The J. M. Derscheid collection of materials on Rwanda and Burundi includes approximately 2,500 items with illustrations and maps, with materials on Ruanda-Urundi, with some documents on Kivu and Oriental provinces, and Belgian Congo.

There is an online guide to the collection, prepared from a photocopied typescript provided by René Lemarchand. The materials are chiefly administrative reports of District Commissioners and Governors (e.g. Bourgeois, R. 1934. "Notes sur l’Administration des indigenes du Territoire de Shangugu (Ruanda)" Typescript. 83 pages) and include oral histories, genealogies of clan chiefs from ca. 1859-1940, censuses, correspondence and reports by missionaries. The collection is from a set of microfilm reels of the original materials. The collection materials are in French, German (and possibly Flemish).

The J. M. Derscheid Collection is a rich set of primarily French language manuscripts relating to pre-colonial and colonial era Burundi, Eastern Congo and Rwanda. These unique and rare materials document the culture and history of the region. They were created and collected by Jean-Marie Derscheid, a zoologist and wildlife conservationist who undertook historical research on Rwanda and the Eastern Congo from 1924-1939. Among other things, he is notable for having criticized Belgian colonial agricultural policies that promoted cultivation in the sensitive environments of the Virunga Mountains, which he recognized for their importance of their conservation as supporting one of only two limited habitats of endangered Mountain Gorillas. A single day's journal entry from his experience on Carl Akeley's final expedition to Mt. Mikeno is included from February 28, 1927 (apparently in error, as nothing from the rest of his journal was included).

Derscheid's scholar-curated collection of research materials is an important resource for interdisciplinary research in the area as noted by René Lemarchand, professor emeritus of political science (see Rwanda and Burundi 1970:x). The collection includes approximately 2,500 manuscript pages, illustrations and maps relating to Rwanda and Burundi (former Ruanda-Urundi), with some materials on the Kivu and Oriental provinces of the former Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). These include administrative reports of District Commissioners and Governors, official histories and genealogies of clan chiefs from ca. 1859-1940, the collector's research notes and correspondence with colonial administrators and missionaries (members of the Roman Catholic missionary society known as the White Fathers or Pères Blancs in French).

Derscheid published on African history and culture, the creation of the Parc National Albert in Congo (including his work on the Mountain Gorillas with Carl Akeley's expedition), many biological science articles, a book on European bird conservation and a number of practical articles on the captive breeding of wild ducks. He was also a veteran of the Belgian resistance during World War II who was captured and later executed by the Nazis.

Additional materials available in support of the manuscripts themselves include: