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Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel O.F. Watkins relating to the First World War in East Africa


  • How to

The papers comprise files relating to the organisation of military labour in East Africa, a draft of the official history of the war in East Africa and a copy of Watkins' report as Director of Military Labour during the war.


  • Creation: 1906-1937


0.6 Linear metres (4 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 5901/1, file 1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. 5901/1-MS. 5901/4

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 5901


Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel O.F. Watkins relating to the Carrier Corps and other military work in East Africa during World War I.

Biographical / Historical

Oscar Ferris Watkins was born in Allahabad in 1877 and educated at Marlborough College and the University of Oxford. From 1900 to 1901 he served in the South African War before joining the South African Constabulary, 1902-1904, and the Transvaal Civil Service, 1904-1907. Watkins moved to the British East Africa Protectorate Service in 1908 and served as Director of Military Labour to the British East Africa Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

Following the war Watkins was a member of the Legislative Council and a Deputy Native Commissioner, retiring from the Kenya Civil Service in 1933. In 1939 he became editor of Baraza, a Swahili weekly newspaper. He died in 1943.

Arrangement note

The papers have generally been retained in the order in which they were received. Some of the arrangement was created by O.F. Watkins' daughter and some of her notes have been kept with the papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Bodleian Library by June Knowles, the daughter of O.F. Watkins, in 1986 and 1987.

Related Materials

Bodleian: MSS. Afr. s. 1394 Notes on laws and customs in East Africa by O.F. Watkins; MSS. Afr. s. 2029 Notes on the history, land-tenure and customs of the Kikuyu and Nandi by O.F. Watkins and others.


  • Oscar from Africa: the biography of Oscar Ferris Watkins, 1877-1943 by Elizabeth Watkins (Radcliffe Press, 1995)
Catalogue of the Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel O.F. Watkins relating to the First World War in East Africa CMD ID 5901
Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom