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Literature on the History of East Africa
Ethiopia Djibouti
First posted on July 2nd 2002, last revised on November 15th 2013






History of Eritrea : Narrative . References : Online Secondary Sources . Online Primary Sources . Bibliographic and Print Sources



NARRATIVE
1882-1922 . 1922-1941 . 1941-1952 . 1952-1962 . 1962-1991 . Since 1991


Colony of Liberal Italy, 1882-1922
In 1869-1880, the Rubattino Navigation Company acquired coastal stretches near Assab. In 1882, these were transferred to the Italian state, who proclaimed the Colonia di Asseb. The murder of the travellers Giuletti (1881) and Bianchi (1883) provided the excuse for Italian military occupation; the British, facing the Mahdiyya in the Sudan, welcomed the Italian occupation of the Red Sea shore. In 1885, Italy acquired the Ottoman-Egyptian 'Habesh'; the capital was established at Massawa, occupied by Italian troops in 1885. Italy found herself in an open conflict with Abyssinia (Ethiopia); in 1887 the Abyssinians destroyed an Italian column at Dogali. In 1889 - the Ethiopians were distracted by a Mahdiyya attack on Gondar - Italian forces occupied Asmara and the surrounding highland. The war was ended in a pact of amity and alliance in 1889.
In 1890, the area was declared the Colony of Eritrea. In 1896, the Italians attempted to conquer Ethiopia, but were defeated in the Battle of Adowa. In 1897, the capital of Eritrea was moved to Asmara. The southern borders of Eritrea were fixed by treaty in 1904. From 1890 to 1893 and from 1894 to 1897 the Italians held the city of Kassala in Eastern Sudan.
In 1894 the Apostolic Prefecture of Eritrea was created and entrusted to the Capuchins.
Italian settlers came into the country; the economy began to shift from self-sufficiency to export-oriented. The Italians, by building roads and railway lines (Massaua-Asmara, begun in 1888, completed in 1911), developed the infrastructure.
Improved sanitary conditions and medical facilities contributed to an accelerated population growth. In 1904 the area of Eritrea was given as 247,000 square km, the population as 330,000. At that time the railway, gauge width 1 m, starting at Massawa, had reached Guinda (77km).
In 1921, Massaua was devastated by an earthquake.


Colony of Fascist Italy, 1922-1941
In 1922, Mussolini formed a government in Italy and gradually transformed the country's multiparty democracy into a fascist dictatorship. The fascist government emphasized colonial policy; Italian immigration and infrastructure projects continued.
In 1929 the population was estimated at 405,000, mostly negroes of either christian (Coptic) or Muslim faith. There was also a Jewish community (described as of Arab origin), as well as small communities of Parsees and even Buddhists (ethnic Banians and Indians). A number of missionary societies were active in the colony, among them the Lazarists (Cath.) and the Evangeliska Fosterlands Stiftelsen of Stockholm (Prot.).
The native population thrived mostly on a pastoral economy (goats, cattle) and irrigation-based agriculture. The highland, with its more favourable climate, had a higher population density. The Italians experimented with growing coffee and cotton (as these were major import items). Camels played a role in domestic transportation. A potassium mine was operated in Dancalia, the exports of which went to Japan. Various gold mines had been abandoned due to a number of problems.A saline was operated near Massaua, another as Assab, the production of which was exported to India. Trepang was exported to China. Pearl fishing was of some importance, the export volume varying strongly from year to year.
The combined value of exports was on average about double than that of imports; in both, Italy was the dominant trading partner of her colony, accounting for 56-70 % of the total. Major import products were cotton textiles and yarn, metals and machinery, coffee. Major export items included coffee, hides.
The colony was administrated by a governor who was assisted by a Consiglio di Amministrazione. Elementary schools were administrated by the Catholic and the Swedish mission; Asmara had a technical school and a commercial school.

In 1935, Italian troops from Eritrea and Somalia invaded Ethiopia; in the following year, the conquest was completed. Now, the larger colony of Italian Eastern Africa was formed, of which Eritrea formed a province.

British Military Administration, 1941-1952
In June 1940, under the impression of Germany's quick victory over France, Italy entered World War II on Germany's side. Italian forces occupied British Somaliland. In 1941, the British launched a counteroffensive, from Kenya, Sudan and Aden. The Italian forces surrendered that year; Italian Eastern Africa, and with it Eritrea, came inder British military administration (BMA).
In Ethiopia, Negus Haile Selassie (ousted by the Italians in 1936; he had stayed in exile in London 1936-1941) returned to power. He pushed for Eritrea to be annexed to Ethiopia, to give the landlocked country access to the sea. The idea was welcomed by Eritrea's christian clergy. In 1952, the UN (Britain held Eritrea only as a mandate) decided that Eritrea and Ethiopia should be federated; the federation became fact in 1952; Eritrea became an autonomous region within the Empire of Ethiopia.

Autonomy within Ethiopia, 1952-1962
In 1952, Eritrea's young parliament had passed a constitution. Thee were two official languages, Tigrinya (used by the christians) and Arabic (used by the Muslims); as far as public offices were concerned, a parity between Muslims and Christians was envisaged.
Ethiopia never intended to stick to the conditions of the federation. Arabic was eliminated as a language of administration and education, Muslims expelled from official positions, political parties outlawed (1955). In 1962, when the federal status of Eritrea was officially cancelled, it was already a dead letter.

Resistance against Ethiopian Rule, 1962-1991
In 1962, the Eritrean Liberation Front was formed and armed resistance against Ethiopian rule began. The ELS soon was joined by a second organization, the EPLF (Er. People's Lib. Front). During the early 1970es, both organizations controlled much of countryside Eritrea. The EPLF, because of it's socialist ideology, received aid from socialist countries.
When Mengistu Haile Mariam toppled Negus Haile Selassie in 1975, Ethiopia switched from a western ally to a Soviet satellite. The Soviet Union now massively supported the regime in Addis Ababa, and Soviet aid to the EPLF as well as to the Somali enemies of Ethiopia dried up. Now armed with modern Soviet equipment, the Ethiopians expanded the territory under their control at the expense of the independence fighters.
In 1980, a conflict arose between EPLF and ELF, and the EPLF eliminated their competitors. Over time, the EPLF regained control of most of countryside Eritrea, the Ethiopians reduced to the major cities. With the end of the Cold War, it was now Ethiopia that suffered from suddenly withdrawn aid. The Ethiopian garrisons in Massawa and Asmara suffered siege; Ethiopia experienced rebellions in other parts of the country. The fall of the Mengistu regime in 1991 resulted in the de facto independence of Eritrea, although it took more time until the country received international recognition.

Independence, since 1991
By 1991, Eritrea had achieved de facto independence, without outside help. In 1993, a referendum was held; the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of independence, which was proclaimed. Isaias Afwerki became the country's first president.
Yet the international community hesitated with the recognition of Eritrea, the reason being that nobody wants to set a precedence, as many ex-colonies, especially in Africa, are in danger of disintegration. Among the major policies of the OAU is not to question any national borders.
In 1997, Eritrea introduced a new currency, the Nafka. In 1998, a conflict arose with Ethiopia over disputed territories along the border. The conflict escalated into a short war in 2000.


Historical Atlas, Eritrea Page

Students' Paper : Sung Ji Yun, History of Nutrition in East Africa (2012)









