Project VOICES – Digital Humanities

District Commissioner in Pemba, Zanzibar

In the mid 20th century 20,000 colonial officers were involved in the institutional reforms which were intended to prepare the colonies for their independence. What exactly did they do?

Project VOICES collects and preserves the biographical histories and documents of former colonial officers who are alive today.

Biographical interviews with retired colonial officers have begun in 2016. So far, 108  interviews have been conducted. The interviews will continue until the end of 2018.
Click here for an audio sample.

Retired colonial officers have submitted a large amount of colonial records, photos and personal documents with requests to publish their documents. Likewise, the former Overseas Service Pensioners’ Association (OSPA) has recently donated a comprehensive collection of documents. In the following years the material will be cataloged, digitized and prepared for online publication. 
Click here for samples of submitted documents

Together with the series of biographical interviews, the future digital collection will promote scholarly research in economic development and to serve as a unique historic record for the one of the largest international organizations of the 20th century. If you are a retired overseas officer and you want take part in the interviews or you want to contribute documents, please contact us at

While project VOICES is not part of a research grant nor funded by a university, I am thankful for the institutional support from the University of Vienna and from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital History. The Beit Trust has generously covered the costs of interviews with former officers from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.