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RATTRAY, Robert Sutherland (1881-1938)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1446 MS 101-109 and 445
Held at: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
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Full title: RATTRAY, Robert Sutherland (1881-1938)
Date(s): [1919-1930]
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 10 mss
Name of creator(s): Rattray | Robert Sutherland | 1881-1938 | colonial official and ethnographer


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born, 1881; educated: Stirling high school; joined the Imperial Yeomanry at the outbreak of the South African War, 1899; joined Central African trading company, the African Lakes Corporation, 1902; posted Blantyre, Nyasaland and later Lilongwe; joined customs service of the West African colony of the Gold Coast, 1906; studied anthropology at Exeter College, Oxford: diploma, 1914, BSc, 1925, and DSc, 1929; assistant district commissioner in Ejura, in the northern region of Asante, 1913; captain in the Gold Coast regiment, 1914; saw action during the invasion of the German colony of Togoland; called to the bar in 1918; assistant colonial secretary and clerk to the legislative assembly, Accra, 1919; special commissioner and the first 'government anthropologist', Asante, 1920; retired from the colonial service, 1928; died, 1938.

Folklore, Stories and Songs in Chinyanja (1907)
Hausa Folklore
Elementary Mole Grammar (1918)
Ashanti Proverbs (1916)
Ashanti (1923)
Religion and Art in Ashanti (1927)
Ashanti Law and Constitution (1929)
Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales (1930)
Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland (1932)


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Robert Sutherland Rattray, [1919-1930] including:

MS 101 and 102
19 anthropological papers by various authors, [1919-25].

MS 103
Manuscript transliteration of Hausa laws [from Arabic to Hausa] in a number of hands; with an introduction and preface by Rattray.

MS 104
Three notebooks containing manuscript notes on Nankani customs, [1928-1929].

MS 105
Six notebooks containing notes on language, grammar and vocabulary of a number of languages including Mole and Isal, 1928-1929.

MS 106
25 note-blocks containing notes on subjects including genealogy; prohibited marriages; Ashanti weights; Abrammuo; Kobina Winak, Headman; Baya ceremony; drum talking cylinders; weaving Ntama-nweno; Obonus ceremony at Tekimas; Nsa, cloth use at funerals; Ashanti law, constitution, history and folklore; Maine's Ancient Law; enstoolment; training of a priest; Adamfo in Kuman and the history and constitution of Kwawu.

MS 107
Notebooks containing field notes and genealogies on Ashanti law and constitution, 1925.

MS 108
Note blocks containing field notes, 1927, on subjects including Kwawu; Nkyinnyewa or Nkwawie and genealogy notes of Osai Bonsu mamid.

MS 109
Note blocks containing field notes, 1928-1930, on subjects including: vocabularies of a number of African languages; Nankani customs and folk tales; the Dagaba classification-system; Isala modern constitution claims; Isala and Dagaba tribes; kobi classification system, inheritance and clans; Kusassi custom; Mamprum constitution; Dagomba constitution and history of Gwalo.

MS 445
Photographs and illustrations taken in Ashanti and the Northern Territories, Ghana, with letters and record books.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English and a number of African languages including Mole and Isal.

System of arrangement:

As outlined in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Appointments are necessary for all visits; please contact the archivist by email to arrange; a fee of 10 is payable by all visitors except Fellows and Members; membership details can be found on the RAI web site; access to material referring to the most recent thirty years is restricted; some material is very fragile and may not be available for view; a few items are of restricted or forbidden access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies and scans for personal research only may be arranged at the discretion of the archivist; charges apply; in all cases forms governing use of copies must be signed; use of digital cameras is not allowed.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue available in the RAI reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry compiled by Sarah Drewery.
Sources: Oxford DNB.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Sep 2008

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