WEB-BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . EXTERNAL SECONDARY SOURCES
Country Profiles . Links . Organizations . Accounts of History . Politics . Military History . Economic History . Social History . Ethnography
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Country Profiles Modern from BBC Country Profiles; from World Desk Reference ; from Nations Encyclopedia; from Wikipedia; from CIA World Factbook, countries - Eritrea; from IRIN (UN)
UK Border Agency, Country of Origin Report : Eritrea, leads to reports 2011-2013
Historical Giotto Dainelli, In Africa : lettere dall'Eritrea (1908, in Italian), IA
R. Paoli, Nella Colonia Eritrea 1908, IA
Links General from Library of Congress, Portals to the World; from BUBL; from Africa South of the Sahara (Stanford); from Africa Studies Center (UPenn)
Links on Eritrea, from Worldwide Gazeteer
Category : Eritrea, from Wikipedia
List of Eritrea-Related Topics, from Wikipedia
on History Virtual Library History : Eritrea
Category : History of Eritrea, from Wikipedia
Categoria : Storia dell' Eritrea, from Wikipedia
Organizations
Historical Dictionaries
Timelines Timeline, from BBC News; from timelines.ws
Accounts of History General, Modern from Wikipedia, Wikipedia Italian edition, eritrea.be, Africa.it, in Italian; by Mebrat Tzehaie
M.H. Mesghina, Eritrea Under Fire: Synopsis of Eritrean History from Turkish Colonization to the present and the Genesis and Contributing Factors to the Current Conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia
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F. Casanova, I nostri errori. Tredici anni in Eritrea: note storiche e considerazioni (1898, in Italian), IA
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W. Smidt, Political history of Eritrea before colonisation (1865-1885) - the example of the Blin people HAAP 3 (2005)
W.A. Degu, Political Development in the Precolonial Horn of Africa, thesis Amsterdam 2002
Italian Colony, 1882-1941
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Wikipedia : Italian Eritrea
Wikipedia, Italian Edition : Colonia Eritrea
Eritrea, Ministry of Information, Italian Colonization
British-Administered Eritrea, 1941-1952
Eritrea, Ministry of Information, British Administration 1941-1945
Union with Ethiopia, 1952-1991
Independence, since 1991
G.S. Yeibio, Independent Eritrea, a crumbling nation and a tragedy, published in Asmarino, Part I, 26 Nov. 2012, Part II, Jan. 14 2013, Part III - 'The Architects of Destruction', 24 June 2013
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Politics Political Resources on the Net : Eritrea; Country Profile : Eritrea, from ISS
Article Politics of Eritrea, from Wikipedia; Category : Politics of Eritrea, from Wikipedia
Governments on the WWW : Eritrea
DADM : Ethiopia/Eritrea 1950-1993, Eritrea 1993-preesent
T. Serequeberhan, The Eritrean People's Liberation Front: A Case Study in the Rhetoric and Practice of African Liberation 1989, IA
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A. Sium, Revisiting the "Black Man's Burden" : Eritrea and the Curse of the Nation State, thesis Toronto 2010
P.G. Ogbazghi, Personal Rule in Africa: The Case of Eritrea, African Studies Quarterly vol.12 Issue 2, Winter 2011
Military Wars of Eritrea, 1800-1999, from ACED
Articles World War II, East African Campaign, Eritrean War of Independence, Eritrean Civil Wars, Eritrean-Ethiopian War, Eritrean Ascari, Battle of Adwa, First Italo-Ethiopian War, from Wikipedia
Articles Guerra d'Eritrea, Guerra di Abissinia, Battaglie di Agordat, Battaglia di Adua, Campagna d'Africa Orientale, from Wikipedia Italian edition
Eritrea-Ethiopia : Year in Brief : 2005, from Global Security
Global Security : African Paramilitary Groups : Alliance of Eritrean National Force; Eritrean People's Liberation Front; Islamic Salvation Movement (Eritrea); Islamic Union of the Mujahideen of Ogadin
Ethiopia/Eritrea Profile, from International Crisis Group
Tracey L. Cousin, Eritrean and Ethiopian Civil War, from ICE Case Studies 1997
J. Stephenson, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Continued Conflict, from ICE Case Studies 2006
