SOAS University of London

SOAS Centenary

SOAS Centenary Timeline: tell us why SOAS matters

In June 2016, SOAS begins a year (actually, 13 months!) of events and activities to mark 100 years of excellence in research and teaching. 

The digital Centenary Timeline has been created to highlight the School's history, people and collections. Explore the Centenary Timeline to find out about the people and events that have played an important role in making the School what it is today.

The digital Centenary Timeline complements a 4-metre poster (see image below) on display in the SCR. This was created in 2009 to engage our Honorary Fellows and Graduates with SOAS’ history, its people and collections. It includes some fascinating images and stories based on photographs discovered at the time in the archives. 

There is so much more to SOAS’ story and we need your help to build a fuller picture - the SOAS community is invited to suggest seminal research and teaching achievements and events in the School’s history and pay tribute to the people who have pushed the boundaries of academic thought and made an impact on the world.

Your ideas, suggestions, articles and images will also be put forward to the curators of the ‘100 years of SOAS’ exhibition to be considered for inclusion.  A range of submissions will also be carried on these pages and the centenary blog.

Please email your submissions to

Timeline created in 2009
The 4-metre poster on display in the SOAS SCR

Gambian artist's work recorded in 1970s

Amadu Basang Jobarteh

Amadu Basang Jobarteh, musician and story teller from the Manding peoples of Gambia, was acknowledged as the master Kora player of his generation.

Dr Anthony King of SOAS’ Africa Department made many recordings of musical performance in the Gambia in 1970 when the kora - a 21-string harp - was unknown in the West.  The British Library holds the entire collection of audio recordings made by Dr King, who played a significant part in enabling Jobarteh and fellow kora players to reach a worldwide audience.

SOAS Archives and Special Collections

Movement for Colonial Freedom annual report 1960/1

Throughout the School's history, SOAS Archives and Special Collections has amassed a wealth of material broadly reflecting the British interaction with Africa and Asia over the last 250 years. Collections include archives of missionary societies, NGOs and campaign groups, and business organisations, as well as papers of individuals, including diplomats, campaigners, and academics.

The archives of the Movement for Colonial Freedom are maintained by SOAS. The Movement for Colonial Freedom was a political civil rights advocacy group founded in the United Kingdom in 1954. In 1970 the Movement was renamed Liberation. 

Eve D Edwards, Professor of Chinese

Eve D Edwards, Professor of Chinese
Professor Evangeline D Edwards (1888 - 1957) was one of the first female professors at SOAS. After studying Chinese in China, she joined the then School Of Oriental Studies in 1921, becoming Professor of Chinese in 1939. Publications included Chinese prose and literature of the T'ang period (2 vols, London 1937-38), Confucius (1940), and two anthologies. A dedicated teacher, at the end of the Second World War she visited the Far East, South East Asia and Pacific to follow up those in the armed services who had received training from the School. Her papers are held by Archives and Special Collections.

Pioneering the study of African History

Pioneering study of Africa in UK pics

SOAS played a pivotal role in establishing African history as a distinct field of scholarship. Though the School had been founded to prepare officials for postings in Britain's colonies, its Africa-related research and teaching broadened quickly, producing a step-change in critical approaches to the Continent and its past. Find out more.

SOAS Centenary Blog