Modern history


The researcher who wants the most comprehensive bibliography of modern scholarship on the colonial Congo should turn to Bibliographie historique du Zaire à l'époque coloniale (1880–1960): travaux publiés en 1960–1996 (Louvain, Belgium: Enquêtes et Documents d'Histoire Africaine, 1996), edited by Jean-Luc Vellut. What follows is a list of the works I used.

The tyranny of alphabetical order cannot do justice to the help that other people's books gave me in writing this one. So let me first make a particularly low bow to those volumes on which I drew the most.

Primary sources penned by some of the central characters in this story include the works listed here by King Affonso I, Roger Casement, Joseph Conrad, William Sheppard, Henry Morton Stanley, George Washington Williams, and E. D. Morel. There is no comprehensive edition of King Leopold II's voluminous, revealing output of letters and memoranda, but hundreds of them do appear in Édouard Van der Smissen's Léopold II et Beernaert: d'après leur correspondance inédite de 1884 à 1894. Some are also reprinted in François Bontinck's Aux Origines de l'État Indépendant du Congo, an important collection of letters and documents on the early days. Robert Benedetto's new anthology has made a large collection of source material on the Presbyterian missionaries' work for human rights easily available for the first time.

Most of the major European and American figures—but none of the African ones—have had biographies written of them. I have drawn particularly on those of Stanley by John Bierman and Frank McLynn, of Casement by Brian Inglis and B. L. Reid, and of the studies (although none of them is the full-scale biography the man deserves) of E. D. Morel by Catherine Cline, A.J.P. Taylor, F Seymour Cocks, and W'S. Adams. John Hope Franklin's biography of George Washington Williams rescued Williams from obscurity and provided most of my source material for Chapter 8. Of the various biographies of Leopold, those by Barbara Emerson and Neal Ascherson were essential; most of the material about life in the king's household comes from the memoirs of his aides, Gustave Stinglhamber and Baron Carton de Wiart.

Thomas Pakenham's The Scramble for Africa is a comprehensive diplomatic overview of that period whose novelist's-eye array of detail I have gratefully stolen from. In the Prologue, I was also inspired by The River Congo by Peter Forbath, one of the few writers to recognize the drama and tragedy of the life of King Affonso I. A number of scholarly books written in recent decades form a mine of information. Among them, I have found especially helpful the studies by Ruth Slade, Robert Harms, Stanley Shaloff, S.J.S. Cookey, David Lagergren, and the many works by Jean Stengers. Jacques Willequet's Le Congo Belge et la Weltpolitik (1894–1914) has all the delicious material about Leopold's press bribery operation.

Finally, several Belgians have recently provided a refreshing change to the decades of sugar-coated Congo history that has usually been their country's norm. Du Sang sur les Lianes, by Daniel Vangroenweghe, is passionate and highly useful. Guy De Boeck's study of the Force Publique mutinies points out how these are the precursors of anticolonial guerrilla wars of more than half a century later. And the French-language edition of Jules Marchal's four-volume history of the Congo, from 1876 to 1910, is, for this crucial period, the best scholarly overview by far, encyclopedic in scope. In countless places in this volume, I am in his debt, as will be anyone who writes about this era for years to come.


Adams, W.S. Edwardian Portraits. London: Secker & Warburg, 1957.

Affonso I. Correspondance de Dom Afonso, roi du Congo 1506–1543. Eds. Louis Jadin and Mireille Decorato. Brussels: Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer, 1974.

Annexe aux Annales du Musée du Congo, Ethnographie et Anthropologie, Série IV—Fascicule I. L'État Indépendant du Congo—Documents sur le pays et ses habitants. Brussels: 1903.

Anstey, Roger.

1. Britain and the Congo in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962.

2. King Leopold's Legacy: The Congo Under Belgian Rule 1908–1960. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.

3. "The Congo Rubber Atrocities—A Case Study." African Historical Studies IV, no. 1 (1971): pp. 59–76.

Arnold, Nicolas, et al. A nos héros coloniaux morts pour la civilisation 1876–1908. Brussels: La Ligue du Souvenir Congolais, 1931.

Aronson, Theo. Defiant Dynasty: The Coburgs of Belgium. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968.

Ascherson, Neal. The King Incorporated: Leopold II in the Age of Trusts. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1963.

Axelson, Sigbert. Culture Confrontation in the Lower Congo: From the Old Congo Kingdom to the Congo Independent State with Special Reference to the Swedish Missionaries in the 1880s and 1890s. Falköping, Sweden: Gummessons, 1970.