Worcester Regiment Website : 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment - Sudan and Eritrea (1939-1941)
WRNZLA Ascari: I Leoni d' Eritrea. Coraggio, Fedelta Onore. Tributo al Valore degli Ascari Eritrei.
M. White, Death Tolls for the Multicides of the Twentieth Century, Eritrea War of Independence, 1962-1992, Eritrea-Ethiopia War 1992-1998
L. Lata, The Ethiopia-Eritrea War, Review of African Political Economy 97 pp.369-388 2003
CASCON Case ETE : Ethiopia-Eritrea 1974-1993, by L.P. Bloomfield, L. Moulton
Economy & Finances A Global History of Currencies : Eritrea, Currency Boards and Dollarization by Kurt Schuler; click for Eritrea
Article Economy of Eritrea, from Wikipedia, Category : Economy of Eritrea, from Wikipedia
Pauline Boerma, Assessing Forest Cover Change in Eritrea - a Historical Perspective, 2006
Jacky Sutton, Eritrean Currency through the Ages
The National Agricultural Research System of Eritrea, WANA NARS study 1999
Storia dell Eritrea, from Africa.it
Alessandro Dinucci and Zeremariam Fre, Understanding the Indigenous Knowledge and Information Systems of Pastoralists in Eritrea, FAO 2003
Rena Ravinder, Historical Development of Money and Banking in Eritrea from the Axumite Kingdom to the Present MPRA 2006
G.B. Gioli, Le attitudini della colonia eritrea all'agricoltura, (1902, in Italian), IA
Societa di studi geografici, L'Eritrea Economica 1913, IA
Wharton Financial Institutions Center : Eritrea
Eritrea's Economic Survival. Summary record of a conference held on 20 April 2007, Chatham House
L.G. Mengesha, An Investigation of the Macroeconomic and Monetary Effects of Dollarization in Eritrea thesis Univ. of Waikato (NZ) 2013
T. Kifle, Can Border Demarcation Help Eritrea to Reverse the General Slowdown in Economic Growth? Bremen 2004
B. Araya, The economics of soil conservation in the highlands of Eritrea, thesis Univ. of Queensland 1997
Social History Eritrea, from Crime and Society, A Comparative Crimonology Tour of the World (R. Winslow)
Alcohol and Drugs History Society : Eritrea
Rena Ravinder, Eritrean Education, Retrospect and Prospect (2004), from MPRA
H. Thiollet, Refugees and Migrants from Eritrea to the Arab World: The Cases of Sudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia 1991-2007, American University in Cairo, 2007
I.K.M. Bjorndal, If you don't do it our way, forget it! Contextualising Education in Eritrea: Reflections on a Research Experience (on research in 1998-1999)
H.W. Ghebreab, Land disputes between villages in the highland of Eritrea : the case of Guaquat and Geddele village, thesis Univ. of KwaZulu Natal 2004
F.T. Abbay, The Eritrean Land Tenure System from Historical and Legal Perspectives, thesis McGill 2001
W. Kahsaye, The Cultural Ecology of Pastoralism in Eritrea : A Geographical Inquiry, thesis Louisiana State 2002
D. Bozzini, National Service and State Structures in Eritrea 2012
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Minorities at Risk, Eritrea - Afars
Eritrea, from Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
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G. Dahl et al., Precolonial Beja: A Periphery at the Crossroads, Nordic Journal of African Studies 15(4): 473-498 (2006)
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Article Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, from Wikipedia
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Chronology of Catholic Dioceses : Eritrea, from Kirken i Norge
Ismael Mukhtar, Milestones in the History of Islam in Eritrea 2008
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Eritrea, from Airlines History
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Structurae : Eritrea, search Lighthouse Explorer for Eritrea
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Biographies List of Eritreans, from Wikipedia
African Women Bibliographic Database
Dictionary of African Christian Biography
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B. Araya, The economics of soil conservation in the highlands of Eritrea, thesis Univ. of Queensland 1997
Others

