Document ReferenceCOT
TitleCotton Research Corporation Library
Extentc. 5000 items
AbstractThe collection comprises a library of monographs, pamphlets and journals built up by the Cotton Research Corporation (1966-1976) and its precursors, the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation (1921-1965) and the British Cotton Growing Association (1902-1921).
Access ConditionsAccessible to all readers
Admin HistoryThe Cotton Research Corporation evolved from the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation, founded in 1921 by Royal Charter. The purpose of this body was to grow cotton in countries within the then British Empire, chiefly in Africa. It soon became apparent that in order to achieve this goal specialist knowledge and research was needed. Thus the Corporation abandoned its direct involvement in cotton growing projects and directed its attention toward research.

The Corporation gradually extended its area of interest to local farming systems and the crops associated with them.

Following the Second World War the Corporation's work was increasingly geared to the improvement of the agricultural economies of the producing countries. The Corporation became solely an instrument of development, a change in function which was formalised in 1966 by the change in name from the now British Cotton Growing Corporation to the Cotton Research Corporation. During the final ten years of its existence, the CRC acted as a British technical assistance organization charged with supplying information, advice and practical help on cotton growing to developing countries. It did this through a team of agricultural scientists in collaboration with overseas governments in research programmes.

In 1974 it became clear that the CRC was no longer financially viable and its overseas operations were wound down. It was formally dissolved in 1976.
Custodial HistoryThe Cotton Research Corporation Library came to Nottingham University Library from the Corporation and its agents in 1976 and 1978. The collection is closed, and no works will be added to it.
DescriptionThe Library of the Cotton Research Corporation contains c.1700 monographs and c.300 periodicals. They date from the beginning of the 20th century to the 1980s.
The Collection reflects the Corporation’s primary interest in all aspects of cotton cultivation. The publications focus mainly on scientific and economic research into cotton farming in Africa, notably Sudan, Nigeria, the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) and other former colonies in West Africa; Uganda and Kenya in East Africa, Nyasaland (modern Malawi), Northern Rhodesia (modern Zambia) Southern Rhodies/Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) and the Union of South Africa.
The library includes furthermore publications on cotton growing beyond Africa - in the West Indies, the Indian sub-continent, Australia and the Americas.

The authors are individual researchers and numerous corporations, ranging from the British Colonial Office, national agricultural societies in Britain and abroad, national scientific societies such as the Royal Entomological Society of London, to research and experimental stations located in the producing countries. The corporate authors published surveys, reports, yearbooks and conference proceedings which monitored developments in the cotton growing industry for most of the 20th century. Other industries beside cotton cultivation are also represented; the Library contains monographs on the commercial cultivation of peanuts, tobacco, sugar cane, jute, spice plants and on local trades such as the fishing trade. This literature was relevant to the Corporation because revenues from alternative crops could outcompete cotton and cause slumps in the cotton supply from African countries which the Corporation sought to sustain. The Empire Cotton Growing Corporation’s non-governmental predecessor, the British Cotton Growing Association (1902-1921), had pursued this proactively to the extent of paying African farmers market rates, particularly after the First World War, when worldwide cotton prices slumped, to ensure growers did not change to growing crops other than cotton. Cash incentives were another policy used to persuade African farmers to grow crops of high-quality long-staple cotton which were in demand in Lancashire.

On location in the colonies the British Cotton Growing Association had encouraged British Government investment in infrastructure projects likely to benefit cotton production, such as roads, railways and irrigation works, including the Sennar Dam in the Sudan and the expansion of Nigerian Railways. Thus, it laid the groundwork for its successor, the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation, which focused increasingly on development. Monographs about local infrastructural development concerning transport, public health, housing and welfare are consistent with the historic agency of the Cotton Research Corporation Library.

A substantial part of the Library is dedicated to the study of diseases and pests affecting the cotton crop-plant and of soil conditions and irrigation in the relevant environments. For scientific purposes the publications are often illustrated with photographs and other graphic material. These vary in production value but have potentially high documentary value as they capture landscape, agricultural workers and farming conditions in former British and other colonies throughout the 20th century. The information value of images from publications which are primarily focused on agronomic processes holds further interest for interdisciplinary research, the most obvious being postcolonial history.

There are many noteworthy and well-illustrated volumes such as Sir Andrew Balfour’s ‘Fourth report of the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories at the Gordon Memorial College, Khartoum’ published in London 1911 for the Department of Education of the Sudan Government containing illustrated chapters on the societies, customs and particularly medicine and natural history of Sudan; the ‘Report of the mission to Lake Tana, 1920-1921’ by G.W. Grabham and R.P. Black published in Cairo 1925 by the Government Press, which documents an expedition to the source of the Nile in Ethiopia, complete with photographs and maps; ‘The Nigeria handbook : containing statistical and general information respecting the colony and protectorate’ compiled in the Chief Secretary's Office, Lagos, the 7th edition published in 1926, an edition also illustrated with photographs and including various advertisements by colonial outfitters. Closely mapped to the history of the Corporation is the ‘Official report of the visit of the delegation of the International Federation of Master Cotton Spinners' and Manufacturers' Associations to Egypt, October-November, 1912 and report by the secretary on his subsequent tour in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, November-December, 1912’, a richly illustrated document of its time prefaced by the Governor-General of Sudan, Sir Francis Reginald Wingate

For postcolonial studies the collection can be researched as a bank of documents from various stages of colonial rule and decolonisation. The CRCL contains foundational texts of British colonialism in Africa such as a first edition of ‘The dual mandate in British tropical Africa’ published in 1922 by Baron Frederick Lugard, then governor of Nigeria, as well as commissioned publications of the British Colonial Office, such as the 1924 command paper ‘Private enterprise in British Tropical Africa: report of the Committee appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to consider and report whether, and if so what, measures could be taken to encourage Private Enterprise in the development of the British Dependencies in East and West Tropical Africa, with special reference to Existing and Projected Schemes of Transportation’; the postwar study ‘African Education: a study of educational policy and practice in British Tropical Africa"’, jointly sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation and the Colonial Office, which led to a Conference at Cambridge in September 1952 with proceedings published by the Oxford University Press.
MgtGroupPrinted Book Collections
MgtSubGroupResearch and development bodies
ArrangementThe collection is arranged according to the Library of Congress classification.
Cotton growing - Africa - 20th century
Cotton growing - India - 20th century
Cotton - diseases and pests
FindingAidsThe collection is catalogued on the University of Nottingham's library catalogue NUsearch ( To browse the Collection, enter the search term COT (the code for Cotton Research Corporation Library) into the main search box and select to search within the Library Catalogue only.
ReprodnNoteReprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.
ConditionVaries, some good, some fragile bindings.
Related MaterialPapers of the Cotton Research Corporation, 1921-1976 (CRC)
Related RecordCRC
Publication NoteA brief history of the British Cotton Growing Association is available online at

Click the links below to view related name indexes

CodePersonNameDates of existence
NA185Cotton Research Corporation, London
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