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<firstname.lastname@example.org> Ann McDougall writes: poetry is the principal means by which Saharans in most of Mauritania and Mali record history (history as defined as events as distinguished from genealogy), I strongly suspect the observation is an accurate one, the exceptions not withstanding. The exceptions, of course, are quite numerous. Tim Cleaveland's thesis made use of little or no poetry, but he did use some important prose chronicles (an abstract of his thesis was published in the _Saharan Studies Newsletter_, 2, no. 1, May 1994). In fact, the annals form in prose is a very typical western Saharan historiographical development. In it earliest form it appears in the late chapters of al-Sa'di's "Ta'rikh al-Sudan" (c. 1655) where the author lists obituaries and important events for particular time periods. Later it developed into an independent genre. There is quite a lot of such material, and other chronicle formats in Mauritanian libraries and in the Centre de Documentation et de Recherche Historique Ahmad Baba, at Timbuktu. I did a write-up about this center in the journal _Sudanic Africa_, no. 2 (1992), 173-81, indicating some of the types of material to be found there and the titles of some important works; this report is on the Web at <http://www.hf.uib.no/smi/sa/>. Some of the items I saw in Timbuktu included documents concerning slavery - manumission papers, disputes about free status, making an endowment of a slave, and purchase of slaves - I published a document in this latter category in issue no. 7 (1996) of _Sudanic Africa_ (only available in the printed version of the journal). I did find documents going back to the mid-18th century, though most of those dated were from the 19th century. However, I believe that older material may surface, at least back to the 17th century. The center also has quite a number of documents generated by merchants, some of which are valuable for detail on trans-Saharan trade and for local prices (salt, grain, slaves, etc.). I was kindly given permission to photograph some of these documents, and the photographs are now in the Melville J. Herskovits Library of Africana, Northwestern University. Incidentally, a handlist of the manuscripts and documents at the Ahmad Baba Centre is being pubished (in Arabic) by the Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, London (3 volumes so far). Details of these and other volumes relative to Mauritania, Senegal and Nigeria are to be found in the _Saharan Studies Newsletter_, no. 5, pt. 2 (November 1997). Anyone interested can contact me at ASA later this week or by e-mail.