Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Loft (George) papers
No online items No online items       Request items ↗
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Title: George Loft papers
    Date (inclusive): 1957-1989
    Collection Number: 2006C21
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 11 manuscript boxes (4.4 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, memoranda, reports, interview summaries, printed matter, and photographs, relating to American Friends Service Committee activities in Africa, especially relating to housing in Zambia; international development projects in Africa; and political and social conditions in Zambia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa.
    Creator: Loft, George
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2005.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], George Loft Papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Biographical Note

    1915 January 27 Born, New York City
    1931 Graduated, High School of Commerce, New York
    1932-1942 Assistant to Economist, National Dairy Products Corporation, New York
    1938 Graduated, Bachelor's degree in Accounting, New York University
    1940 Completed Master of Business Administration, New York University
    1942 Married Eleanor Riddle
    1942-1945 Chief of Subsistence Requirements Section, Military Planning Division, Office of the Quartermaster General, Washington, D.C.
    1945-1947 Executive Assistant to Director, Frozen Food Foundation, Inc., Syracuse, N.Y.
    1948 January-May Legislative Representative, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Washington, D.C.
    1948-1953 Associate Public Relations Secretary, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia
    1953-1957 Director, Public Relations, Atlas Chemical Industries, Wilmington, Delaware
    1957-1960 Representative in Sub-Saharan Africa, American Friends Service Committee, based in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
    1960-1961 Advisor on African Programs, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia
    1961-1963 Director, Quaker Program at the United Nations, American Friends Service Committee
    1963-1966 Vice President, African-American Institute, New York
    1966 November-December Consultant, United Nations Development Program, Malawi
    1967-1977 Employed by Field Foundation, New York
    1969 July-September Consultant, American Friends Service Committee, Kafue Self-help Housing Project, Zambia
    1971 February Consultant, American Friends Service Committee, Kafue Self-help Housing Project, Zambia
    1972 September-October Special Mission to Rhodesia, with Eleanor Loft, on behalf of Friends Service Council, London, and American Friends Service Committee
    1974-1979 Special Representative, African Service Programs and International Programs, American Friends Service Committee
    1975 Consultant, American Friends Service Committee, Kafue Self-help Housing Project, Zambia
    1976 Attended Rhodesia Conference, held in Geneva, as member of Quaker Rhodesia Conference group

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The George Loft Papers, acquired in 2005, document the activities of Quaker activist Loft and his wife Eleanor in southern Africa from the late 1950s through the 1970s. Initially the Lofts were sent by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1958, where George Loft was appointed to be the AFSC's Special Representative for Sub-Saharan Africa, and was based in Salisbury (Harare), Southern Rhodesia.
    In this role, Loft served as an intermediary between the British colonial governments in that region and African nationalist leaders. In doing this, the AFSC hoped to foster non-violent social and political change in the region. During this period many African nationalist leaders were imprisoned, and as Loft visited them, he often brought books and news from the families of detainees, and sought to advocate on their behalf before government leaders. Much of the Correspondence dates from this period, and documents Loft's close contacts with government leaders such as Colonial Secretary Iain Macleod, former Southern Rhodesian Governor Garfield Todd, former Governor of Northern Rhodesia Sir Evelyn Hone, and Sir Robert Tredgold, Chief Justice of the Federation High Court. This series also contains correspondence with African nationalist leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda and Hastings K. Banda, who later were long-time presidents of the independent countries of Zambia and Malawi, respectively.
    Upon returning to the United States in 1960, Loft continued to work with the AFSC, initially as a full-time employee and later as a consultant on specific projects, most often related to southern Africa. The Subject File documents some of the specific projects and development programs that Loft was involved with in various parts of Africa, most notably in Zambia, where his friendship with President Kaunda and many of his governmental ministers stretched back to their time as detainees under the colonial government. Loft made several trips to Zambia as a consultant on an AFSC project to provide housing for urban squatters, and networked with a wide array of European aid organizations and foundations to obtain funding for such programs.
    During the 1970s, as the movement accelerated to bring about black majority rule in Rhodesia, Loft found himself drawn back to the country where he had earlier lived. Because of his connections with many nationalist leaders, such as Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, and a number of others, the AFSC sent him to Rhodesia in 1972 in the hope that his mediating influence could help bring the white minority government back to the negotiating table with these leaders. Loft joined a team of other Quakers from the U.S. and Britain at the Rhodesia Conference that was held in Geneva in 1976, and met informally with many of these leaders once again during the conference, hoping to help further a peaceful settlement that would lead to black majority rule. These activities are also documented in the Subject File.
    In addition, the Photographs contain color photographic slides made by Loft documenting his work in Africa, with the strongest representation being from the years 1959-1964, and also of aid and development projects in Zambia and in the West African country of Mali in the early to mid 1970s.


    Organized into three series: Correspondence, Subject File, and Photographs.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Technical assistance -- Africa
    Housing -- Zambia
    American Friends Service Committee