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Inventory of the Diana Mitchell Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Collection Summary

    Title: Diana Mitchell Papers
    Dates: 1953-2005
    Collection Number: 2011C36
    Creator: Mitchell, Diana, 1932-
    Collection Size: 71 manuscript boxes, 3 card file boxes (29.2 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: The Diana Mitchell Papers document her activities as a social and political activist, journalist, educator, and consultant in her native Zimbabwe, dating from the late 1950s to the early 2000s. The collection consists of correspondence, writings, reports, minutes, biographical data, and printed matter.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Languages: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Diana Mitchell Papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2011.

    Related Materials

    Kent Bruce Crane Collection, Hoover Institution Archives
    A. H. M. Kirk-Greene Papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    H. R. G. Howman Papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Zimbabwean Subject Collection, Hoover Institution Archives


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    Diana Mitchell was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia (Harare, Zimbabwe), in 1932. She was a school teacher at various schools and a part-time student at the University of Zimbabwe, where she received her M.A. in African history in 1979.
    During much of the late 1950s to early 2000s Mitchell lent her skills to a variety of political parties and movements, beginning in the late 1950s in Southern Rhodesia with the nascent political parties that sought to bring about a settlement between the British colonial rulers and African nationalist leaders seeking independence. After the leader of the white-minority Rhodesian Front, led by Ian Smith, declared the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (or UDI) from Britain in 1965--in its bid to maintain white minority rule in Rhodesia--Mitchell worked actively to oppose the UDI. She worked in a succession of political parties, including the United Federal Party (1957-1962), the Rhodesia Party (1963-1965), the multi-racial Centre Party (1967-1977), and its successor party, the National Unifying Force (1977-1979). In 1974 she ran as an independent candidate for parliament, campaigning to represent her home district of Highlands North in Salisbury. During this period, she also participated in a number of social programs, including ones to benefit African school children in Salisbury, and programs advocating rural development and environmental education.
    Following the end of white minority rule and the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, Mitchell continued to be active in a number of non-governmental organizations that sought to provide social services and help build the agricultural and educational infrastructure of the newly independent country. As Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe tightened his grip on power through his political party, the ZANU-PF, Mitchell found herself drawn once again to organizations advocating on behalf of human rights and freedom of the press, including several political parties that were formed in opposition to the policies of the ZANU-PF, including the Forum Party in the early 1990s.
    During the pre- and post-independence periods, Mitchell was also a prolific commentator on first Rhodesian, and then Zimbabwean, political and social issues, regularly publishing articles and op-ed pieces in newspapers both at home and abroad. During this period she became well-known for a series of biographical reference books on African nationalist leaders from Zimbabwe, which cemented her reputation as an expert on the political leadership of this land. During the 1990s, Mitchell was also active in the campaign to oppose the ZANU-PF's draconian laws aimed at restricting non-governmental organizations operating in the country, known as the PVO (Private Voluntary Organization) Act. In 2003, she and her husband emigrated to England, where she has continued to comment on developments in her homeland through her writings, including her online blog, "Zimbabwe?Colonial Relic" (http://z-cr.blogspot.com/).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Diana Mitchell Papers document her activities as a social and political activist, journalist, educator, and consultant in her native Zimbabwe, dating from the late 1950s to the early 2000s.
    The Diana Mitchell Papers are arranged in six broad series reflecting her activities during the past fifty years. The first series, Political parties and elections file, contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, minutes of meetings, notes, voter lists, political ephemera, and related material from the parties she worked for, as well as ephemera she collected from other parties and movements. Of particular note are documents that reconstruct the founding of several political parties in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, such as the Centre Party and Forum Party, as well as extensive material from Mitchell's own campaign for parliament. As a researcher and writer, she kept extensive subject files of newspaper clippings, documents, and ephemera, most of which are kept elsewhere in this collection. The section on "Elections," however, has been retained with this series.
    The second series of materials, Civic associations and non-governmental organizations file, documents many of the organizations that Mitchell volunteered for, and in which she often played a key role, ranging from the Friends of African Schoolchildren Fund in the late 1960s up to organizations advocating human rights, freedom of the press, and the rights of women in the 1990s. Such files often contain newsletters, correspondence, financial records, printed reports, and as Mitchell served as the secretary in several of these organizations, there are extensive minutes of the meetings of such organizations. Many files from these latter years document the efforts of the ZANU-PF regime to restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations, as well as those organizations' attempts to resist such measures.
    The series Academic materials and writings contains material from Mitchell's academic career, both as a graduate student at the University of Rhodesia in the 1970s, as well as her teaching career at the Harare Polytechnic Institute in the 1980s. In addition, typescripts and newspaper clippings of many of her columns and articles, primarily in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, but also in the United Kingdom, are included. Drafts of her biographical reference books on Zimbabwean nationalist leaders are included, as is material about her long-time collaborator on this project, Robert Cary. The subseries of personal correspondence is also included in this series, and often contains reflections about the political situation in Zimbabwe written by Mitchell to friends abroad, as well as letters to Mitchell from friends within the country.
    The largest series is the Subject file, which contains newspaper clippings, magazine articles, pamphlets, brochures, ephemera, and at times, correspondence, about various topics of interest to Mitchell as both an author and a political activist. Many of these files are biographical in nature, and were often used as background material for her Who's Who series on Zimbabwean political leaders. Other files are more general in scope, focusing on various social and political issues in Zimbabwe, and consist primarily of clippings taken from Rhodesian and Zimbabwean newspapers, but which sometimes contain reports, pamphlets, and other documentation. The Card file also contains biographical information and background materials for Mitchell's many projects, including the Who's Who publication.


    The collection is organized in six groups: Political parties and elections file, Civic associations and non-governmental organizations file, Academic materials and writings, Subject file, Personal file, and Card file

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Zimbabwe--Politics and government.
    Zimbabwe--Social conditions.
    Zimbabwe--Economic conditions.