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Papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross (3)


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Reports and correspondence of and relating to the Public works Department, and other correspondence of William McGregor Ross, 1905-1939; report on the Tana River, Kenya, etc., 1909; draft manuscript of Kenya from within: a short political history by William McGregor Ross (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927); miscellaneous papers, 1900-1935; miscellaneous published reports and papers, including reports on the Uganda Railway, 1899-1929.


  • 1899-1939


1 box, 9 volumes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 1178].
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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 1178

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 4019

Biographical / Historical

William McGregor Ross (1876-1940) travelled to British East Africa in 1900, where he worked for three years as an assistant engineer on the Uganda Railway, then as engineer in charge of laying on a water supply to Nairobi. In 1904 he was made Director of Public Works, East Africa Protectorate, a post he held until 1923 and during a Commission of Enquiry into the working of his department. From 1916 to 1922 he served as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the East Africa Protectorate. Retiring in 1922, Ross returned to England, where he maintained an interest in African affairs, publishing Kenya from within. a short political history (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927). He was also involved in Labour Party politics and was the British workers' delegate to the Forced Labour Committee at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, 1929. He was a member of the Mandates Committee of the League of Nations Union and gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on East Africa, 1930-1931. In 1915 he married Isabel Abraham (1885-1964), a history teacher at Wellington High School for Girls, who had been living with his sister, Nellie Ross, for several years. In Kenya she pursued her interest in women's movements and politics, co-ordinating the East African Women's League in 1917. She was instrumental in obtaining the vote for European women in elections to the Legislative Council in 1919. They had two sons, both born in Kenya.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 117 in Manuscript Collections of Africana in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Supplement, compiled by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1971). A handlist is also available in the library reading room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were transferred to the library through the Oxford Colonial Records Project on 23rd April 1968.

Related Materials

Letters written home during service in British East Africa/Kenya, with demi-official and personal correspondence relating to service in the Public Works Department, with associated photographs, etc., [1894-1952] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1876); diaries, correspondence, etc. [1890-1964], with papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews, [1919-1940] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2305).
Papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross (3)
Paul Davidson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom