Book Reviews

Anaba A. Alemna

Historical Dictionary of Ghana. By David Owusu–Ansah and Daniel Miles McFarland. Second edition. Metuchen,N.J.: Scarecrow, 1995. 477 p., ISBNO–8108–2929–3. $52.50.

As the editor rightly observes in his foreword, the new edition of this historical dictionary, first published in 1985, appears at an opportune time. Ghana has experienced a number of turbulent years—economically, socially, politically — since independence, but particularly in the past quarter of a century. Most of these events are documented in the Dictionary.

The introduction to the work provides a brief description of the country — taking into account its geography, politics, and economy. Three illustrations are provided in this section. Before the introduction, the authors provide a five page list of abbreviations and acronyms used in the book. There follows a 35–page chronology of the country, extending from the first inhabitants to the latest political events.

The main dictionary comprises a collection of entries on various personali ties and crucial events in Ghana’s history. Accompanying annotations explain each entry’s significance in the social, cultural, political, educational, or economic development of the country. The main work is followed by an extensive bibliography, which I consider equally informative. The bibliography spans 31 pages and is arranged in 19 sections, namely Bibliographies and Guides; General Information; Serials; Government Publications; Archaeology; General History; History Before 1840; History 1840–1956: Colonialism History Since Independence; Regional Studies; Travel; Geography; Arts: Literature and Press; Language; Culture and Social Life; Economics; Religion and Philosophy; and Education.

The work contains two appendices. Appendix A lists British Administrators of the Gold Coast; Appendix B cites Ghanaian leaders from 1951. Both add to the usefulness of the Historical Dictionary.

A few omissions should be brought to the attention of the compilers. In the main dictionary, the authors do not list Ghana’s fourth university — the University for Development Studies. This university was established in 1992; the main campus is at Tamale in the Northern Region. In the section on Bibliographies and Guides, the authors list S.N. Amanquah’s A Bibliography of University of Ghana Staff Publications, 1948–1973, but do not cite the supplement for the years 1974–1986.

The major omission in this work, however, is the lack of index. An index would be useful for researchers, as it would make checking for information by subject or author easier.

Historical Dictionary of Ghana is certainly an important reference tool and a welcome addition to the literature on Ghana. The quality of printing and binding is excellent.

floral device About the Author

Anaba A. Alemna is Associate Professor, Department of Library and Archival Studies, University of Ghana. He has an M.A.L.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His publications include three books and about 50 articles. Dr. Alemna’s professional interests include management, information technology, and library education.

© 1995 Anaba A. Alemna.


Alemna, Anaba A., “Review of Historical Dictionary of Ghana, by David Owusu–Ansah and Daniel Miles McFarland,” Third World Libraries, Volume 6, Number 1 (Fall 1995).