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Finding Aid for the David P. Gamble papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Title: David P. Gamble papers
    Collection number: 1997
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 68 linear ft. (54 record cartons, 32 document boxes, 3 flat boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1920-2007
    Abstract: Anthropologist David P. Gamble was born in 1920 in Northern Ireland and passed away in California in 2011 after a long career of research and teaching. The collection contains a variety of material related to Gamble’s more than six decades of work on The Gambia and its peoples. Copies of the anthropologist’s publications on Gambian history, economics, languages, and cultures are included, along with many of the notes, maps, illustrations, primary sources, and secondary sources from which he generated these studies. Gamble’s output was wide-ranging, but of special note are his contributions to the bibliography of The Gambia; the ethno-linguistic study of Wolof, Mandinka, and Fula; and the early history of the Gambia River region.
    Language of Materials: Materials are primarily in English and French; some materials in Wolof, Mandinka, Fula, and Jola.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Gamble, David P.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], David P. Gamble papers (Collection 1997). Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7001942 

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Collection acquired from David P. Gamble and Linda K. Salmon between 2011 and 2012.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Jesse D. Ruskin in 2013 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jillian Cuellar. Collection has been partially processed. Series 1 to 6 have been processed to the file level, with books and photo clippings processed to the box level. Series 7 to 12 have not been processed, but general content of each box has been indicated.


    David P. Gamble was born in 1920 in Northern Ireland and passed away in California in 2011 after a long career of anthropological research and teaching. Completing his undergraduate studies at University College, London in 1941, Gamble spent several years assisting with archaeological and physical studies of highland communities in Northern Ireland. After a brief stint in the Royal Engineers, he joined the Colonial Administrative Service in 1944 in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), taking up posts in Tarkwa, Axim, and Sekondi. At that time, Gamble’s academic supervisor Daryll Forde, who was then Director of the International African Institute, began conceiving a series of studies, later known as the Ethnographic Survey of Africa, which aimed to fill wide gaps in ethnographic knowledge of the continent. The Gambia was viewed as a site in need of research. Gamble’s other mentor, economic anthropologist Raymond Firth, also conducted a survey of what was then British West Africa and came to the same conclusion. At Forde’s and Firth’s urging, Gamble conducted field research among Mandinka, Wolof, Jola, and Fula communities in The Gambia between 1946 and 1958, initially with the support of a Colonial Research Fellowship and later as a Research Officer under The Gambia Government. With a dissertation on the socioeconomic conditions of the Mandinka village Kerewan, Gamble earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of London in 1958. The anthropologist returned to The Gambia for research numerous times between 1963 and 1986. Published in 1967, Gamble’s The Wolof of Senegambia, Together with Notes on the Lebu and the Serer became a valuable addition to Forde’s Ethnographic Survey. Among many other publications, Gamble produced a 52-volume series of studies on Gambian history, society, and culture, titled Gambian Studies (1977-2007). In 1999, as a culmination of his work on early Gambian history, Gamble edited a scholarly edition of The Discovery of River Gambra (1623) by Richard Jobson.
    Gamble began his academic career with teaching and research appointments at the University of Edinburgh (1959-1963), San Francisco State College (1963-1965), Queen’s University Belfast (1965-1966), and Njala University College in Sierra Leone (1966-1967). In 1967, he became Associate Professor of Anthropology at San Francisco State University, from which he retired as a tenured Professor in 1986. He remained Professor Emeritus there until his death in 2011.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains original and secondary material related to Gamble’s more than six decades of research on The Gambia and its peoples. This includes original notes, illustrations, maps, photographs, and correspondence produced during the anthropologist’s extensive fieldwork among Mandinka, Wolof, Jola, and Fula communities in The Gambia. Copies of the anthropologist’s publications on Gambian history, economics, languages, and cultures are included, along with many of the primary and secondary sources, including newspapers, photocopies of documents, books and periodicals, and government reports, from which he generated these studies. At the heart of Gamble’s corpus of published work is his monumental 52-volume Gambian Studies series, a complete set of which is held in the collection. Gambian Studies is comprised of bibliographies of The Gambia; dictionaries and grammars of Wolof, Mandinka, and Fula languages; collections of folktales, stories, and proverbs; studies of historical sources; and general ethnographies of the country’s people.
    Gamble’s research is topically wide-ranging and methodologically diverse, reflecting the influence of his mentors and his own eclectic expertise. Geographically, his work focuses on The Gambia, but extends to Senegal and Sierra Leone. Topics and issues covered include trade, agriculture, land tenure, law and legal systems, folklore, material culture, verbal and visual culture, language, life-cycle ceremonies, music, and the colonial encounter. Methods included mapping, census-taking, field observation, photography, sound recording, analysis of historical documents, and interviews. Gamble treated research projects iteratively, revisiting ideas and sources numerous times over the course of his career. Date ranges of accumulated research material can therefore be quite wide within a single subject area. Gamble’s publications are, in many cases, present in both final and draft manuscript forms.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged in twelve series by subject matter and type of material.
    • Series 1: Personal materials, 1920-2000
    • Series 2: Wolof research materials, 1920-2007
    • Series 3: Mandinka research materials, 1940-2006
    • Series 4: The Gambia research materials, 1920-2007
    • Series 5: Senegambian music, 1975-2004
    • Series 6: Photographs, 1920-2007
    • Subseries 6.1: Photo prints and negatives
    • Subseries 6.2: Photo clippings
    • Series 7: Fula research materials, 1920-2007
    • Series 8: Jola, Lebu, Serer, and Serahuli research materials, 1920-2007
    • Series 9: Sierra Leone / Temne research materials, 1920-2007
    • Series 10: Gambian Studies Series, 1976-2007
    • Series 11: Gambian newspapers and periodicals, ca. 1960-2004
    • Series 12: Books and theses, 1920-2007
    • Subseries 12.1: Theses, 1967-1994
    • Subseries 12.2: Books, 1920-2007

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Gamble, David P. --Archives.
    San Francisco State University. Department of Anthropology --Faculty --Archival resources.
    Anthropologists --United States --Archival resources.
    Gambia --Social life and customs.
    Gambia --Description and travel.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    manuscripts for publication.

    Related Material

    Gamble’s sound recordings and slide photographs, as well as his original collection indexes, are held in the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive: David P. Gamble Collection (2011.08).   Selected volumes of Gamble’s Gambian Studies series are available for download through St. Mary’s College of Maryland: http://www.smcm.edu/gambia/david_gamble.html