This proposal examines climatic variability over West Africa during the 19th century, using a semi?quantitative data set developed by the P.I. This data is produced from a combination of documentary information and gauge data. Rainfall is characterized by a value ranging from ?3 to +3. Although only semi?quantitative, this data set readily lends itself to simple statistical analyses, including spectral analysis. Using this data set, we compare rainfall variability in the historical (i.e., 19th?century) and modern records. In doing so, we consider both detection and attribution of climate change in the region. The proposed work should provide a better foundation upon which to determine whether the long decline in Sahel rainfall is a consequence of global warming.