Balandier, Georges. Daily Life in the Kingdom of the Kongo from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Trans. Helen Weaver. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1968.

Bauer, Ludwig. Leopold the Unloved:King of the Belgians and of Wealth. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1935.

Bawele, Mumbanza Mwa. "Afro-European Relations in the Western Congo Basin c. 1884–1885." In Förster, Mommsen, and Robinson, below.

Baylen, Joseph O. "Senator John Tyler Morgan, E. D. Morel, and the Congo Reform Association." The Alabama Review (April 1962): pp. 117–132.

Bederman, Sanford H. "The 1876 Brussels Geographical Conference and the Charade of European Cooperation in African Exploration." Terrae Incognitae 21 (1989): pp. 63–73.

Benedetto, Robert, ed. Presbyterian Reformers in Central Africa: A Documentary Account of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission and the Human Rights Struggle in the Congo, 1890–1918. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996.

Bierman, John. Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

Biographie Coloniale Belge, vols. I—VI (volume VI: Biographie Belge d'Outre-Mer). Brussels: Académie Royale des Sciences Coloniales/Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer, 1948–1968.

Birmingham, David, and Phyllis M. Martin, eds. History of Central Africa, vol. 2. New York: Longman, 1983.

Boahen, A. Adu, ed. General History of Africa, vol. VII. Paris: UNESCO, 1985.

Bobb, F. Scott. Historical Dictionary of Zaire. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.

Boelaert, E. "Ntange." Aequatoria XV, no. 2: pp. 58–62; and no. 3: pp. 96–100. Coquilhatville, Belgian Congo: 1952.

Bontinck, François. Aux Origines de l'État Indépendant du Congo. Documents tirés d'Archives Américaines. Publications de l'Université Lovanium de Léopoldville. Louvain, Belgium: Éditions Nauwelaerts, 1966.

Breman, Jan.

1. "Primitive Racism in a Colonial Setting." In Imperial Monkey Business: Racial Supremacy in Social Darwinist Theory and Colonial Practice. Ed. Jan Breman. Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1990.

2. "The Civilization of Racism: Colonial and Postcolonial Development Policies." In above volume.

Bricusse, Georges. Les carnets de campagne de Georges Bricusse (6 février 1894–18 juillet 1896). Ed. Pierre Salmon. Brussels: Édition CEMUBAC, 1966.

Buell, Raymond Leslie. The Native Problem in Africa. New York: Macmillan, 1928.

Canisius, Edgar. A Campaign Amongst Cannibals. London: R. A. Everett & Co., 1903. (Published in one volume with Captain Guy Burrows, The Curse of Central Africa, under the latter title).

Carton de Wiart, Baron E. Leopold II: Souvenirs des dernières années 1901–1909. Brussels: Les Ouvres Goemaere, 1944.

Casement, Roger.

1. The Crime Against Europe: The Writings and Poetry of Roger Casement. Ed. Herbert O. Mackey. Dublin: C. J. Fallon, 1958.

2. "The 1903 Diary." In Singleton-Gates and Girodias, below.

3. "The Congo Report." In Singleton-Gates and Girodias, below.

4. "The 1910 Diary." In Singleton-Gates and Girodias, below.

5. Le Rapport Casement (annotated edition). Eds. Daniel Vangroenweghe and Jean-Luc Vellut. Louvain, Belgium: Université Catholique de Louvain, 1985.

Chanaiwa, D. "African Initiatives and Resistance in Southern Africa." In Boahen, above.

Cline, Catherine Ann. E. D. Morel 1873–1924: The Strategies of Protest. Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1980.

Cocks, F. Seymour. E. D. Morel: the Man and His Work. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1920.

Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur.

1. The Crime of the Congo. New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1909.

2. Letters to the Press. Eds. John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green. London: Secker & Warburg, 1986.

Le Congo Belge en Images. Brussels: J. Lebègue & Cie., 1914.

Congo Reform Association. Evidence Laid Before the Congo Commission of Inquiry at Bwembu, Bolobo, Lulanga, Baringa, Bongandanga, Ikau, Bonginda, and Monsembe. Liverpool: 1905.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text; Backgrounds and Sources; Criticism. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. Norton Critical Edition, 3d ed. New York: W W. Norton & Co, 1988.

Conrad, Joseph, and Ford M. Hueffer [Ford Madox Ford]. The Inheritors. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1914.

Cookey, S.J.S. Britain and the Congo Question: 1885–1913. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1968.

Coquéry-Vidrovitch, Catherine.

