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A Guide to the George Fortune Collection

Finding aid created by Danielle Altman and Dan Reboussin

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
March 2007

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Fortune, G. (George), 1915-
Title: George Fortune Collection
Dates: 1869-1986
Bulk dates: 1940-1986
Abstract: Primarily contains material pertaining to George Fortune's teaching and research concerning African linguistics, particularly Southern Bantu linguistic groups.
Extent: 2.75 Linear feet. 7 boxes.
Identification: MS Group 205
Language(s): Materials are written in English, Bantu, Shona, Swahili, nde, Portuguese and other African languages.
Online Content Items from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

Professor George Fortune was born on July 31, 1915 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia). After receiving a Ph.D. in Bantu Languages from the University of Cape Town in 1950, Fortune was appointed lecturer within that Department. In 1962, he became the first chair of the Department of African Languages at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now the Department of African Languages and Literatures at the University of Zimbabwe), a position which he retained until 1980. He passed away on October 17, 2012.

Professor Fortune conducted extensive research and wrote widely on Central and Southern African languages for over fifty years. His writings concerning the Shona language were crucial to the development of a standard Shona orthography, and texts such as Elements of Shona are regarded as canonical. Fortune also played a key role in establishing African linguistics as a field of study at African universities. Later in his career, Professor Fortune became very much involved in supporting the publication of Shona literature, such as praise poetry, modern poetry, and traditional stories (see Hodza and Fortune 1979, Fortune 1980). Fortune made an important contribution to the advancement and recognition of vernacular Shona literature, and worked extensively with several writers, such as A.C. Hodza and J.C. Kumbirai, who published with the Southern Rhodesia African Literature Bureau.

Scope and Content

Including monographs, journals, unpublished manuscripts, reprints, typewritten and handwritten notes, notebooks, teaching and administrative papers, news clippings, ephemera, and a limited amount of correspondence, this collection is mostly composed of papers connected with Fortune's research and teaching concerning African linguistics.

The collection primarily contains material pertaining to Fortune's research into Southern Bantu linguistic groups. Included are tape recordings, and large bound notebooks of notes and tape transcripts, which detail African stories and songs (in their original language and English translation). Fortune and his colleagues collected and recorded these materials while carrying out fieldwork and interviews in mid-twentieth century Africa. Other noteworthy pieces of the collection include unpublished manuscripts by the Zimbabwean poet and scholar J.C. Kumbirai; a handwritten and bound (original?) copy of Hugh Tracey's classic text Ngoma; and a photograph and negative of A.C. Jordan.

Materials concerning Shona language and culture are particularly well represented in the collection, including extensive notes and writings concerning Shona dialects, phonetics, stories, and songs. The papers include both Shona and English language materials, with Shona writings often accompanied by English translations. The collection also encompasses Rhodesian news clippings and ephemera.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

Published materials from the Fortune Collection are listed at and accessible through the library catalog.

Administrative Information

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in the Fortune collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], George Fortune Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Processing Notes

In 2008 the audio cassette tape field recordings of folktales (box 7) were digitized, and the recordings are available in digital format on DVD. A list of the audio files accompanies the DVD and an inventory of the recordings is available online.

Contents List

Writings by Various Authors, 1869-1982 and Not dated

Includes unpublished manuscripts, article reprints, monographs, conference papers, occasional papers, notes, miscellaneous papers, and lectures by various authors. Some writings are accompanied by notes and correspondence.

