The Sudan Library at the University of Khartoum

Historical background

The Sudan Library at the University of Khartoum:


Sudan Library, a part of the University of Khartoum Main Library, is highly specialised libraries concerned with curating and preserving Sudanese ideological heritage and making it available.

Sudan Library was established in 1945 at the time when The Sudan Government Administrative Secretary Sir Douglas Newbold donated his personal library in addition to the Sudan Government Library to the Khartoum University College. That collection consisted of valuable books, maps and a group of preserved documents (Find more about this here).

The Sudan Library collections consists of valuable books, archives and documents on Sudan written by Sudanese or foreign authors, in addition to Sudan government publications such as reports, investigations, documents and booklets. It has sets of periodicals which include newspapers, magazines and leaflets.

The Sudan Library collections also include PhD and Master Theses presented to the U. of K. and Theses presented by Sudanese researchers to overseas universities and institutes.

In the absence of a Sudan national library, the Sudan Library is considered as the Sudan National Library. It is heavily used by users and researchers on various Sudanese issues. However, it needs urgent attention and support to converse its collections as some of these collections are more than 200 years old.


The University of Khartoum library was established in parallel with the Gordon Memorial College in 1902. The College was established in the memory of General Charles Gordon, The Sudan Governor, who was killed in 1880 during the Khartoum Siege by the Mahdi’s Armies after the Khartoum battle. For this issue a committee was formed in Britain to raise funds to launch an establishment in the memory of General Gordon. The decision was to build a primary school at the southern bank of the Blue Nile to enrol students from different parts of Sudan. The school was then established and 40 students were enrolled. A secondary school was then added to the college. The aim of that school was to graduate administration officials in the form of clerks, accountants, translators, teachers and others. It is interesting to note that time, the middle-rank administrative jobs were occupied by Egyptians and Syrians while the junior jobs were for the Sudanese.

In 1945 the College was upgraded to Khartoum University College and linked to London University, it even started to award London University certificate in some sciences such as arts.

Kitchener Memorial School of Medicine and the schools of Law and Veterinary Medicine became part of the College. In 1956, with the Sudan independence, the University of Khartoum Law was issued and the University of Khartoum was declared as the first national university in the country.

Sudan Library as a National Library.

In spite of the fact that Information Section in Cairo documents and collection were transferred to Khartoum at the turn of the last century, which was the nucleus of the Sudan Manuscripts Preservation Office in 1916 which was then developed into the National Documents Home and the establishment of Archaeological and Natural Museums that culminated in the establishment of the National Museum and similar national institutions no national library was founded to preserving the Sudanese ideological heritage.

Despite the several calls and the fund rising to establish a national library since the Graduates Conference call in the 1940s, no progress was achieved. However, some public libraries were established such as Omdurman Central Library in the early 1950’s by the Ministry of information.

The Sudan Library had taken over the role of the national library in preserving the Sudanese ideological heritage in different field produced by Sudanese and non-Sudanese authors and it make that heritage available to researchers and the library users.

Due to the heavy use of the library by researchers, it was moved to a new larger premise at EL Jumhoria Avenue. It is a two stories building consists of a strong room for the archives, documents, books, periodicals and search, reading and theses rooms as well as administrative offices.

The Sudan Library Collections

These are the groups of library materials which have been inherited from the Sudan Government Administrative Secretary Office and Sir Newbold collection. They are well preserved, and the library continued to increase these collections and it include:

  1. Sudan Government  publications
  2. Periodicals, newspapers & magazines
  3. Books, booklets & brochures
  4. Conference documents & proceedings
  5. Newspaper manuscripts
  6. Post-graduate University theses
  7. Microfilms
  8. Photographs
  9. Old documents Photocopies
  10. Maps

The Government publications include:

  1. Calendars & Almanacs: the Sudan Almanac which was issued in English language in 1910 till 1962 which it was then issued in both in English and Arabic languages. It was issued by the Central Information Office and then the Ministry of Culture and Information.
  1. The Annual Financial Report by The Financial Administration, Sudan Government on the Sudan financial conditions, 1902-1955.
  1. The General Governor’s Council Report, which covers the sessions 1- 449, 1910-1937 (in English).
  1. The Consultancy Council for Northern Sudan, (1945-1948), Events & Items, in English and Arabic.
  1. Legislative Board (1948-1952), weekly briefing in Arabic and English.
  1. The First Sudanese Parliament, (1954-1958).
  1. The Sudan Senate: Events, Briefings & Representatives in Arabic and English.
  1. The Central Council (1963-1964), Agenda, Records, Sessions details,
  1. Ministries’ information, briefing of events in Arabic and English.
  1. The First Constituent Assembly, (1965-1968), Events & briefings
  1. The Sudanese Socialist Union, (1972-1974), Documents & Conferences Events.
  1. The Common Councils, 1974, Session events & announcements

The Sudan Administration Reports:

These are monthly reports produced by the Sudan eight provinces Governors. The provinces were Bahr Alghazal, Blue Nile, Darfur, Equatoria, Kassala, Khartoum, Kurdufan, Northern and Upper Nile Provinces. They had been produce regularly since 1940 till the establishment of the National & Rural councils.