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Historical Data Lists of Statesmen from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon); Rulers : Eritrea by B. Schemmel
from World Rulers (E. Schulz, illustrated); Rulers of Eritrea, from Wikipedia
Regmal Chronologies : East Africa; scroll down for Eritrea, Massawa
List of Colonial Heads of Eritrea, from Wikipedia
Lists of Ambassadors List of Ambassadors from the United Kingdom to Eritrea, from Wikipedia; U.S. Ambassadors to Eritrea, from NNDB: Chinese Ambassadors to Eritrea, from PRC MOFA
Statistical Data Responsible Institution
Population Figures Historical Population Statistics : Egypt, from Population Statistics at Univ. Utrecht
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Documents Hemerotheques University of Bologna; search Catalogo Italiano dei Periodici for Eritrea
Historical Newspapers
Modern Newspapers links from Online Newspapers, from World Newspapers
Individual Articles History of the Horn of Africa, from World History Archives, scroll down for Eritrea
Online Yearbooks
- Eritrea Entries
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Archives and Research Library of the Charles E. Wright Museum of African American History, The Sam Vinegar Collection: Postcards from Eritrea
Accidental Collections
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Items on Eritrea
License plates from Eritrea, from Francoplaque; from License Plates of the World
Airline Timetable Images : Eritrea
Archival Deposits Archivio Centralo della Stato (Italy), Ministero dell' Africa Italiana
Visual Anthropology : Archivi Fotografici in Italia
Museo Pigorini, Archivio Storico Fotografico
Banca d'Italia, Archivi Amministrazione Centrale, Affari Coloniali. Filiali Coloniali e Dalmate
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Consular Reports
Historiography
Document Collections Memorie Coloniali
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Security Council Report, UN Documents for Eritrea, UN Documents for Ethiopia/Eritrea
Individual Documents W.E. Ratliff, Follow the leader in the Horn, 1986; A pamphlet about the spread of communism in east Africa in the 1980s.
UN Security Council Resolutions 1993 res. 828, 1998 res. 1177, 1999 res. 1226, 1227, 2000 res. 1297, 1298, 1312, 1320, 2001 res. 1344, 1369, 2002 res. 1398, 1430, 1434, 2003 res. 1466, 1507, 2004 res. 1531, 1560, 2005 res. 1586, 1622, 1640, 2006 res. 1670, 1678, 1681, 1710, 2007 res. 1741, 1767, 2008 res. 1798, 1827
Historical Maps responsible institutions Ministry of Agriculture, National Mapping Agencies in Africa
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collections : Eritrea click here
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Historical
Encyclopedia Entries
Secular Articles Eritrea, Asmara, Massawa, Assab, EB 1911, Classic Encyclopedia, Internet Archive Wayback Machine
Articles : Massaua, Assabbai, from Meyers Konversationslexikon 1885-1892, in German, posted by Retro Bibliothek
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Economic
Geographical
Historical
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Monuments
Libraries Libraries in Eritrea, from LibDex
Official Symbols Flags, Coats of Arms Flag, from FOTW
National Anthem, from national-anthems.net
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Eritrea Coins, from Don's World Coin Gallery
Eritrea, from Encyclopedia of Small Silver Coins
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BIBLIOGRAPHY AND PRINT SOURCES
Bibliographies . Online Libraries . Thesis Servers . Online Journals . General Accounts . Specific Topics . Historical Dictionaries . Statistical Data . Yearbooks
Bibliographies general Search ISBN Database
RHS Bibliography
UK National Archive Online Library
on Eritrea survey of bibliographies
bibliographic database AfricaBib : Africana Periodical Literature, African Women, Women Travelers, Explorers and Missionaries to Africa
African Borderlands Research Network : Bibliography
general bibliographies K. Chekole, Eritrea: A Preliminary Bibliography, Ufahamu 1976
annual bibliographies
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Eritrea Bibliography, from FAO
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booksellers
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Thesis Server Open Access Theses and Dissertations
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Annales d'Ethiopie 1955-2005, Persee
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Articles : Adal pp.7-9, in : James Minahan, Nations without States, A Historical Dictionary of Contemporary National Movements, Westport CT : Greenwood 1996 [G]
Statistical Data IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. The Americas 1750-2000, London : Palgrave 2003 [G]
Yearbook Entries Britannica Book of the Year Eritrea, 1913 p.1049 [G]
Italian Colonial Empire, pp.376-377, 1946 pp.408-409, 1947 pp.426-427, 1948 pp.413-414,1949 pp.387-388 [G]
Eritrea, 1951 p.260, 1952 p.257, 1953 p.257, 1994 pp.358, 603, 1995 pp.403-404, 603, 1996 pp.401-402, 603, 1997 pp.415, 601, 2002 pp.422, 599 [G]
Statesman's Yearbook Italy, Foreign Dependencies, 1895 pp.714-715, 1898 pp.712-713, 1901 pp.801-802, 1905 pp.863-864, 1910 p.970 [G]
Eritrea, 1919 pp.1008-1009, 1924 pp.1042-1043, 1925 pp.1050-1051, 1926 pp.1017-1018, 1928 pp.1044-1045, 1929 pp.1028-1029, 1932 pp.1043-1044, 1937 pp.1080-1081, 1943 pp.1041-1042, 1994-1995 pp.521-522, 1995-1996 pp.518-520, 1996-1997 pp.458-460, 1997-1998 pp.467-469, 1998-1999 pp.512-514, 2000 pp.589-592, 2001 pp.570-573, 2002 pp.594-597, 2003 pp.597-600, 2004 pp.597-600, 2005 pp.596-599, 2006 p.590-594 [G]
Americana Annual Eritrea, 1927 pp.307-308, 1928 pp.276-277, 1930 pp.285-286, 1931 p.291, 1932 p.255, 1933 p.285, 1934 pp.224-225, 1935 pp.251-252, 1936 p.260, 1937 p.256, 1938 p.250 [G]
Italian East Africa, 1938 p.349, 1939 pp.386-388, 1940 pp.399-401, 1943 pp.392-394, 1944 p.363 [G]
Italian East Africa - Eritrea, 1945 p.381, 1946 pp.384-385 [G]
Eritrea, 1947 p.237; Italian East Africa p.364 [G]
Eritrea, in : 1994 pp.228-229 [G]
Other Article : Eritrea, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.306-307, 1899 pp.309-310, 1900 p.333 [G]
Article : Eritrea, in : New International Year Book 1907 p.249, 1908 p.231, 1909 p.231, 1913 p.234, 1914 pp.231-232, 1916 p.208, 1918 p.196 [G]
Article : Eritrea, in : New International Year Book 1919 pp.226-227, 1920 p.211, 1921 pp.212-213, 1923 p.217, 1925 p.220, 1928 p.238, 1930 p[.249-250, 1932 p.263, 1933 p.247, 1934 p.217, 1935 p.221, 1938 p.238, Italian East Africa 1938 pp.355-356, 1939 pp.382-384 [G]
Article : Italian East Africa, in : New International Year Book, Events of 1940, pp.369-370, 1941 pp.295-296, 1942 pp.337-338, Eritrea 1942 p.221, 1943 pp.188-189, 1944 pp.198-199, 1945 p.188 [G]
Eritrea pp.159-160, in : Year Book and Guide to East Africa 1963 [G]