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Archives and Special Collections: Sudan Archive: Search and Citation guide

Our collections

Collection catalogues describe archival material, and will often not include published materials accessioned with that collection. Published materials are listed in the library catalogues, with notes added to indicate their provenance. Using Discover make sure to note which filter you are using: Durham Archives, Durham Libraries, or perhaps Everything. There is also an older library catalogue system that for some types of searches may be more intuitive for some users.

Archival material in the Sudan Archive may be searched either using Discover or this Advanced Search tool. In both cases filters should be selected to search across only collections in the Sudan Archive. Search results are presented differently by each search engine, but the data that is being searched is the same.

When searching by keyword remember to search for variant spellings. Searches by reference number can produce variable results. For example, when searching for a report with the reference SAD.253/1/4-42, entering that full reference will not always succeed. The following variants will usually be successful: 253/1/4-42, or 253/1/*. In this example, searching for SAD.253/1/5 (the second page of the report) will never produce a result as this page is silently included in the reference to the full report.

A short video guide to searching the Sudan Archive is published here:

We make our collections accessible to all for the purposes of academic and community research, and provide catalogues to them online. In accordance with standard professional practice our catalogues will reflect the language of the collection and of its original creators; additionally, the catalogues may have been written many years ago when the collection was first received by the university. Voices, objects and images from the past can display attitudes, opinions and relate to events which may be viewed as biased and offensive in today’s society. Other voices are not present. We are committed to listening to all communities and welcome your engagement. If you wish to contact us about any language used in our catalogues or about any particular item in our collections please make a note of the reference number and email us at

Collection catalogues in the Sudan Archive typically arrange the material into the following groups:

  • official papers
  • personal papers
  • diaries, memoirs and trek notes
  • articles, lectures, speeches, books
  • historical material
  • photographic material
  • maps and plans
  • museum objects
  • newspaper cuttings
  • miscellanea
  • printed material.

A short summary of each collection creator's career is provided at the head of each catalogue.

Material in the Sudan Archive is given a reference number which is unique across the collections of papers, such as SAD.303/9/8-17, where 8-17 are specific pages within file 9 in box 303. Usually it is not necessary to give the name of the person or organisation within which collection the item is found, although it may be convenient to do so.

The short form of citation should be GB-0033-SAD.reference number.

Printed references take the form: SAD.reference number.

To order items in the Search Room, use the SAD. code followed by the reference number for the file. Citing the section of the finding aid is useful. Material is produced to readers in our Search Room by file rather than by item within a file, so if ordering SAD.253/1/4-42 you will be presented with SAD.253/1/ in its entirety, i.e. 253/1/1-42. So if ordering several items within the same file, or from several consecutive files, it will be most efficient to order file SAD.253/1 or files SAD/253/1-3, for example. 

File references are written on yellow slips, one reference per slip, and these yellow slips are then handed to Search Room staff working at the invigilation desk. It is most helpful to email your document list to in advance of your visit, and this will also maximise your time with the material. New documents may be requested on the day.

Documents are given to readers in carrying trays. Readers carry their tray from the invigilation desk to their seat where the folder of material may be removed from the tray and placed flat on the table. When they are finished with a file readers return the documents in the tray to the invigilation desk. 

Once accessioned a Summary List of the new material is made, and this summary is usually published as a Collection Guide. In time a full Catalogue is drafted and published, linked from the Collection Guide. Material can be inaccessible until it is fully catalogued and numbered. Each year a return of all accessions is made to the National Register of Archives: past returns are published online by the National Archives.

The Sudan Archive is a group of more than 400 separate collections, whether of individuals or organisations. Collection Guides for all these collections are published in the Summary Guide. In September 2020 there were about 1050 catalogued boxes of material and many metres of printed publications and maps in the Archive, and additional uncatalogued boxes in the backlog.

Access to original sources

The collections mentioned above are located at Palace Green Library.  Our current opening hours are below.

  • Monday to Friday: 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday: closed
  • Sunday: closed

For further information on visiting to use the collections, please see our Visiting Guide.

See separate Libraries and Site Information guide for further information on Palace Green Library.

Contact us

Where to start

Sources elsewhere

The National Records Office (Khartoum)

South Sudan National Archives (Juba)

The National Archives (UK)