led government, murdering up to 20,000 Asian civilians.
He took up a post as a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Dundee in 1964, living in Letham, where he later becoming a local councillor. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he would spend winter lecturing in the USA and Canada, and also travelled to Thailand. He moved to Devon upon his partial retirement, before fully retiring in 1983. Whitaker died in 1988.
The Philip Whitaker collection relates largely to his work in central Africa in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Archival history

Material was previously held in Whitaker's home before being deposited.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

PhD material, travel documents and leaflets relating to Whitaker's personal life and general travels, 1951-2014; Correspondence, booklets, typed and written documents relating to Whitaker's professional life at Makerere and Dundee Universities, 1958-1997; Notes and typescripts by Philip Whitaker, c1950-1980; Newspaper articles and cuttings by Whitaker or about African politics from British and Ugandan newspapers, 1954-1960s; Slides, photographs and audio tape, relating to professional and personal lives, 1956-1980s; A print, a jigsaw and maps relating to Africa, mainly Uganda, 1922-1963; Publications and complete articles [to be listed]



System of arrangement

Arranged thematically and then chronologically within series. Where possible arrangement made by his daughter has been maintained

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act (2018), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018) and any other relevant legislation or restrictions. Clinical information is closed for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges may be made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply; please check with the Duty Archivist.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Paper, photographs, slides and film

Finding aids

Descriptive list available in searchroom

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

UR-SF 69

Rules and/or conventions used

Description compiled in line with the following standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) General International Standard Archival Description; International Council on Archives, ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997



Dates of creation revision deletion


  • English



Accession area

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