“One hopes that Peter’s own papers will become available”

Terence Ranger, 2008


Peter Mackay (1926-2013) was a key figure in the independence movements of several southern African countries. Born into a Scottish family with strong links to Doune, Mackay served in the Scots Guards before emigrating to Southern Rhodesia in 1948 where he quickly skated over tobacco farming and found his true calling in journalism and the cause of African liberation.

The archive contains a comprehensive record of Mackay’s journalism, political activism, travel, photography and charitable 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 provides a stunning visual record of a continent during a period of great change.

The collection documents Mackay’s contribution to the independence movements of a number of Southern African countries including Nyasaland / Malawi, Southern Rhodesia / Zimbabwe, Northern Rhodesia / Zambia, South Africa, Namibia and Angola. Also present is material relating to his work as a journalist and editor on a number of publications including Concord, Tsopano, Malawi News and A Portrait of Malawi, a book produced to celebrate Malawi’s independence.

In 2014 Mackay’s nephew Rupert Connell arranged for the transport of his papers from Zimbabwe to the University of Stirling. The University Archives is delighted to add the Peter Mackay Archive – a staggeringly unique resource which provides a comprehensive record of a remarkable life – to our collections. 

The Mackay Archive is a collection of international importance and has already attracted interest from academics and researchers from around the world. As such we launched a crowdfunding project earlier this year to enable us to digitise as much of this valuable resource as possible. The response we had was wonderfully generous and the subsequent successful completion of this round of fund-raising has seen the project through to its current stage.

In this blog we will be sharing with you some of the treasures uncovered during the period of cataloguing and conservation as we ready the collection for digitisation. We’ll be highlighting some of the fascinating resources available in the archive and uncovering much about a deliberately obscure but key figure in African history.

To discuss the collection further or to arrange an appointment to look at any of the materials yourself, don’t hesitate to email us at archives@stir.ac.uk