12 February, Dodoma Cathedral

11 February 2016: Kilimatinde church, Diocese of Rift Valley & Buigiri church

hdr  Beguiri

10 February 2016: Kongwa church & Mpwapwa Cathedral, Diocese of Central Tanganyika

hdr  P1480720

9 February 2016: Mvumi Church, Diocese of Central Tanganyika

P1480672   P1480664



6 February 2016: Christ Cathedral, Zanzibar


4-5 February 2016: Magila and Korogwe Missions, Tanzania

P1470127  P1460626



21-23 Jannuary 2016: ERSA Workshop in Lutheran Church in Cape Town, South Africa

The project has been delighed to be invited for the keynote lecture at the Economic Resarch South Africa (ERSA) Workshop 2016. Felix Meier zu Selhausen presented “Following the Cross: What church records can tell us about social and economic development in Africa”, highlighing the enormous potential of African mission church vital registry to reconstruct various aspects of Africa’s socio-economic and demographic past. The setting was appropriately the oldest and still in use church in South Africa, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cape Town. The invitation of workshop organiser Johan Fourie (Stellenbosch University) followed many colleagues from ERSA, Cape Town University, Pretoria Univeristy, Wits, and Stellenbosch University as well as church historians and archivist. The next week, at Stellenbosch Unievrsity, Anglican parish registers from different locations in South Africa were identified in collaboration with Johan Fourie.

Lutheran_Church,_Strand_Street   ERSA16

7-8 October: St. Paul’s, Holy Trinity, St. John’s, and Our Saviour’s Church, Lagos Island

Our Saviour's Church   Our Saviour's Church inside

On my last days in Lagos four Anglican churches were visited on Lagos Island.

5 October: Badagary, former slave port and earliest mission

Mission house Badagry   St. Thomas' Cathedral Badagry

Canons at Badagry   Slave chains

1-2 October: St. Jude’s Cathedral, Lagos Mainland

St. Jude's Cathedral   St. Jude's Cathedral inside

29 October: Christ Church Cathedral, Diocese of Lagos Island

Christ Church Cathedral - Lagos   Ajayi Crowther

27-28 September: Ibadan Diocese, Southern Nigeria

St. Peter's Cathedral - Ibadan   St. Peter's Cathedral - Ibadan 2   St. David's Cathedral - Ibadan   Ibadan iron sheet panorama

25-27 September: Abeokuta Diocese, Southern Nigeria

St. Peter's Cathedral - Abeokuta   Abeokuta St. Peters

21-23 August: Busoga Diocese, Eastern Uganda

Project assistants Benard Asiimwe and Ismail Muhemba from Mountains of the Moon University (Western Uganda) carried out the photo-digitization of the Church of Uganda’s historical registry in various parishes in Busoga in eastern Uganda. Busoga is one of present-day Uganda’s four kingdoms where in 1862 British explorer J.H. Speke arrived to coin the natural outlet from Lake Victoria (known as Ripon Falls) – the source of the Nile. More than one decade later the first missionaries of the Church Mission Society walked through Busoga on their way to Buganda.

Benard and Ismail visited eight of the earliest former CMS churches, now Church of Uganda, which date back to 1900. After visiting various churches in Jinja, the cotton ginning, sugar cane, and manufacturing centre during the colonial era, they travelled up north to digitize thousands of marriage and baptisms of the rural parishes of All Saints in Iganga and St. Paul’s in Kamuli, among others. We would like to extend our gratitude to the great collaboration with the Anglican Busoga Diocese, in particular Diocesan Secretary Rev. Can. David Kaluya.

All Saints church-Iganga  St Paul Church-Kamuli

All Saints Church, Iganga                              St. Paul’s Church, Kamuli

St Andrew's Church, Jinja   St. Paul's Church, Kamuli

St. Andrew’s Church, Jinja                             Benard at work

3-7 August 2015: XVII World Economic History Congress, Kyoto (Japan)

The research of the Economic History of Christian Africa project was presented at the XVII World Economic History Congress in Kyoto (Japan) by Jacob Weisdorf and Felix Meier zu Selhausen. We co-organised (with Johan Fourie, Martine Mariotti, and Alex Moradi) the session on “Microdata in African History” where we presented our recent work with Marco van Leeuwen (Utrecht) on long-run inter-generational social mobility using Ugandan marriage registers. The session mirrored the recent quest for historical African microdata to both quantify as well as to better understand Africa’s development trajectory on the African individual level. Sources used included colonial district archives and censuses, British Blue Books, police force registers, and church registry. The papers presented had a wide geographical spread comprising South Africa (3), Nigeria (2), Malawi, Kenya, and Uganda.

Kyoto panel WEHC

On the last day of the WEHC we presented our new work on African health and educational gains from Christian conversion with Shane Doyle (Leeds) in the session of “Counting People, Understanding Economies: Global Histories of Registration and Demographic Statistics”, organised by Gerardo Serra (Sussex) and Morten Jerven (Simon Fraser). Gerardo Serra (Sussex) presented on the political implications of Ghana’s first post-independence census and Edward Kerby (LSE) revealed in his presentation the great potential of the extensive survey taken by the Tomlison Commission in 1950s South Africa. See photos for participants of each session.


June & July 2015: Freetown & Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

We are grateful to Mr. Dominic Bao for digitising the Anglican marriage registers from churches around Freetown and Freetown Peninsula in June and July 2015. In Sierra Leone the history of Christianity began much earlier than in East Africa. Today’s capital city Freetown initally became the coastal settlement of the African slave diaspora residing in London (1787), Nova Scotia (1792) and Jamaica (1800). In 1808, Freetown became a Crown Colony of the British Empire to both protect the liberated slaves from indigenous Africans as well as a strategic West African port to enforce the ban of the slave trade on the Atlantic Ocean.

Dominic was received by the Provost Emerson Thomas of St. Geogre’s Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Sierra Leone, built as early as 1828. Below a photo of St. George’s during colonial and contemporary times. Dominic also met with the Bishop of Freetown, Thomas Arnols Ikunika Wilson. In the following weeks Dominic, with the assistance of the local clergy, digitised the Anglican registry of Holy Trinity, Christ Church, St. John’s Church, St. Philips, St. Patrick’s and St. Arthur’s,  Waterloo and Hastings Churches in Freetown and on the Peninsula. See pictures below.

Freetown bay   Waterloo Church

578_001   St. George's Cathedral

St. George’s Cathedral, Freetown and Church at Waterloo

Christ Church - Freetown   P1140046

Christ Church in Freetown and Dominic at work.

The project was also granted access to the precious archive of the Registrar General of Freetown District and digitised their Christian, Mohammedan and civil marriage registry to safeguard this ancient information for this government office. See for impressions of the archive below.

P1150012   P1150023P1230302   P1150021

Registrar General of Freetown District archive

3rd April 2015: Rabai & Kaloleni parishes, Mombasa Diocese

On the last day in Kenya, departed for the oldest missionary station in Kenya. We first visited St. Paul’s Church which was set up in 1846 by CMS missionaries Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann (see below) at Rabai. From there Dr. Krapf learnt the local languages and translated the bible into Swahili. Unfortunately most historical registry could not be found anymore at Rabai, so we used our free time to visit the Rabai Museum next to the church to learn about the history of its early congregation and its interaction with the slave trade. Next, we drove on to neighbouring Kaloneni where we were welcomed by the Archdeacon and his wife with fresh coconut juice and digitized their ancient registry.

P1110968   P1120011

P1120138   P1120588

Johann_Ludwig_Krapf  Johannes_rebmann

1st-2nd April 2015: Mombasa Memorial Cathedral & Frere Town

The final days in Kenya were spent at the coast – the entry point of Christian missionary movements in 1844. Provost Festus Kiseu of Mombasa Memorial Cathedral kindly arranged our visit and also informed the more rural ancient inland parishes of Rabai and Kaloleni about the opportunity to have their registry digitised. The first day was spent digitising the Cathedral’s registry with the great help of verger Peter and PCC Emmanuel. In the afternoon we learnt that Emmanuel Church (1875) in Frere Town (in northern Mombasa) had not remained with its historical registry. The day was overshadowed by the grim attack on Garissa University in the north-east of Kenya.

P1110965   P1100972

31st March 2015: Weithaga, Mount Kenya Central Diocese

The next morning we travelled 110km north-east to Muranga (formerly known as Fort Hall) in the heart of Kikuyuland. We were welcomed by Bishop Isaac Ng’ang’a of Mount Kenya Central Diocese who led us to Weithaga which formerly opened as a missionary station in 1903 through initial encouragement of local Kikuyu chiefs and the major transport improvement due to the completion of the Uganda Railway in 1901, connecting the Indian Ocean with Lake Victoria. The old earthen brick church building is still in-tact although it currently is used as a school class room (see photo below).

P1090422   P1090621

30th March 2015: Kabete, Mount Kenya South Diocese

On Monday Stephen and I visited Kabete, the first missionary station among the Kiikuyu established in 1900 in a comparatively rural ancient parish about 15km from north of Nairobi. Our journey started in Kiambu at the seat of Bishop Timothy Ranji of Mount Kenya South who warmly welcomed us together with the Archdeacon of Kabete Deanery. After our introduction we drove to Kabete which was established by the first CMS missionary A.W. McGregor in 1900 where we preserved the registry.

P1080995   P1090419

29th March 2015: Sunday service at All Saints, Nairobi

I was invited by the Provost to attend the Palm Sunday service at All Saints. It was a most impressive experience. Approximately 3,500 Anglicans congregated in the 98 year old cathedral and the choir sang beautifully.

All Saints Nairobi   P1080300

28th March 2015: St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Nairobi

On Saturday morning we visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Nairobi  Diocese), the African counterpart of the white settlers community All Saints Cathedral which was built in 1923 (see right hand photo). The church immediately found a building congregation as it was placed amid an African residential area which was further supplied by the nearby African railway workers and government quarters. We spent the morning digitizing their vital registry.

P1080293   st stephens church nairobi

27th March 2015: Anglican Church Archive, Nairobi

After completion of All Saints, we visited the Anglican Archive in Nairobi to explore whether any historicla registers found their way into the archive which might be useful for complementing datasets from other churches in Kenya. We were joined in the archive by Shane Doyle – historian on African demography and great colleague from Leeds University.

P1040015   P1110364

23-26th March 2015: All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi

The start of my two weeks trip to Kenya went in reverse order of the former Christian missionaries moving from the East African coast into the interior. I landed in Nairobi on 22 March.  My first visit took me to All Saint’s Cathedral which was built between 1915 and 1917 where a large white settler community used to congregate for most of the colonial era. I was warmly welcomed by the Provost Sammy Wainaina to whom I had been earlier introduced by their sister cathedral of Namirembe in Kampala. Together with Stephen, my invaluable local assistant for the two weeks, it took us two full days to preserve all baptism, marriage and burial registers. We were honoured that we were able to work from the Cathedral’s Chapter House, a beautiful ancient room within the Cathedral used for special meetings of the clergy (see picture).

All Saints - Nairobi   P1050584

24th February 2015: Bunyoro-Masindi Diocese

The next morning Benard and Ismail continued their Bunyoro journey further up north to Masindi, to once again safeguard the church’s registry. The earliest marriage registers from 1914-1930 were unfortunately lost due to a fire at St. Matthew’s Cathedral but the remaining 85 years of marriage registry were complete. We copied the photos on the Diocese’s computer.

Masindi 2   Masindi 1

23th February 2015: Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese in Hoima

This week Benard and Ismail travelled up north to Bunyoro. After a warm welcome by the Diocese’s Vicar at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Hoima, they digitised the marriage registers starting in 1900. Hoima is the capital of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom where the royal palace of the omukama (king) is located. The Bunyoro Kingdom dates back as far as to the 13th century and was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East Africa, stretching along Lake Albert. Currently, we are looking into visiting some of the earliest parishes around Hoima in March with the kind support of Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa.

Hoima Cathedral   Hoima 2

12th – 14th February 2015: St. John’s Cathedral & Toro Hospital

This morning we met Bishop Reuben Kisembo of Ruwenzori Diocese whom we knew well from the data-collection two years ago at St. John’s Cathedral (LHS photo) and who kindly welcomed us. He continues to be very helpful and connects us to the Dioceses of Hoima and Masindi in Bunyoro, further up north. He also recommended us to the administrator of Toro Hospital, the second oldest mission hospital in Uganda where we went the same afternoon and were surprised to find that the in-patient registers since 1908 had survived and we were to preserve them for the hospital and future research purposes. See Benard and Ismail at work outside the hospital archive.

St. John's Cathedral   Toro Hospital

9th – 11th February 2015: Mountains of the Moon University & training of project assistants

We collaborate with Mountains of the Moon University (MMU) in this research project. The University in Western Uganda hosts our project assistants who are former BA students of the latter and collect additional parish data and enter those into the spread sheet. During those two days I met with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Edmond Kagambe to discuss what role MMU can play in this research project and we signed a mutual agreement for the next two years.


MMU’s archive kindly hosts the data-entry team consisting of Benard and Ismail with whom I worked in the past successfully. At a local carpenter we ordered a table and chairs for our new office. See below a view into the archive and the new workplace of our local project team: Benard and Ismail. Besides, MMU’s archive is a real treasure chest, holding the historical records of Kabarole and Hoima Districts as well as the ancient documents of the Toro kingdom Archive. In the future, the Ugandan marriage register photos will also appear in their catalogue.

Ismail at work   Benard at work

8th February 2015: Ankole Diocese in Mbarara

The next morning we travelled to Mbarara, the capital of the Ankole kingdom. We arrived during Sunday service but afterwards were kindly received by the Bishop and subsequently digitised the records at St. James’ Cathedral, before taking the long drive up north to Fort Portal, passing through the lush tea estates of Bushenyi, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and along the Rwenzori Mountains.

St. James Mbarara   Marriage register Mbarara

7th February 2015: Western Buganda Diocese

Together with project assistant Benard from Mountains of the Moon University, we followed the initial spread of the gospel, left Kampala and travelled west to Masaka to the Diocese of Western Buganda at Kako (next to Masaka), where we were welcomed by both bishop and vicar. We photographed their historical marriage registers and copied the data on the diocese’s computer (see photo below). Luckily, Lake Mburo National Park (see RHS photo) offered itself as a place to stay the night before travelling on to Mbarara the next morning.

Benard   Lake Mburo NP

6th February 2015: Nateete Church & Albert Cook Library

We arranged a meeting with the Reverend at Nateete’s Martyrs Church (see photo below), located in the eastern suburbs of Kampala. Nateete is a special place. In 1878, CMS missionary Alexander Mackay (1849-1890) and his companions arrived in Buganda. Kabaka Muteesa I gave him a place to set camp at Nateete from where he began to teach people to read and write (initially from a cave with a well). Later he set up a printing press at Nateete where he printed reading materials which he had translated into Luganda. Project assistant Benard Asiimwe from Mountains of the Moon University (Fort Portal) and I received permission to digitise the marriage registers of Nateete starting in 1913.

Nateete Church   Title page

In the afternoon I visited the Sir Albert Cook Library at Mulago Hospital which hosts the archive of most of Buganda’s medical history, including the in-patient records of Mengo Hospital – Uganda’s first CMS medical hospital established in 1897 (see RHS photo).

5th February 2015: Uganda Christian University & Mukono Diocese

On Thursday I visited Uganda Christian University (UCU) and the Anglican Diocese in Mukono located between Jinja and Kampala. UCU was founded in 1913 as Bishop Tucker Theological College to train Ugandan priests, named after the first missionary bishop Alfred Tucker. After welcomed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I met Christine Byaruganga, the archivist at UCU on the beautiful and ancient campus. Together with her team she has recently collected most written materials from various dioceses of the Anglican Church to safeguard this information for future generations. Together, we digitsed the marriage registers of the on-campus Mukono Diocese and shared some ideas on collaborating.

Mukono UCU   UCU main building

4th February 2015: Namirembe Cathedral, Kampala

The next day took me back to Kampala’s impressive St. Paul’s Cathedral on Namirembe Hill to meet Rev. Canon Benon Kityo (RHS on photo), the delightful Provost of Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala. This year Namirembe celebrates its 100 year anniversary of their earthen brick cathedral. Below two photos of Namirembe during colonial (LHS) and contemporary times (RHS). A picture of the straw-thatched cathedral’s structure prior to 1915 is shown below. Currently, the Diocese is putting up an exhibition centre on the history of its initial congregation. For that purpose, we were happy to contribute some long-term development charts comprising literacy, occupations, marriage patterns and inter-generational social mobility which are based on the marriage registers I had digitised in 2013. Kindly the Dean recommended us to Ankole and Western Buganda Dioceses to safeguard their parish registry.

Namirembe   DSC02385

Namirembe Cathedral BW postcard   Namirembe

3rd February 2015: Kampala’s Makerere University

After an obligatory but brief Ebola check-up at Entebbe Airport, my first trip brought me to Makerere University, among the first technical colleges/universities in East Africa founded in 1922 (see photo below of the main building). Makerere’s library archive contains a special collection of historical manuscripts and photographic material within the Africana Section, where we found and digitised the first marriage register from Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala dating back to 1891. This completes our longitudinal series of Namirembe 1895-1898 and 1908-2012.

P1000230   Makerere Library

The first trip of this research project took me (Felix) back to Uganda in February 2015, where the initial pilot study of this project was conducted, which formed part of my doctoral studies at Utrecht University (Netherlands) and Mountains of the Moon University (Uganda).

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