After National Service in the Royal Navy, studies at Oxford University, and some months working as a printer, Sampson accepted an invitation to South Africa from a former fellow student at Oxford, Jim Bailey, founder and owner of a new black magazine, African Drum (later Drum), then in need of a business manager. Letters received from Bailey at this time report progress with establishing the magazine, of which, only weeks after his arrival, Sampson became editor. Though he returned to England in 1955, his active links with Drum continued into the 1960s as his correspondence with Bailey and later editors shows. There is discussion about developments with the magazine, sales figures, establishing a market in West Africa, contributions to the magazine by Sampson and, in 1962, the possibility of Sampson’s return to work for the expanded Drum organisation. Relating to this period also are letters received from former colleagues and friends in South Africa, many of which refer to growing political unrest. There are also letters to his parents from his time in South Africa relaying his observations on life and work there.
The photograph of Drum readers is by Jürgen Schadeberg, a young German photographer who joined Drum as Picture Editor shortly after Sampson. Jürgen’s vivid pictures revitalised the magazine and his generosity in training African photographers to follow him ensured the tradition. The photographer referred to in the second line of Sampson's letter to his mother is Schadeberg. The project team was delighted to receive a call from Jürgen's wife, Claudia, to say that she and Jürgen are working on his autobiography and researching his photographs. We were able to provide the Schadebergs with some images they lacked and they very kindly helped us indentify some uncaptioned images of Jürgen's photographs among the papers.