Ref NoPP MS 36
TitlePapers of Jean Boyd
Date(s) of Creationc 1900-1992
Level of DescriptionCollection
Extent19 boxes and 3 albums
Name of CreatorBoyd; Jean (fl 1955-2014); researcher
Administrative & Biographical HistoryJean Boyd BA MPhil MFR was a Research Associate at the Centre of African Studies, SOAS, University of London. Boyd served as an Education Officer in the Colonial Service in Nigeria (1955-1960) and following Independence worked for the Nigerian Public Service (1960-1984). She spent 25 years in Sokoto, where she became a student of Waziri of Sokoto, Alhaji Dr Junaidu. Boyd was Principal Research Fellow and Head of the Research Department (1980-1984) at the Sokoto State History Bureau, where she was editor of 'Tarihi', the bulletin of the Bureau. She spent 15 years conducting fieldwork on manuscripts in Hausaland. She joined SOAS as a Research Associate in 1990.

Boyd's research has focused on the compilation, translation and contextual annotation of the works of the Nigerian woman poet Nana Asma'u Fodio. Nana Asma'u (1793-1865), was the daughter of Usuman (Shehu) dan Fodio (1754-1817), a Fulani and Muslim, who began a holy war to reform the practice of Islam in northern Nigeria, conquering the Hausa city-states. In 1817 his son, Muhammad Bello (d 1837), established a state centred at Sokoto. Under these two rulers Muslim culture and trade flourished. Sokoto controlled most of northern Nigeria until British forces under Frederick Lugard began to conquer the area, taking Sokoto in 1903. Nana Asma'u Fodio's poems, 65 in number, constitute an important literary legacy of this period. She wrote in Arabic for formal pieces, Hausa for didactic verse, and Fulfulde when addressing her contemporaries within the ruling circle.

Boyd's publications include: 'Uthman Dan Fodio: The Theory and Practice of his Leadership' (1978); 'The Caliph's Sister: Nana Asma'u, 1793-1865, Teacher, Poet and Islamic Leader', (1989); 'Sir Siddiq Abubakar III: Sarkin Musulmi' (1991); with Beverly B Mack, 'One Woman's Jihad: Nana Asma'u, Scholar and Scribe' (2000); and 'Educating Muslim Women: the West African Legacy of Nana Asma'u 1793-1864' (2013).

Career in HMOCS [H.M. Overseas Civil Service] and Public Service in Nigeria:

Woman Education Officer Katsina 1955-57, Sokoto 1957-1959, Headmistress Capital School Sokoto 1969-1980

Member Hausa Language Panel of Nigerian Education Research Council 1982

Principal Research Fellow and Head of Research Department, Sokoto State History Bureau 1980-1984.

Voluntary Work in Nigeria:

Organiser Wooden Legs Fund Sokoto 1968-1984

Friends of Sokoto Hospital Committee 1980-1984

Career after leaving Nigeria:

Research Associate School of Oriental and African Studies, London University 1990-2014

Chairman Royal Commonwealth Society, Cumbria 1989 - 2001.

Chairman of Governors of Beaconside Junior School, Penrith, 1987 - 2003.

Governor Ullswater Community College Penrith, 1988-1991


British Academy Award 1990.

National Endowment for the Humanities Award USA 1993.

Scholar in Residence, Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy, 1995.

African Studies Association 2000 Text Prize Award.

Nigerian National Honour of MFR, (Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) awarded 1 October 2004

Some most recent publications and occasional papers:

2013 - Educating Muslim Women, The West African Legacy of Nana Asma'u, 1793-1864 with Beverly Mack

2009 - Obituary of Sultan Maccido in Africa, Journal of the International African Institute

2006 - 'The Role of Educated Women in the Sokoto Caliphate with special reference to Nana Asma'u 1793-1864’, in The Sokoto Caliphate, History and Legacies 1804-2004, Vol.2 Ed. H Bobboyi and AM Yakubu, International Conference on the Sokoto Caliphate 1804-2004, Bicentenary Celebration, Abuja, Nigeria.

2006 - Sub Saharan Africa – A Sufi Community in the Sahel in the Encyclopaedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, Brill, Leiden.

2004 - 'Anti Islamic Press Bias' with Mirjam Lammers, paper first presented 2003 in Oxford, publication in The Maghreb Review Vol. 29 No.s 1-4..

2004 - '21st century views on Nana Asma'u' TV documentary for the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Corporation, (NMO Hilversum. Netherlands) - Consultancy.

2003 - 'The Life and Legacy of Shehu Uthman dan Fodiyo', with Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Macmillan Education, Oxford.

2002 - 'An Authentic Voice of Pre-Colonial Times, Asma'u of Africa, Her Works and their Translation', Seminar paper, British Centre for Literary Translation, University of East Anglia

2000 - 'Distance learning from Purdah in nineteenth century Northern Nigeria', Seminar paper, SOAS

2000 - 'One Woman's Jihad', with Beverly Mack, Indiana University

Held at:SOAS University of London
Source of AcquisitionThe material was deposited by Jean Boyd in 1991
DescriptionPapers, c 1900-1992, collected by Jean Boyd, relating to northern Nigeria from the late 18th century to the 1990s.

Papers on Nana Asma'u include copies of her manuscript poems (1820-1865) and later papers relating to her work, including translations, 1976-1984. Papers on works by Shehu dan Fodio include copies of his poems on male-female relationships (1789 and undated) and later papers relating to his work, 1975-1981. Papers on works by Asma'u's female relatives and descendants include copies of poems and writings by various authors (c1860-1934 and undated) and later papers relating to the subject, c1950-1990. Other material comprises field notes on the remnants of Asma'u's disciples, the Yan Taru, 1973-1990; papers on the milieu in which Asma'u lived in Gobir, c1900-1984, including Gobir chiefs; papers, including press cuttings, on the situation of women in northern Nigeria in the 1980s, the subjects including Muslims, prostitution, women's organizations, medical matters, and women's education.

Papers, 1903-1992, including articles, reports and press cuttings, on Sokoto relate to geological history, prehistory, palaeontology, archaeology, pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial history, the subjects including the social and economic history of the city of Sokoto, colonial administration, British fears over Mahdism, and local government and economic issues in Sokoto state in modern Nigeria.

Three volumes containing over 500 postcards, many in colour, relating to Nigeria, including images of people, cultural events, various places, and other aspects of Nigerian life [late 20th century].
System of ArrangementThe collection is arranged in the following sections: papers on Asma'u (Ref: A); Shehu (Ref: S); women writers (Ref: WW); Yan Taru field notes (Ref: YT); Gobir (Ref: G); contemporary material (Ref: C); Sokoto papers (Ref: SP); Postcard Collection.
Access StatusTemporarily Closed
Language(s) of MaterialEnglish
Other Finding AidsTwo unpublished handlists (one relating to the Sokoto material) by the depositor, giving detailed descriptions.
Existence & Location of OriginalsThe original literary manuscripts are in the custody of the Waziri of Sokoto, Alhaji Dr Junaidu.
Access Points - SubjectPoetry
African literature
African history
Gender roles
Islamic culture
Colonial countries
Colonial administration
Social history
Economic history
Colonial administration
Access Points - Person, Corporate & Family Names
Name CodePerson, Corporate or Family NameType of Entity
GB/SOASNAF/P755Boyd; Jean (fl 1955-2014); researcherPerson
GB/SOASNAF/P756Nana Asma'u (1793-1865); Nigerian poetPerson
GB/SOASNAF/P757Usuman dan Fodio (1754-1817); Nigerian religious and political leaderPerson
Access Points - Places
Place CodePlace Name
7729885Western Africa
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