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Archive of Philip Allison


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The archive comprises diaries and lists of acquisitions, research papers and publications, photographs, slides and negatives.


  • Creation: 1923-1994


3.0 Linear metres (19 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 2535/1]

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 2535/1-19

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6329


Papers and photographs of Philip Allison (1907-1991) relating to African art and antiquities, particularly the Cross River monoliths.

Biographical / Historical

Philip Ashby Allison was born in 1907 and educated at Caterham School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. After training at the Forestry School in Oxford he served in the Nigerian Forestry Service from 1931 until 1960. During this time he developed an interest in African art and antiquities and returned to Nigeria after independence to work for the Department of Antiquities, surveying, photographing and collecting art and artefacts for Nigerian museums.

In 1961 and 1962 Allison surveyed the Cross River monoliths (known locally as Akwanshi) in Eastern Nigeria, recording 295 carved stones found within an area of 350 square miles along the Middle Cross River, and the results of this work were published in Cross River Monoliths in 1968. In the same year his second book, African Stone Sculpture, was also published and became a standard work on the subject.

Allison returned to England in 1963 and worked part-time in the British Museum's Department of Ethnography. He retired to the New Forest in 1967 and published a photographic record of the region in 1979 ( The New Forest: a photographic record of 100 years of forest life) and, in 1988, a photographic account of colonial life in West Africa ( Life in the White Man's Grave). He died in 1991.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Professor John Picton in December 2008, fulfilling Philip Allison's wishes.


  • Philip Allison, African stone sculpture, (Lund Humphries: 1968).
  • Philip Allison, Cross River monoliths, (Dept. of Antiquities, Federal Republic of Nigeria: 1968).
Catalogue of the archive of Philip Allison
Finding aid prepared by Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description
Finding aid note
Cataloguing assistance provided by Molly Nickson.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom