Richards, Charles Granston

Reference code(s): GB 0102 PP MS 12
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Richards, Charles Granston
Date(s) of contents: Created 1935-1995
Level of description: Super-collection
Extent and medium: 17 boxes


Name of creator(s): Richards, Charles Granston

Administrative/Biographical history: Charles Granston Richards was born in 1908. He went to Kenya in 1935 as a missionary for the Church Missionary Society, with special responsibility for the encouragement of literacy and literature among East Africans. Working through the CMS Bookshop in Nairobi, he became a publisher - for example, under the imprint of the Highway Press. In 1948, following an appraisal by Elspeth Huxley, the East African Governor's Conference decided to set up an East African Literature Bureau (EALB). Charles Richards wrote the report which led to its establishment and became its first Director. The EALB published a variety of texts, in English and in the major African languages - some of which are included in this collection. Richards remained Director of the EALB for fifteen years.

In 1963 Dr. Richards moved to the Oxford University Press to build up its publishing in East Africa, but in 1964 the OUP released him to work part-time in setting up what became the Christian Literature Fund (CLF) of the World Council of Churches. Richards was full-time Director of the CLF from 1965-1970, and of its successor, the Agency for Christian Literature Development (ACLD) from 1970-1974. The offices of the CLF were in Lausanne, but Richards was constantly 'in the field', as his Tour reports indicate. In December 1974 Dr. Richards retired as Director of the ACLD, which was then replaced by the Print Media Development Unit (PMDU) of the new World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), under the Acting Director, Reverend A. D. Manuel. Richards maintained an active association with the PMDU, and with other agencies concerned with literature and literacy. He served on the British Committee on Literacy, conducted an evaluation of the South African Bureau of Literacy, investigated the progress of the East African Venture, which he had helped to start while at the ACLD, and continued to give talks on his past work.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated in 1991, 1992 and 1993.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1935-1995, of Charles Granston Richards, comprising articles, reports, books, pamphlets and correspondence reflecting his work and interests. The papers cover his work with the Church Missionary Society in Kenya, East African Literary Bureau, Oxford University Press, Christian Literature Fund and Agency for Christian Literature Development in addition to his retirement years.

System of arrangement: The arrangement of these papers is broadly chronological, following the main stages of Dr. Richards' career: personal papers (1939-1978); with the Missionary Society in Kenya (1935-1948); director of the East African Literature Bureau (1948-1963); with the Oxford University Press in Africa (1964-1965); Director of the Christian Literature Fund (1965-1970); Director of the Agency for Christian Literature Development (1970-1974); in retirement (1975-); miscellaneous.

Within the three principal agencies of which Dr. Richards was Director, the East African Literature Bureau, Christian Literature Fund and the Agency for Christian Literature, a common pattern of arrangement has been followed:
First - documents relating to the setting up of the agency
Second - official papers of the agency (Minutes, Reports)
Third - documents illustrating the work of the agency
Fourth - articles and talks publicising the work of the agency
Fifth - photographs.

In addition, the collection contains a large number of printed books and pamphlets, and some of these have been placed outside the chronological arrangement. Books and pamphlets collected by Dr. Richards for use in his work have been split off from the work itself, and are listed separately (PP MS 12/LIB/1-74, pp.17-20 of the handlist). Other printed works, for example articles by Richards or sponsored by him, are listed in the appropriate chronological section.


Language: Mainly English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist.



Date(s) of descriptions: 15 May 2000

African literature
Ancient religions
Basic study subjects
Communication personnel
Educational missionaries
Educational missionary work
Educational programmes
Lay missionaries
Literacy programmes
Missionary work
National literatures
Publishing industry
Religious activities
Religious doctrines
Religious groups
Religious institutions
Religious movements
Religious texts
Visual materials

Personal names
Richards | Charles Granston | b 1908 | missionary and publisher

Corporate names
British Committee on Literacy
Church Missionary Society
Conference of East African Governors
East African Literature Bureau
East African Venture
Highway Press
Oxford University Press
South African Bureau of Literacy
World Association for Christian Communication | Print Media Development Unit x Print Media Development Unit
World Council of Churches | Agency for Christian Literature Development x Agency for Christian Literature Development
World Council of Churches | Christian Literature Fund x Christian Literature Fund

East Africa
South Africa
Southern Africa