Records of African Dermaptera date back as far as the middle of the 18th century, but from then onwards to the end of the 19th century such records were comparatively scarce, and it was not until the early part of the present century that such records became numerous with the work of Burr and Borelli. Most of the publications on African Dermaptera, however, are lists of species from various parts of the continent, often those resulting from expeditions, and there has been no previous attempt to co-ordinate the available records into a comprehensive survey of the African Dermaptera.
The present revision is in two parts, the present part including all families except Carcinophoridae, which is to be included in Part 2. The main reason for this division is that the taxonomy of the Carcinophoridae is much more difficult than that of other families, largely due to the lack of external characters, so that almost all determinations have to be based on the male genitalia; consequently the species of this family need more detailed treatment as a rule than those in the other families. Although the present key to families uses the male genitalia as a main character, the keys to genera and species are largely based on external characters. These latter, however, are often found only in males, and the determination of females may be difficult.
The northern part of Africa, north of the Sahara, has such a different fauna to that found in Africa south of the Sahara, that north Africa is not included in the present work. Africa, as understood in the present work refers to Africa south of the Sahara, that is the Ethiopian Region but not including Maddagascar, nor the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.