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Archive of Edward Humphry Lane Poole, Provincial Commissoner


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The papers comprise: diaries, 1917-2019 (encompassing travel and appointment diaries); photographs, 1918-2019; miscellaneous correspondence and research papers, 1909-2003; biography and selected transcripts, 2003-2014.

The archive contains a significant proportion of digital material including: digital scans and born digital transcripts of Edward Humphry Lane Poole's diaires and digital scans of his photographs.


  • Creation: 1909-2014


2.1 Linear metres (10 boxes; 14 digital shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 10755/1].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 10755/1-7; MSS. 10755 photogr. 1-3; MSS. 10755 digital 1-14

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 10755


Correspondence and papers of Edward Humphry Lane Poole (1888-1961), Provincial Commissioner of Northern Rhodesia

Biographical / Historical

Edward Humphry Lane Poole affectionately known as ‘Ned’ by his family was born in 1888 in Oxford, the son of Professor Reginald and Rachael Emily (née Malleson) Lane Poole. He was educated at Lynam's Preparatory School from the age of eight before attending Rugby where his education was cut short by a serious illness. Following a period of recovery at Dixton Manor, the Lane Poole holiday home, he was able to join his brother Austin Lane Poole at Magdalen College School in Oxford before attending his father’s college, Balliol, in 1908 where he stayed for four years.

After his Oxford University education Lane Poole was acquainted with the South Africa Company (the Chartered Company of Cecil Rhodes) through a connection of his mother’s who hired him as a probationer for Northern Rhodesia in 1913.

Following this appointment, he was dispatched to Central Africa where he spent the next quarter of a century teaching generations of administrative cadets their trade before becoming a Provincial Commissioner of Barotseland in 1935 after short periods acting as Provincial Commissioner in Eastern Province and Director of African Education.

During this period, Lane Poole spent a great deal of time in Petauke, touring the Luangwa Valley and recording his surroundings with meticulous detail, becoming the first recognised authority on its geography, people and fauna. He contributed greatly to our knowledge of the people whom he served, through his papers including his Ulendo diaries and photographs (contained in this collection) and his book, “The Native Tribes of the Eastern Province of Northern Rhodesia” which is regarded as one of the most authoritative books about the area ever published.

Lane Poole's retirement in 1939 marked the end of his Colonial Service in Africa and his departure for Britain where he continued to lead an active life, working at the Home Office and later joining the Ministry of Home Security during the war. After the war he relocated to Hampshire where he continued to take a keen interest in local affairs choosing to undertake a study of local history. His detailed knowledge of Northern Rhodesia continued to be of great interest and use to the United Central Africa Association which presented his findings concerning Rhodesia and Nyasaland to the people of Britain prior to the setting up of the Central African Federation, and later to Lord Hailey when revising his “African survey”.

He continued to retain a lively interest in African affairs until his death in August 1961. He was survived by his widow Alison Darroll Page Lane Poole (née Wilson) and his daughter Susan Darroll Johnston (née Lane Poole) who continued to take a keen interest in her father’s life and his Zambian descendents, compiling finding aids and typescripts of her father’s work and orchestrating the transfer of his archive to the Bodleian in 2014.


The present finding aid comprises four series including: diaries, photographs, miscellaneous correspondence and research papers and biography and selected transcripts. Each series is arranged chronologically and integrates physical records with their digital counterparts (identified by the shelf mark 'MS. 10755 digital') in a hybrid arrangement.

Other Finding Aids

An inventory listing all the physical items in Edward Humphry Lane Poole's collection, created by his daughter Susan Darroll Johnston (née Lane Poole), [c.2003], can be found at MS. 10755/7.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by his daughter, Susan Darroll Johnston (née Lane Poole), Australia, in 2014, and by his wife Alison Darroll Page Lane Poole (née Wilson) , [c. 1962- c.1963].

Existence and Location of Copies

The collection comprises a significant proportion of digital and physical copies including: digital scans, born-digital transcripts and physical typescripts of Edward Lane Poole's Ulendo diaries and digital scans and physical copies of his photographs and some of his research papers.

Catalogue of the Archive of Edward Humphry Lane Poole
Finding aid prepared by Alice McDonald
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom