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Marguerite Cartwright and the University of Nigeria


Excerpt from the University of Nigeria plan of work from the Provisional Council
Excerpt from the University of Nigeria plan of work from the Provisional Council

For Women’s History Month, we continue our look at the papers of journalist and United Nations correspondent Dr. Marguerite Cartwright, which are being processed through support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). One of the more interesting things found by ARC archivists while working the Cartwright papers are her collected documentation about the University of Nigeria.



The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) was founded by the first Nigerian President, Nnamdi Azikiwe, in 1955 and officially opened on October 7, 1960, as the first indigenous, full-fledged university in Nigeria. After being nominated by President Azikiwe in 1959, Dr. Cartwright was appointed by the Eastern Nigeria Parliament to the Provisional Council of the University where she became one of five trustees.



Old exhibition label describing how the Amistad Research Center provided Nigeria with copies of destroyed university records
Old exhibition label describing how the Amistad Research Center provided Nigeria with copies of destroyed university records

In her role as trustee, she received copies of the Provisional Council records, which she compiled into scrapbooks. These materials include standing orders, correspondence, agendas, meeting minutes and financial reports. The records outline the vision and focus of the UNN. According to a label within one of the scrapbooks, the university’s records were destroyed during the Nigerian Civil War (that is, the Biafran Civil War of 1967-1970). Documentation for the Cartwright papers led current Amistad staff to discover that the Center provided copies of these missing records to Nigeria in the nineteen eighties.

Dr. Marguerite Cartwright and Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony
Dr. Marguerite Cartwright and Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony


In addition to her work with the University of Nigeria, Dr. Cartwright had the opportunity to meet with many African leaders—particularly in Nigeria and Ghana through her extensive travels. She was a charter member of the United Nations Correspondents’ Circle and wrote for many publications including The New York Amsterdam News, The Chicago Sun-Times, and The Negro History Bulletin. Through her work and travels as a correspondent for the UN, she often consulted on various issues, preparing lectures, and hosting receptions in order to establish good relations between African countries and the United States. Friendships were cultivated during Cartwright’s frequent travels to Africa and are reflected within the correspondence, either in loose form or as part of scrapbooks compiled about various African nations. Some of the African correspondents include Nigerian President Nmandi Azikiwe Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, and Nigerian diplomat Mobolaji Bank-Anthony.



Letter from Nigerian ambassador J.T.F. Iyalla thanking Cartwright for her goodwill
Letter from Nigerian ambassador J.T.F. Iyalla thanking Cartwright for her goodwill

The Marguerite Cartwright Papers are being processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission under grant RH-102791-19.



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