Scope and Contents
The collection consists of material about the Church of Scotland mission in Kenya, about Kikuyu language and culture, and about the interests and concerns of Africans and their relation to the government. In particular it includes: Barlow's comments on and additions to theKikuyu-English Dictionaryby L.J. Beecher and G.S.B. Beecher (including volumes of the 1935 dictionary with Barlow's handwritten amendments) with correspondence (1956-1962) about the publication of a revised version; Barlow's notes and personal volumes on the Kikuyu language, songs, music, customs and idioms; minutes and constitution of the United Kikuyu Language Committee (1908-1917); letters from Barlow to his father (1904-1905) and personal items such as testimonials and correspondence about his retirement and later return to Kenya; correspondence and other items relating to David C. Scott's estate at Kiambu; correspondence, reports, pamphlets and papers produced by and about the missions at Kikuyu and Tumutumu and from the Church of Scotland's Foreign Missionary Council; notes on the history of the mission in East Africa; papers on the Kenyan Mission Council and the proposed federation of mission societies; material on African affairs such as the Indian question, Harry Thuka, the Labour Bureau Commission, land tenure, the Kikuyu Association, female circumcision, and education; papers concerning the Mau Mau rebellion including Barlow's translation of Kikuyu documents; a manifesto of the Kenyan African National Union (1960); press cuttings; and photographs (1904-1915) relating to Kenya and in particular to the missions at Kikuyu and Tumutumu.
Language of Materials
English, Kikuyu or Gikuyu.
Conditions Governing Access
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
Conditions Governing Use
Contact the repository for details.
Biographical / Historical
Arthur Ruffell Barlow, Church of Scotland missionary and linguist, was born in Edinburgh in 1888. He was the nephew of David Clement Ruffell Scott, a Church of Scotland missionary in Malawi and Kenya. In 1903 at the age of seventeen Barlow joined his uncle at Scott's mission at Kikuyu, British East Africa (Kenya). He assisted with the mission's work in an unofficial capacity until 1908 when he was formally employed by the Church of Scotland. His interest in and grasp of the Kikuyu language and dialects meant he was often employed as a translator and his intimate knowledge of the Kikuyu people made him a trusted counsellor. He was a good friend of Jomo Kenyatta when both were young. In 1909 he became the first resident missionary at Tumutumu and acted, at various times, as superintendent at both Kikuyu and Tumutumu. He was one of the founders of the Kenya Missionary Council and acted as its secretary for a number of years as well as playing a prominent role in the debate on church and mission union in Kenya. Barlow's work with the Kikuyu language continued, he prepared a grammar which became a standard and initiated a bible translation. His knowledge of the language and culture and interest in questions such as land reform and the rights of Africans meant that he was also often consulted on African matters by government. After he retired on 30 June 1941 he continued his linguistic and translation studies, at first working for two years under an arrangement with the Church of Scotland. He publishedStudies in Kikuyu Grammar and Idiomin 1951 which followed an earlier 'tentative' work in 1946. He returned to Kenya from Scotland during the Mau Mau troubles and in 1953 took the role of Officer in Charge of the Translation Bureau of the African Information Services. He left Kenya for the final time in 1959. Barlow devoted a large amount of time in his later years to the production of a Kikuyu-English dictionary on which he worked with Canon Henry Leakey and Leonard Beecher, both of the Church Missionary Society. The dictionary was finally published in 1964 and Barlow died in 1965.
2 boxes, 1 file, 6 volumes.