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James Bruce archive

Call Number: MSS 68

Scope and Contents

The archive comprises original manuscript material concerning the travels of James Bruce of Kinnaird in North Africa and Ethiopia, from 1762 to 1774. Bruce (1730-1794) was originally posted as British consul-general at Algiers, though his diplomatic service concluded in 1765. Over the next 10 years, Bruce traveled in North Africa to document the antiquities, flora, and fauna of the region. Bruce then traveled to Ethiopia to document the source of the Nile. The bulk of material concerns Bruce's search for the source of the Nile and his records of Ethiopia's flora and fauna. Some portions also cover Bruce's diplomatic work and his travel and documentation of architectural antiquities in North Africa and Ethiopia.

The archive includes approximately 1,500 items, including correspondence, manuscript writings or notes, records, manuscript maps, volumes of diaries or day books, and an assortment of passports and other official documents.

Approximately 900 drawings by Luigi Balugani and James Bruce, formerly in the archive, have been transferred to the Department of Prints and Drawings at the the Yale Center for British Art. About 300 of the transferred drawings include significant textual annotations by Balugani.


  • ca. 1750-ca.1850.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is unprocessed and may not be available for immediate access.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is the physical property of the Yale Center for British Art. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection


60 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Guide to the James Bruce archive
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Center for British Art, Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts
1080 Chapel Street
P. O. Box 208280
New Haven CT 06520-8280 US


1080 Chapel Street
New Haven , CT 06510

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