Help Stirling to protect The Peter Mackay Archive

by University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom

We did it
On 24th January 2017 we successfully raised £8,100 with 64 supporters in 56 days

To catalogue and digitise the Peter Mackay Archive, an extremely important collection detailing the African Independence movement.

by University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom

 Project Background

Peter Mackay (1926-2013) was a key figure in the independence movements of Southern Africa. Born into a Scottish family with strong links to Stirling, Mackay served in the Scots Guards before emigrating to Rhodesia in 1948 where he devoted himself to the cause of African liberation. He then began to be involved in the African Independence movement in 1952 and was a great chronicler of this period of history until his death in 2013.

The Peter Mackay Archive provides a comprehensive record of a remarkable life. It is a fascinating record of Mackay’s involvement in the independence movements of a number of Southern African countries, including Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi).  Pictures and stories have already been found of Peter engaging with many of the key political figures in Africa.

The Archive

The Peter Mackay Archive arrived at Stirling University from his home in Zimbabwe in 2013. It was transported by his family, in 28 large crates, trunks and filing cabinets and had already survived a number of break-ins to his house. The archive provides a comprehensive record of Mackay’s journalism, political activism, travel, photography and charity work.

His journals, notebooks, correspondence and papers preserve a detailed account of his life as a writer and activist, while the large collection of photographs taken by Mackay during his travels around Southern Africa provide a stunning visual record of a continent during a period of great change.

Peter Mackay’s family had lived locally in the small town of Doune, and it was his wish that the University of Stirling became the custodians of this wonderful, important and unique archive.  Through this campaign, we want to ensure that the archive is opened up to as many people as possible, particularly in the areas of Africa such as Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe, where Peter had the most influence, and where most of the materials were collected.

Impact of the Project

The Peter Mackay Archive is a collection of international importance and has already attracted interest from academics and researchers from around the world. The fundraising project aims to open up the collection, through both its cataloguing and conservation, making the material available to use in our archives reading room, and through digitisation.

A key aim of our project is to make the archive accessible to scholars and students in Africa. This reflects Mackay’s own life-long commitment to liberating and developing his adopted African home. The archive documents Mackay’s activities and preserves a unique record of one individual’s political activism against a backdrop of the wider African communities he was part of.

Robert Mugabe and Yatuta Chisiza in isolation

The Archive documents Mackay’s political activism and would be of great interest to students of the histories of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia and Angola. It includes detailed records of Mackay’s journalistic career and full runs of a number of key publications relating to African independence.

The collection also includes a huge amount of material of interest to scholars of environmental history and economic development. The Archive also records Mackay’s work in later life working with charities, including Save the Children to support the impoverished communities in the remote district of Omay in northern Zimbabwe.

Project Outputs


With the support of your donation the University of Stirling, over a 12 month period the project aims to open up access to the archive through the following key outputs:

  • Re-packing of the collection in archival quality packaging and transfer to environmentally-controlled archive store for security and preservation.
  • Full cataloguing of the collection and addition of catalogue information to the public.
  • Digitisation of key resources contained in the collection to provide online access to material from the archive to researchers around the world, in particular, Southern Africa.
  • Development of a curated exhibition of the photographs archived and digitised, detailing the story of the independence movement

The ultimate outcome is for the digitised material to be made available through the JSTOR resource Struggles for Freedom, which has been made freely available to over 900 universities and colleges in Africa through JSTOR’s Africa Access initiative.  

The archive will be a major research resource for all students of African history and politics and for University students across the world.


This project has been approved for funding through the Heritage + The Crowd match funding. If this project reaches 75% of its initial target it will automatically receive the final 25% from Heritage Lottery Fund.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

A thank you. You will be added to our mailing list to receive regular updates about the archive from our Head Archivist, Karl Magee.

£25 or more

11 of 100 claimed

£25 Reward

An invite to the exclusive launch of the Peter Mackay exhibition to be held at the Macrobert Centre in Stirling.

£100 or more

4 of 30 claimed

£100 Reward

Have your name inscribed on a catalogued box of the archive.

£250 or more

0 of 10 claimed

£250 Reward

A limited-edition framed photograph of your choice taken from the Peter Mackay Archive.

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