1 Abdallah, Yohanna B. (compiled by) and Meredith Sanderson (arranged, edited, and translated by). "The Yaos". 1919
1 Alves, Albano (Father). Maphembero a Akristau a Romano. Braga: Missoes Franciscanas. 1939
1 Carter, Hazel. "African Languages in Schools." Book review reprint. Africa. 1965 April
1 Chilmobo, A. "The Universities Mission to Central Africa". 1957
1 Cole, Desmond T. "Southern Sotho Phonology," "Southern Sotho Morphology," and "Problems in African Linguistics". 1960
1 Dill, A.W. "Rurimi Rwedu Rwechishona" (Shona). Includes handwritten notes and correspondence between Dill and Fortune. 1963
1 Doke, Clement M. "The Problem of Word Division in Bantu: With Special Reference to the Languages of Mashonaland." Occassional paper no. 2, Department of Native Development, Southern Rhodesia. 1929
1 Doke, Clement M. Bantu Language Pioneers of the Nineteenth Century. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand Press (Reprinted from Bantu Studies, September 1940). 1940
1 Field, Annis S. "Tales of Some Northeastern Rhodesian Tribes." Trans. H. Zulu (R.L.M). Not dated
1 Gray, Douglas. "Stories of the Ancient Lore of the Bene-Mukuni.". 1961
1 Haasbrook, J. "English Commentary on Shona Love Poetry". 1977
1 Hendrikse, A.P. "The Explanatory Power of the Feature (Referential) in a Grammar of Xhosa". Not dated
1 Ikacana, N.S. "The History of the Makwanga." Trans. By H. Zulu (R.L.M.). Not dated
1 Kaemmer, John E. "Between the Event and the Tradition: A New Look at Music in Sociocultural Systems." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the Society of Ethnomusicology. 1974 November 2
1 Kazembe, Mwata (XIV). "History of the Luapula Luunda." With the assistance of E. Labrecque, (W.F.) translated from the Bemba with a foreword by Ian Cunnison. Not dated
1 Kolbe, (Rev.) F.W. The Vowels: Their Primeval Laws and Bearing upon the Formation of Roots in Herero, a Dialect of South-West Africa. J.C. Juta: Cape Town. 1869
1 Kumbirai, J.C. "Five Lectures on Shona Traditional Poetry and Song". 1968
1 Kumbirai, J.C. "Ngano as Material for both Cultural and Literary Study". 1978
1 Kumbirai, J.C. "The African and His Way of Life with Special Reference to Kinship and Good Neighborliness". 1978
1 Kumbirai, J.C. Miscellaneous lectures, Shona culture. 1979
1 Kumbirai, J.C. Mhururu yeZimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe. 1980
1 Kumbirai, J.C. Miscellaneous papers relating to Shona poetry. 1982 and not dated
1 Kumbirai, J.C. "Shona Bible Translation: The Work of the Rev. Michael Hannan S.J.". Not dated
1 Kumbirai, J.C. "Nhoroondo yehurukuro yeVayeraSoko Chinamhora" (Shona). Not dated
1 Kumbirai, J.C. "Notes for an Edited Volume of African Literature". Not dated
1 Labrecque, E. (W.F.). "The Mwata Kazembes: A Summary of the History of the Lunda in Luapula Valley. 1947
1 Labrecque, E. (W.F.). "Fishing and Hunting Customs of the Luapula Mweru People". Not dated
1 Manyando, P. "Lozi Craftmanship". Not dated
1 Mathabela, E. "Sabela Zulu: A Zulu Praise Poem." Zulu, and English trans. By A.T. Cope. Not dated
1 Mpashi, Stephen A. "The White Fathers Reach the BaBemba." Trans. L.M.A. Simukonde. 1955
1 Mulsnda, Cungu (Chief), and other African Elders. "History of the Bena-Ng'oma." Assisted by E. Labrecque (W.F.). Translated from the Bemba by H.J. Nyirenda. 1946
1 Mupatu, Y.W. Untitled manuscript about Barotseland. Not dated
1 Mwale, E.B. "About the Cewa: The History and Customs of the Cewa People". Not dated
1 Nakumbi, Archibald J. "Funerals and Customs of the Cewa." Trans. H. Zulu (R.L.M). Not dated
2 Ntabeni, M.G. Package of typescripts and notes titled "Zulu and Ndebele Texts". Not dated
2 Rycroft, David. Package of 5 manuscripts, with notes. 1975-1980
2 Setiloane, G. "How the Traditional World-View Persists in the Christianity of the Sotho." Pula (1):1. 1978
2 Silanda, H.E. "The Enslavement of Grandmother Mary." Trans. L.H.A. Simukonda. Not dated
2 Soka, L. Daniel. "The History of the Lomwe". Not dated
2 Stevick, Earl W. "Phonology of Manyika Syllables" and "The Substantive Paradigms of Manyika". Not dated
2 Style, O-Lan and Colin Style (Eds.) Rhodesian Poets: A Selection of Contemporary Rhodesian Poetry. Edinburgh Press: Salisbury, Rhodesia. 1968
2 Summers, Roger. "The Dating of the Zimbabwe Ruins." Antiquity, June 1955. "Iron Age Culture of Southern Rhodesia." South African Journal of Science, November 1950. Reprints. Includes letter from Summers to Fortune, February 1956. 1950-1956
2 Syaamusonde, J. "Naayko". 1945
2 Tracey, Hugh. "Ngoma." Bound and handwritten (original copy?). Includes 1973 correspondence. 1973 and not dated
2 Van der Merwe, W.J. (Rev.). Shona Idea of God. Morgenster Mission Press: Fort Victoria. 1957
2 Wilson, Anna. "Preliminary Notes on the Mihavami (Lomwe) Language." Includes letter from Wilson to Fortune. 1961 and not dated
3 Various authors. "Some Notes on Shona Oral Literature." By members of the Department of African Languages, University of Rhodesia. 1970
3 No author. N'Ano ne Nano: Karanga Progressive Reading and Writing Handbook. Jesuit Mission Chishawasha: Marianhill Mission. 1921
3 No author. One-Hundred-and-Sixty-One Key Swahili Words and How to Use Them. Salama Publishers: Nairobi, Kenya. 1971
3 No author. "On the Nature of Language and Some Aspects of Sociolinguistic Behavior". 1978
3 No author. "What is Your Clan?". Not dated
3 No author. "How the Lunda Chiefs Came from the Capital of Luweji a Nkondi" and "Chedikiluwu Anyata awaLunda Mung'anda ya Luweji Ankondi" (Lunda) by Chief Ikelengi". Not dated
3 No author. "Gramatica Lomue." (Portuguese). Photocopy. Not dated

Writings by George Fortune, 1953-1979 and Not dated

Includes unpublished manuscripts, drafts of published works, and article reprints by George Fortune. Some writings are accompanied by notes and correspondence.

3 Fortune, George. "The Parts of Speech in Bantu." Reprint and typescript, with letter and comments by Desmond Cole. 1953
3 Fortune, George. "Soko Risina Musoro." Book review, reprint and typescript. 1958?
3 Fortune, George. Elements of Shona. Longman: Salisbury, Rhodesia. 1967
3 Fortune, George. "Transitivity in Shona." Typewritten, 3 drafts. 1973?
3 Fortune, George. "Conversational Shona." Two copies, typewritten and handwritten. 1979
3 Fortune, George. "A Companion to Elements of Shona." Handwritten notes. Not dated
3 Fortune, George. "Tswana Grammar." Typewritten. Not dated
3 Fortune, George. "Shona Marriage Regulations." Handwritten, with typewritten notes. Not dated

Teaching and Administrative Papers, 1929-1984 and Not dated

Includes correspondence, student exam and exercise books, lecture notes and syllabi, university administrative reports and meetings minutes, and a map.

4 Correspondence. 1929-1984 and not dated
4 Student exam books, Shona topics. 1953
4 Student exercise books, Bantu word structure, Bemba, and Tonga topics. 1946-1952
4 Administrative materials, syllabi, and lecture notes, University of Edinburgh, Department of Linguistics. 1979-1980 and not dated
4 Map and projector slide, "Language Families of Africa". Not dated
4 Administrative report and letter pertaining to D.F. Gowlett's MA thesis. 1967, 1970
4 Miscellaneous meeting minutes. 1947, 1954, 1980
4 Chindau lessons and exercises.

Research Materials, 1929-1986 and Not dated

Includes tapes, tape transcripts, notebooks, and notes of African stories and songs that were collected in Southern and Central Africa by Fortune and his colleagues; Fortune's notebooks and notes pertaining to his work on Shona linguistics; notes, news clippings, and ephemera concerning Shona language and Rhodesia; and scholarly journals.

4 Three notebooks, Shona phonetics and Bantu word stems. Not dated
4 Tape transcripts, Shona stories and songs. Not dated
5 Catechisms in Ndebele Language (2 items). Circa 1900
5 Notes and news clippings, Shona topics. 1972, 1979 and not dated
5 Notes and ephemera, Rhodesian topics. 1929-1934, 1970-1976
5 Notebook of African stories, transcribed by various authors and with English translations. Not dated
5 African stories, typescripts. Not dated
5 Reprints of book reviews. 1956-1960 and not dated
5 Photo and negative of A.C. Jordan, and a newspaper article authored by Jordan. 1961 and not dated
5 Notes, handwritten. Not dated
5 Miscellaneous ephemera, news clippings, and notes. 1940-1986
5 "Shona Dialects and the Development of Standard Shona." Bound collection of typewritten notes. Not dated
5 Bulletin of the Language Association of Tanzania. 1968 December
5 Chrimo: A Rhodesian and International Journal of the Humanities, 2 (1). Includes Chirimo festival leaflet. 1969-1970
5 Photograph of Clement Martyn Doke. Not dated
6 Bound volume of tape transcripts of Shona stories and songs. Collected by George Fortune and K.G. Mkanganwi (?). Stories and songs in Shona, but with English introduction and exposition. Not dated
6 Lingua: Linguistic Journal of the University of Cape Town 1 (5). 1948 September
6 Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 74(6). 1974 January
6 Ethnomusicology: Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, 20 (3). 1976 September
6 Teachers Forum 4 (10). 1977 October
6 Channel: The Official Organ of the Zimbabwe Artists and Writers Association. Volume 1. 1980 March
7 Tape recordings of folktales, made during field research conducted for Ngano. Includes digital reproductions of the recordings on DVD. For more information, consult the recordings inventory. Not dated (circa 1974)

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

African languages -- Study and teaching.
Bantu languages.
Shona language -- Grammar.
Shona language -- Orthography and spelling.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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