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University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries

Research Guides

African Commemorative Textiles

African Commemorative Fabrics


This guide is meant to highlight the library's ongoing African commemorative fabric collection, as well as to provide resources for those interested in learning more about commemorative or simply African textiles in general. These fabrics express a variety of messages on a wide scale, from remembering the life of a beloved historical figure, advertising a product, congratulating someone on their graduation, to celebrating a country's independence.

While they serve the every day purpose of clothing, rags, or swaddling, commemorative fabrics also act as vehicles of a message within a given community. However, due to everyday wear and tear, these messages can be lost or forgotten. Digitization, then, allows us to preserve these messages, and to render them accessible to a wider community. 

The digital collection can be found here.

History of African Fabric

To learn more about the role of African wax prints in terms of politics, culture and identity, this post provides a very detailed and in-depth explanation.

International Women's Day and Fabric

Social Science and African Studies Bibgliographer

Emilie Songolo
Memorial Library

Room 278F



This guide was created and is managed by Kirstie Yu. For questions, please contact at


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