The Africana Periodical Literature database provides metadata of articles on Africa covering a wide range of topics, from geography, history and anthropology to agriculture, women's studies, medicine and health. It currently (January 2020) contains more than 179,000 records from over 800 journals. The majority of the journals are in English or French. A smaller number is in German, Afrikaans, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese. There is a strong focus on journals published in Africa. More than 50,800 articles have a link to full text, and more than 75,800 articles have an abstract.
The database is updated regularly with metadata of articles abstracted and indexed by the information specialists at the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) in Leiden, The Netherlands, which has hosted the database since June 2008.
Africana Periodical Literature as it stands at present is an amalgamation of four separate sources:
The subject field of the Africana Periodical Literature database reflects the history of the database's constitution. When the ASCL, QIAPL and Bullwinkle databases were merged, records were matched and duplicates merged. Records which overlapped with the ASCL database were enriched with terms from the African Studies Thesaurus.
At present (2020) 47 percent of the articles have terms from the African Studies Thesaurus, a structured vocabulary of more than 13,000 English terms in the field of African studies developed and maintained by the ASCL. Most articles currently added to the Africana Periodical Literature database are assigned subject terms from the African Studies Thesaurus.
QIAPL records (1991-2011) have subject terms from the OECD Macrothesaurus for Information Processing in the field of Economic and Social Development. Some use was also made of Library of Congress subject headings.
Records from the database maintained by Davis Bullwinkle (1974-2008) were assigned subjects from the following 25 subject categories (clickable!):
- Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
- Anthropology and Archaeology
- Architecture and the Arts
- Development and Technology
- Drought and Desertification
- Economics and Trade
- Education and Oral Traditions
- Ethnic and Race Relations
- Health and Nutrition
- History and Exploration
- Inter-African Relations
- International Relations
- Labor and Employment
- Law, Human Rights and Violence
- Literature, Mass Media and the Press
- Military, Defense and Arms
- Miscellaneous (i.e. Demography, Refugees, Sports)
- Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
- Politics and Government
- Religion and Witchcraft
- Urbanization and Migration
- Women's Issues
The original AfricaBib Africana Periodical Literature database was begun by Davis Bullwinkle in 1974. The titles were chosen from the library at California State University-Chico. Coverage was later extended to materials from Northwestern University and other major university libraries in the United States, as well as the Library of Congress.
By February 2008 Bullwinkle had indexed over 60,000 articles from over 500 English-language and multilingual journals and periodicals that specialized in African Studies or consistently covered the African continent, including ten electronic journals. The titles represented Africana materials published in over 22 nations within North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. A list of the journals and periodicals indexed in the period 1974-2008 is available here.