Fonds RC0208 - Dian Fossey fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Dian Fossey fonds

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Dates of creation area


  • 1955-1987 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

12.5 cm of textual records.
5 photographs: colour.
1 video recording.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Dian Fossey, primatologist, educator, and author, was born in San Francisco, California, on 16 January 1932. She was educated at San Jose State College (B.A, 1954) and Cambridge University (Ph.D., 1976). With the encouragement of Louis Leakey she founded the Karsoke Research Centre in 1967 in Rwanda to study mountain gorillas. She made several television appearances on programs such as National Geographic, wrote many journal and magazine articles and published a book, Gorillas in the Mist (1983). She was murdered in late December 1985 in Ruhengeri, Rwanda.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of manuscripts and articles, including typescript drafts of Gorillas in the Mist; field notes; correspondence; photographs; materials relating to the Digit Fund (named after one of the gorillas). The third accrual consists of a compilation video of footage about Dian Fossey. It may have been compiled by Georgianne Nienaber, who wrote Fossey’s biography.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Most of the material was acquired from Farley Mowat in 1990. It was used by Farley Mowat for his own book about Fossey, <i>Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey</i> (1987). A second accrual of a single letter from Fossey (31-2006) was acquired from Alan Mulholland in 2006. The provenance of the third accrual is unknown; it was added to the collection in 2015.


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Restrictions on access

Access restrictions to the first accrual (folders 1 to 50) have expired. Access to the second accrual (folder 51) is restricted until 2020; a photocopy with excised portions is available in folder 51b.

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Further accruals are not expected.

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