The Sudan Government Monthly Report:

This used to be produced monthly, they are from No. 1 in 1929 to No. 337 in 1959. They are in English language until 1958 reports and then in Arabic and English,

The Intelligence Reports:

First collection: 1-111, April 1892-October 1903 (photocopy)

Second collection: 51-365, 1897-1924, issued in London and are in English language.

Sudan Government Gazette:

From the 1st issue in 1899 to 1951 and they are in English language and later it was produced in Arabic language.

Special Lists:

Such as the Sudanese diplomat members list which has been produced since 1957 till 1962 where it was produced in Arabic and English languages.

The Ministries & Governmental Bodies Reports:

This is a group of annual reports which were produced annually by ministries and governmental bodies such as: the Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Communication, Labour Administration, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Construction, Electricity Company, Mechanical Transportation, Sudan Railway, Meteorology, Administration of Post & Telegraphy, Cooperation Administration, Statistics Administration, Ministry of Finance, Bank of Sudan, Agricultural Bank, Industrial Bank, Ministry of Agriculture, Al Jazeera Project, Forestry, Water Supply Corporation, Geology Administration, Survey Administration, Ministry of Irrigation, administration of Knowledge, Ministry of Health, Welcome Laboratories, Administration of Archaeology and Museums, University of Khartoum, Chamber of Commerce, Institute of General Administration and Omdurman Islamic University and others. These documents are in the form of reports, publications, booklets and brochures.

Other collections

  • The Sudan Government Budget since 1905.
  • Trains and steamers timetables.
  • Telephone directory for the capital city and the states.
  • Specialized booklets and brochures.

Periodicals, Newspapers, Magazines, and Brochures:

The library keeps small collections of daily newspapers including: a collection of Al-Saraha Newspaper which was produced by Ustaz Abdallah Rajab, Al-Ayyam, Al-Sahafa, and Al-Ra’y Al-A’am Newspaper.

The library has copies of all the Khartoum University academic journals produced by the different faculties, institutes, centres and students associations since 1952.

Besides this, it also keeps a collection of the cultural magazines issued in Sudan, and that includes collection of Al-Nahda Al-Sudaniya Newspaper (1931-1932), Al-Fajr Collection (1934-1939), Al-Sibyan and Huna Omdurman magazines from their ever first issues.

Sudan Notes and Records:

This journal was produced by the Philosophical Society in 1918 and the Sudan General Governor was head of its executive board.  This journal started with articles and general reports written by the British staff in the government administration on the different Sudanese districts, tribes, social and agricultural activities, as well as the tradition, customs and antiquities. It then it became more academic journal and it then was considered as the basic reference on Sudanese studies. It continued to be issued until the independence of Sudan in 1956. When Sudanization process was completed, the Sudanese editors continued to improve it scientific standard. The journal is now under the umbrella of the University of Khartoum. The current Editor in Chief is Prof. Yusuf Fadl Hassan.

Conferences Documents:

The library compiles a good collection of many scientific and academic conferences documents and proceedings to mention but few the Philosophical Society, Research in Sudan, Food and Society, Education, and many others, which used to be held regularly in the 1950’s of last century.

Other documents include Arkaweet Conferences documents since 1948, the Institute of Future Studies annual conferences since 1967; it is interesting to note the first conference was on industry in Sudan.

The documents of the Institute of African and Asian Studies, biannual conferences on the Sudanese studies in which many researchers and scholars had participated are part of the collection.

Newspaper Manuscripts:

This is a collection on the Sudan news. It was part of the Sudan Government Administrative Secretary Office. They are in different languages but mostly in English.


This is a collection of photographs which were in Sir Douglas’s collection. They include photographs on the local and tribal communities from the different provinces in Sudan. These are also kept in special boxes.

Microfilm Collection:

This compiles collections of rare books and university theses on Sudan in different British universities.

University Theses:

The library keeps the university theses presented by Sudanese students to many overseas universities in particular to British universities in the form of photocopies or microfilms. It also complies all the post-graduate theses presented to the University of Khartoum since 1957. A completed a list of the early university theses was prepared and a copy was deposited at the Sudan Ministers Board secretariat in 1974 on it request and the other copy is available in the library.


The library keeps valuable collections of the maps of Sudan, part of that from Sir Newbold collection, and part from the Sudan Survey Administration.


This is the collection of Sudanese books and they form the main library pillars. The first batch of these books was from the Newbold collection, the Sudan Government Administrative Secretary Office.

