Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (JHIA) - An institute dedicated to preserving memory and promoting historical knowledge in Africa and its adjacent islands

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Dr Ralph E. S. Tanner, 1921-2017

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The Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (JHIA) received with sadness the news of the passing of Dr Ralph E. S. Tanner, which happened on August 1, 2017. Our thoughts extend to Mrs Amoret Tanner, who will be feeling the absence of Dr Tanner at this time in a very special way. We also think of David, Dr Tanner’s son, and the entire community of relatives and friends, who are touched by his passing. We wish them consolation and trust that their sense of loss will be mitigated by a genuine celebration of the late Dr Tanner’s achievements over the years.

The Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa will remain perpetually grateful to Dr Tanner for being one of the first persons who believed in our project of providing a cost-effective environment for ground-breaking research on the religious histories, cultures and traditions of the people of Africa and Madagascar. The aim was to put scholars in Africa on a par with those who are elsewhere in the world by helping them access records and rare publications on Africa that are otherwise available only in libraries in Europe and America. Dr Tanner did not only affirm the idea, but contributed books and other documents from his own collection, including his valuable lecture notes at Makerere (Uganda) and Nairobi (Kenya) in the 1960s. He even ensured that he obtained for the JHIA a copy of his entire Tanganyika diary, which he had already deposited in another library in the United Kingdom, and later on he made it a point to purchase for the institute old post cards that tell the story of Africa in late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

As we mourn the passing of Dr Tanner, we remain extremely grateful to him for his support. We are proud that he chose to make us custodians of at least a part of his lifetime collection, and we will continue to promote his memory, especially his own numerous publications, by preserving them carefully and making them accessible to the many researchers who visit our institute. 

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