The George Fortune Digital Collection includes materials collected by Professor George Fortune. Professor Fortune was born on July 31, 1915 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia). After receiving a Ph.D. in Bantu Languages from the University of Cape Town in 1950, Fortune was appointed lecturer within that Department. In 1962, he became the first chair of the Department of African Languages, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now the Department of African Languages and Literatures, University of Zimbabwe), a position he retained until 1980. He passed away on October 17, 2012.

Fortune conducted extensive research and written widely on Central and Southern African languages for over fifty years. His writings concerning the Shona language were crucial to the development of a standard Shona orthography, and texts such as Elements of Shona are regarded as canonical. Fortune also played a key role in establishing African linguistics as a field of study at African universities. Later in his career, Professor Fortune became very much involved in supporting the publication of Shona literature, such as praise poetry, modern poetry, and traditional stories (see Hodza and Fortune 1979, Fortune 1980). Fortune made an important contribution to the advancement and recognition of vernacular Shona literature, and worked extensively with several writers, such as A.C. Hodza and J.C. Kumbirai, who published with the Southern Rhodesia African Literature Bureau.

The bulk of the George Fortune collection consists of published materials located in the circulating collections of the George A. Smathers Libraries. Searching the library catalog for "George Fortune Collection" ("anywhere") returns nearly 1,700 items. A bibliography of Fortune monographs also is available in the Institutional Repository. In addition to published circulating material, a manuscript collection of related unpublished material is available to users visiting on site at the Special and Area Studies Collection Department in the Smathers Library on the University of Florida campus. The finding guide to Fortune manuscripts is available online. Contact information for the department and on the use of its Research Room also is available online. Finally, there is a separate finding guide to the small set of audio cassette tapes in Prof. Fortune's collection, which are available online for download. These audio files can be accessed directly.