1. Le Congo au temps des grandes compagnies concessionnaires 1898–1930. Paris: Mouton, 1972.

2. "The Colonial Economy of the Former French, Belgian and Portuguese Zones 1914–35." In Boahen, above.

Cornet, René J. La Bataille du Rail. Brussels: Éditions L. Cuypers, 1958.

Cornevin, Robert.

1. "The Germans in Africa before 1918." In Gann and Duignan 1, below, vol. 1.

2. Histoire du Zaïre: des Origines à nos Jours. 4th edition. Paris: Académie des Sciences d'Outre-Mer, 1989.

Courouble, Léopold. En Plein Soleil: Les Maisons du Juge—Le Voyage à Bankana. Brussels: La Renaissance du Livre, 1930.

Cuvelier, Jean. L'Ancien royaume de Congo: Fondation, découverte, première évangélisation de l'ancien Royaume de Congo. Règne du Grand Roi Affonso Mvemba Nzinga (f 1541). Bruges, Belgium: Desclée de Brouwer, 1946.

Davidson, Basil.

1. The African Awakening. London: Jonathan Cape, 1955.

2. The African Slave Trade. Revised and expanded edition. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1980.

3. African Civilization Revisited: From Antiquity to Modern Times. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1991.

4. Africa in History: Themes and Outlines. Revised and expanded edition. New York: Collier Books, 1991.

Daye, Pierre. Léopold II. Paris: Arthème Fayard et Cie., 1934.

De Boeck, Guy. Baoni: Les Révoltes de la Force Publique sous Léopold II, Congo 1895–1908. Brussels: Les Éditions EPO, 1987.

Debrunner, Hans Werner. Presence and Prestige: Africans in Europe. A History of Africans in Europe before 1918. Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1979.

De Lichtervelde, Comte Louis. Léopold of the Belgians. New York: Century Co., 1929.

Depelchin, Jacques. From the Congo Free State to Zaire: How Belgium Privatized the Economy. A History of Belgian Stock Companies in Congo-Zaire from 1885 to 1974. Trans. Ayi Kwei Armah. Dakar, Senegal: Codesria, 1992.

De Premorel, Raoul. Kassai: The Story of Raoul de Premorel, African Trader. Ed. Reginald Ray Stuart. Stockton, CA: Pacific Center for Western Historical Studies, 1975.

De Vaughan, Baroness, with Paul Faure. A Commoner Married a King. New York: Ives Washburn, 1937.

Donny, Albert, et al. Manuel du voyageur et du résident au Congo. 5 vols. Brussels: Hayez, 1897–1901.

Duignan, Peter. "The USA, the Berlin Conference, and its Aftermath 1884–1885." In Förster, Mommsen, and Robinson, below.

Dumont, Georges-Henri. Léopold II. Paris: Fayard, 1990.

Emerson, Barbara. Leopold II of the Belgians: King of Colonialism. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979.

Fabian, Johannes. Remembering the Present: Painting and Popular History in Zaire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Fetter, Bruce.

1. Colonial Rule and Regional Imbalance in Central Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983.

2. (ed.) Demography from Scanty Evidence: Central Africa in the Colonial Era. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1990.

Flament, F., et al. La Force Publique de sa naissance à 1914: Participation des militaires à l'histoire des premières années du Congo. Brussels: Institut Royal Colonial Belge, 1952.

Forbath, Peter. The River Congo: The Discovery, Exploration and Exploitation of the World's Most Dramatic River. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.

Förster, Stig, Wolfgang J. Mommsen, and Ronald Robinson. Bismarck, Europe, and Africa: The Berlin Africa Conference 1884–1885 and the Onset of Partition. London: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Foussemagne, H. de Reinach. Charlotte de Belgique: Impératrice du Mexique. Paris: Plon-Nourrit et Cie., 1925.

Franklin, John Hope. George Washington Williams: A Biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Freddy, G. Léopold II intime. Paris: Félix Juven, 1905.

Fry, Joseph A.

1. Henry'S. Sanford: Diplomacy and Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1982.

2. John Tyler Morgan and the Search for Southern Autonomy. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992.

Furley, Oliver. "The Humanitarian Impact." In Britain Pre-eminent: Studies of British World Influence in the Nineteenth Century, ed. C. J. Bartlett. London: Macmillan, 1969.

Gann, L. H., and Peter Duignan.

1. (eds.) Colonialism in Africa 1870–1960. 5 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

2. The Rulers of Belgian Africa 1884–1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979.

Gérard, Jo. Le Pharaon des Belges: Léopold II. Brussels: Éditions J. M. Collet, 1984.

Gifford, Prosser, and William Roger Louis, eds.

1. Britain and Germany in Africa: Imperial Rivalry and Colonial Rule. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

2. France and Britain in Africa: Imperial Rivalry and Colonial Rule. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971.

Glave, E. J. "Cruelty in the Congo Free State." The Century Magazine (Sept. 1897): pp. 699–715.

Goedleven, Edgard. The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. Brussels: Lannoo/Duculot/Inbel, 1989.

Grand-Carteret, John. Popold II, Roi des Belges et des Belles: Devant l'Objectif Caricatural. Paris: Louis-Michaud, 1908.

Gründer, Horst. "Christian Missionary Activities in Africa in the Age of Imperialism and the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885." In Förster, Mommsen, and Robinson, above.

Halen, Pierre, and János Riesz, eds. Images de l'Afrique et du Congo/Zaïre dans les lettres françaises de Belgique et alentour: Actes du colloque international de Louvain-la-Neuve (4–6 février 1993). Brussels: Éditions du Trottoir, 1993.

Hall, Richard. Stanley: An Adventurer Explored. London: Collins, 1974.

Harlan, Louis R.

1. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee 1901–1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

2. Booker T. Washington in Perspective: Essays of Louis R. Harlan, ed. Raymond W. Smock. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988.

Harms, Robert.

1. "The End of Red Rubber: A Reassessment." Journal of African History XVI, no. 1 (1975): pp. 73–88.

2. River of Wealth, River of Sorrow: The Central Zaire Basin in the Era of the Slave and Ivory Trade, 1500–1891. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1981.

3. "The World ABIR Made: The Maringa-Lopori Basin, 1885–1903." African Economic History 22 (1983): pp. 125–39.

Haveaux, G. L. La Tradition Historique des Bapende Orientaux. Brussels: Institut Royal Colonial Belge, 1954.

Hawkins, Hunt.

1. "Mark Twain's Involvement with the Congo Reform Movement: 'A Fury of Generous Indignation'." The New England Quarterly (June 1978): pp. 147–175.

2. "Joseph Conrad, Roger Casement and the Congo Reform Movement." Journal of Modern Literature 9, no. 1 (1981–82): pp. 65–80.

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Hilton, Anne. The Kingdom of Kongo. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

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Hulstaert, G. "Documents africains sur la pénétration européenne dans l'Equateur." Enquêtes et Documents d'Histoire africaine 2 (1977). [Louvain, Belgium.]

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Hyland, Paul. The Black Heart: A Voyage into Central Africa. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1989.

Inglis, Brian. Roger Casement. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973.

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Kelly, Sean. America's Tyrant: The CIA and Mobutu of Zaire. Washington, D.C.: American University Press, 1993.

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Lagergren, David. Mission and State in the Congo: A Study of the Relations Between Protestant Missions and the Congo Independent State Authorities with Special Reference to the Equator District, 1885–1903. Uppsala, Sweden: Gleerup, 1970.

Lapsley, Samuel. Life and Letters of Samuel Norvell Lapsley: Missionary to the Congo Valley, West Africa 1866-1892. Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1893. (Citations are to the full edition of 242 pages, not the abridged edition.)

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Leclercq, Louis. "Les carnets de campagne de Louis Leclercq. Étude de mentalité d'un colonial belge." Ed. Pierre Salmon. In Revue de l'Université de Bruxelles Nouvelle'Série 3 (February—April 1970): pp. 233–302.

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Lemaire, Charles.

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2. "Charles Lemaire à l'Equateur: Son journal inédit. 1891–1895." Ed. Daniel Vangroenweghe. In AnnalesAequatoria 7 (1986): pp. 7–73.

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Louis, William Roger.

1. "Roger Casement and the Congo."Journal of African History V, no. 1 (1964): pp. 99–120.

2. "The Philosophical Diplomatist: Sir Arthur Hardinge and King Leopold's Congo, 1906–1911." Bulletin des'Séances de l'Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer (1965): pp. 1402–1430.

3. "The Stokes Affair and the Origins of the Anti-Congo Campaign, 1895–1896." Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 43 (1965): pp. 572–584.

4. "The Triumph of the Congo Reform Movement, 1905–1908." In Boston University Papers on Africa, vol. II. Ed. Jeffrey Butler. Boston: Boston University Press, 1966.

5. Great Britain and Germany's Lost Colonies 1914–1919. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.

6. "Sir John Harris and 'Colonial Trusteeship.'" Bulletin des'Séances de l'Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre Mer 3 (1968): pp. 832–856.

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Marchal, Jules.

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3. Hearts of Darkness: The European Exploration of Africa. New York: Carroll'S Graf, 1992.

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Morel, E. D.

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2. Great Britain and the Congo: The Pillage of the Congo Basin. London: Smith, Elder'S Co., 1909.

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Roark, James L.

1. Masters Without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil War and Reconstruction. New York: W. W Norton & Co., 1977.

2. "American Expansionism vs. European Imperialism: Henry'S. Sanford and the Congo Episode, 1883–1885." Mid-America: An Historical Review LX (1978): pp. 21–33.

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Rom, Léon. Le Nègre du Congo. Brussels: Imprimerie Louis Vogels, 1899.

Rothstein, Andrew. British Foreign Policy and Its Critics 1830–1950. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1969.

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Samarin, William J. The Black Man's Burden: African Colonial Labor on the Congo and Ubangi Rivers, 1880–1900. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.

Sawyer, Roger. Casement: The Flawed Hero. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984.

Schall, Larryetta M. "William H. Sheppard: Fighter for African Rights." In Stony the Road: Chapters in the History of Hampton Institute, ed. Keith L. Schall. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1977.

Sereny, Gitta. Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder. New York: McGraw Hill, 1974.

Severin, Timothy. The African Adventure. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1973.

Shannon, R. T. Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation 1876. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1963.

Shaloff, Stanley. Reform in Leopold's Congo. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1970.

Sheppard, William H. Presbyterian Pioneers in Congo. Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1916.

Shepperson, George. "Aspects of American Interest in the Berlin Conference." In Förster, Mommsen, and Robinson, above.

Sherry, Norman. Conrad's Western World. London: Cambridge University Press, 1971.

Singleton-Gates, Peter, and Maurice Girodias. The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement's Life and Times with a Collection of his Diaries and Public Writings. New York: Grove Press, 1959.

Slade, Ruth.

1. English-Speaking Missions in the Congo Independent State (1878–1908). Brussels: Académie Royale des Sciences Coloniales, 1959.

2. King Leopold's Congo: Aspects of the Development of Race Relations in the Congo Independent State. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Smith, Gene. Maximilian and Carlota: A Tale of Romance and Tragedy. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1973.

Smith, Iain R. The Emin Pasha Relief Expedition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972.

Speeches Made at Banquet Tendered to Col. Henry I. Kowalsky by his Friends. January five, Nineteen-five. San Francisco: 1905.

Stanley, Henry M.

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7. The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley. Eds. Richard Stanley and Alan Neame. New York: Vanguard Press, 1961.

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Williams, Walter L. "William Henry Sheppard, Afro-American Missionary in the Congo, 1890–1910." In Black Americans and the Missionary Movement in Africa, ed. Sylvia M. Jacobs. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982.

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La Belgique Coloniale (Brussels)
Le Congo Illustré (Brussels)
The Congo News Letter (Boston)
Missionförbundet (Stockholm)
Le Mouvement Géographique (Brussels)
Official Organ of the Congo Reform Association (Liverpool, London)
Regions Beyond (London)
Southern Workman (Hampton, VA)
West African Mail, later African Mail (Liverpool)


Carroll, Murray Lee. Open Door Imperialism in Africa: The United States and the Congo, 1876 to 1892. Ph.D. thesis. University of Connecticut. 1971.

De Ryck, Maurice Martin. Zaire Colonial Documents Collection. University of Wisconsin.

Martens, Daisy'S. A History of European Penetration and African Reaction in the Kasai Region of Zaire, 1880–1908. Ph.D. thesis. Simon Fraser University. 1980.

McStallworth, Paul. The United States and the Congo Question, 1884–1914. Ph.D. thesis. Ohio State University. 1954.

Normandy, Elizabeth L. Black Americans and U. S. Policy Toward Africa: Two Case Studies from the pre—World War II Period. Ph.D. thesis. University of South Carolina. 1987.

Procès-Verbaux de la Commission d'Enquête instituée par décret du 23 juillet 1904. Archives Africaines, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Brussels. (IRCB 717–718).

Rom, Léon. Notes. Mes services au Congo de 1886 à 1908. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale. (Document MRAC-Hist-56.28).

Roth, Donald Franklin. "Grace Not Race": Southern Negro Church Leaders, Black Identity, and Missions to West Africa, 1865–1919. Ph.D. thesis. University of Texas at Austin. 1975.

Sheppard, William H. Papers. Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia.

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