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This collection, amassed by the brilliant field anthropologist William Bascom, dates from 1841 to 1973 and includes 470 titles. The Yoruba people of Nigeria are known for their government, art, religion and long cultural traditions. In this extraordinary library one finds the essence of Yoruba civilization - works on the complex Yoruba language, novels, literary criticism, poetry, hymnals, works on religion and Biblical and devotional works. Print copies of most of the works in this collection are not available today, even in Nigeria, thus making this microfiche collection one of the richest sources for Yoruba research now in existence.
The collection includes 16 titles from the 19th century. For the period 1900-1918, there is approximately one title per year. Each subsequent decade reflects an increasing number of titles, peaking in the 1940's. By the 1970s, Bascom had essentially ceased collecting, therefore, only 3 volumes represent that decade.
The Yoruba language, a tonal language, is a dominant member of the Kwa subgroup of the Niger-Congo group of languages. It is exceedingly complex, with at least 57 different tense forms. Woks on the language itself number approximately 110 titles including alphabets, books on numerals, grammars, dictionaries, phrase books and 64 readers. The collection also feature four biographies in Yoruba, including one on Bishop Samuel Crowther, who produced the first written Yoruba, the first dictionary and the first Yoruba translation of the Bible.
The collection also includes novels, literary criticism, two volumes of translation from Shakespeare, poetry, 23 hymnals, 36 works on religion, 40 works of devotional literature and 22 titles that focus on the Bible. More than 30 volumes are folkloric in nature, including riddles, fables, proverbs and nursery rhymes. There are also histories of Nigerian towns, as well as studies on health, travel, marriage and agriculture.
For more information about The Yoruba Collection, please click here.