Bibliographic Lists:

Most of them are available in English, French and German languages and they include:

  • The bibliography of Prince Ibrahim Hilmi on Egypt and Sudan, 1885, in two volumes.
  • The bibliography of Richard Hull “Sudan from the Oldest Ages until 1937”
  • The bibliography of Asmaa’ Ibrahim Al-Nasri, 1959-1958.
  • The Classified Index for the Sudan Collection, in 1970: This is considered as a reference of national bibliography on Sudan, which is unique in its referring to publication and references available and preserved in Sudan Library with three appendices in 1972, 1974 & 1975.
  • The bibliography of Yusuf Asa’ad Daghar and it is in Arabic language and about Arabic references. He made use of the indexes of Sudan Library in issuing that list when he came to Sudan as an expert with the UNESCO to establish the Educational Documentation Centre in Khartoum in 1968.
  • The series of Sudanese Studies Resources by Qasim Osman Nour.

The First- Fourth Books (1931-1985):

This is an exploration of the articles edited in Sudanese magazines and periodicals with their collections kept at Sudan Library.

Special Books &Documents:

  • Richard Hull’s Dictionary of great Sudanese persons who died before 1948 and included 1900 persons. It was published in London in 1951, followed by a second edition in 1967.
  • The Administrative Secretary’ list of the Sudanese Government officials 1899-1929, which is an important documentary list.
  • Sir Newbold book on Sultan Ali Dinar.
  • Wad Deif Allah Ranks, by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Nour Deif Allah: Ibrahim Siddig version 1930, Mindeel version 1930, and the revised version by Prof. Yusuf Fadl Hassan 1970.
  • Babikir Badri: My Life Story: 3 volumes, Khartoum, Egypt Press, 1961.
  • Al-Dirdeeri Mohammed Osman: My Memoirs (1914-1958), Khartoum 1961.
  • Sudanese Poets: Sa’ad Michael, 1st version, 1923.
  • Sudanese European Journey: Suleiman Mindeel, 1924.
  • Death of a World: Mohammed Ahmed Mahjoob & A. Al-Haleem Mohammed, 1st version, 1946.
  • Journeys of M. Osman Mirghani in West Africa and England, 1927.
  • Sudanese Figures: Yahya Mohammed A. Al-Qadir, 3 volumes, 1952,1956.

Journeys and Wanderers Books:

This is a rare and valuable collection written by wanderers who had visited Sudan since the beginning of the 19th century, they are published in English, German and French languages.

Examples of these are:

  • Amri’s Journeys in Egypt and the Nuba Land, 1886, in French.
  • Britain in Sudan: Yaa’qub Basha Artin, 1911, in English.
  • Samuel Baker: The Nile and the Humran tribe, 1867, in English.
  • Belzoni: A Journey in Egypt and the Nuba Land, 1821, in French.
  • Journeys in Africa: William George Brown, 1799, in English.
  • Journeys in the Nuba Lands: John Lewis Borkhard, 1822, in English.
  • Journey to Meroe: Frederic Kayo, 5 volumes, 1926, in French.
  • Winston Churchill: My African Journey, 1908, in English.
  • Joseph Shari: The Nile and the Desert, 1853, in English.
  • Junker: A Journey to Sudan,196?, in German.
  • Junker: Journeys in Africa, 3 volumes,(1975, in English.
  • John Patrick: Journeys in Central Africa, 2 volumes, 1869.
  • John Waddington & Bernard Hombre: A Visit to Parts of Ethiopia, 1822.
  • Jucia Williams: Life in Sudan, 1884.
  • James Bros: Journeys to Discover the Nile Sources, 6 volumes, 1790.

Archaeological Documents:

This includes the reports of

  • Archaeological missions which have visited Sudan since the building of Aswan Dam in 1905 and the beginning of their archaeological reports on the antiquities in the Nuba land,
  • Dunham’s reports on the areas of Al-Kuru, Nouri, Meroe pyramids, the Royal Burials and the Meroe Jabbanas, in 5 volumes, 1950-1963.
  • Reports of the Egyptian Government, Administration of Survey, 1908-1927 on the Nuba areas, Sudan.
  • Grief’s writings and reports on the Meroetic Period 1911-1932.
  • Hunter, McDam, Kerman, Micloski, Randal, Reisner, and Shinny’s reports.
  • University of Pennsylvania’s mission which issued 8 volumes during the period 1900-1911 about its surveys and discoveries in the Nuba areas.
  • Reports of the Administration of Archaeology and its missions since the publication  of Arcull,  Ancient Khartoum- Al-Shiheinab, the books cover all fields of Sudanese studies in different sciences and arts in English and Arabic languages.

It can be said that the Sudanese collection in the field of scientific, art, and  cultural magazines is considered a distinguished one.

which included early printings that covered a wide range of fields all of which are in foreign languages and the majority is in English.


Jamahiriya Street ( former Babar elgazal boarding hours )



Library of Khartoum University- Khartoum University-

Khartoum P.O.Box 321- Post Code 11115