Directory entries of Archival Repositories 1999




Street: Basement, Union Buildings
Postal: Private Bag X152, Pretoria

Telephone: (012) 351-0248
Fax: (012) 351-0261/351-0262
Enquiries to: The Archivist
Hours of opening:


Access: On application to the Director-General.

Acquisitions policy: All documents created at the political desks of the department over time are kept at the archives for twenty years.

Areas of specialisation: Biographies of all our diplomats from 1910-1997.

Core holdings: Documents regarding the Dominions in pre-union era as well as the developments during the establishment of the Diplomatic Corps of South Africa and biographical documents of diplomats during 1927-1997. The largest group which is also heavily consulted is the political files where our relations with foreign countries are described. These files give a thorough overview of our relations with other countries.

Finding aids: Our finding aids are unpublished and consist of eighty-five files with lists of documents.

National register participation: No.




Street: Schweickerdt Building, 20 Visagie Street, Pretoria, 0001
Postal: Private Bag X289, Pretoria, 0001

Telephone: (012) 355-3975
Fax: (012) 323-5613
Enquiries to: The Senior Staff Officer
Hours of opening:


Access: Accessibility is in accordance with the National Archives of South Africa Act (Act No. 43 of 1996) and in the case of classified documentation accessibility is subject to approval of the Chief of Defence Intelligence of the Department of Defence.

Brief history: The Department of Defence Archives was established as the SA Defence Force (SADF) Archives on 14 May 1968 following the approval by the Minister of Education of a separate military archives. Prior to this date an organisation for the preservation of the archives of the SADF Archives and its predecessor, the Union Defence Force, did exist but it had no legal status. The SADF Archives had a twofold function, namely to preserve the military archives and to undertake military historical research and history writing. It was therefore decided to rename it the Military Historical and Archival Service (MHAS). In response to the SADF's requirements, the MHAS gradually developed into a documentation service and this resulted in another change of the name in October 1972. The organisation then became known as the Central Documentation Service. Sweeping changes to the SADF in 1974 resulted in the reference library service, including the Central Library, being integrated into the Central Documentation Service. This led to a change in the status of the organisation. On 1 February 1975 it became a directorate and was designated the Documentation Service Directorate. In 1982 the directorate's functions were augmented considerably when the SADF's museums and ethnology service were added to it. Its function then comprised the preservation and management of records and archives; research and history writing; the reference library service; the museum service; and the ethnology service. The organisation was named the Military Information Bureau. Regrettably the Military Information Bureau was disestablished on 31 December 1986 and some of its functions were decentralized to the arms of service. Fortunately the nucleus, namely the SADF Archives and the Military History Section as well as the Central Library, was retained as the SADF Archives. Early in 1991 the SADF's personnel records were added to the SADF Archives. This warranted the re-instatement of an organisation with directorate status and the SADF Archives became part of Documentation Service Directorate. Following the election in 1994, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was established through the integration of the former statutory and non-statutory forces. On 1 April 1999 the name and status of this organisation was once again changed to bring the organisation in line with the transformation process, it is now known as the Documentation Centre. The Documentation Centre continued its functions and its archival service section, now known as the Department of Defence Archives, is still the official custodian of the documentation of the Department of Defence, the SANDF and its predecessors dating from 1912.

Acquisitions policy: Documentation Centre (Department of Defence Archive) is the custodian of the archives of the Department of Defence/SANDF since its inception in 1912 as the Union Defence Force. All records of offices of the Department of Defence are transferred to the Department of Defence Archives when they are ten years old or older.

Areas of specialisation: The Department of Defence Archives specializes in military history. It houses the official records of the Department of Defence as well as a collection of unique publications, unit history files, photographs, maps and pamphlets pertaining to the Department of Defence/SANDF and its predecessors dating from 1912. The Personnel Archives and Reserves (PAR) which also forms part of Documentation Centre, houses the personnel records of all former members of the SANDF and its predecessors. These personnel files are invaluable as a source for biographical details. Documentation Centre is also in possession of a collection of files pertaining to the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). It consists of applications by members of the South African Republican Forces during the 1920's for the following medals: the "Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst Anglo-Boereoorlog", the "De Zuidafrikaanse Republiek en Oranje Vrijstaat Oorlogsmedalje" and the "Lint voor Verwonding opgedaan gedurende de Anglo-Boereoorlog".

Core holdings: The Documentation Centre currently houses approximately two million files consisting of 1 607 different archival groups and approximately 250 680 personnel files. The most frequently consulted archival groups are as follows: Adjutant General. Chief of the General Staff. Commandant General. Director General Air Force. Divisional Documents. Naval Ships Logs. Chief of the Navy Ships Logs. Quartermaster General. Secretary for Defence. Union War Histories. Various War Diaries for the First and Second World Wars.

Finding aids: The main finding aids used at Documentation Centre comprise of the List of Archives, inventories, indexes and a computer retrieval system. The List of Archives reflects the entire content of the repository. Information such as the name of the archival group, abbreviation, the extent of the group in terms of archive boxes, the location and security classification are provided. Inventories provide detailed information on the content of each archival group. The items are described individually according to the title of the file, the file reference, the dates and the box number. Card indexes are available for the book, manuscript and map collections. Approximately 120 000 documents are available on the computer retrieval system of which about 48 000 are photographs. This represents only a small portion of the total holdings.

National register participation: No.




Street: 18 Swellengrebel Street, Swellendam, 6740
Postal: 18 Swellengrebel Street, Swellendam, 6740

Telephone: (0291) 4-1138
Fax: (0291) 4-2675
Enquiries to: The Head of the Museum
Hours of opening:

08h00-13h00, 14h00-16h45

Access: By appointment only.

Brief history: Collection started in 1938 by a member of Drostdy Commission, later to became the Drostdy Museum.

Acquisitions policy: Manuscripts and documents relating to the Swellendam settlement and its people.

Areas of specialisation: Local history.

Core holdings: Moodie Collection relating to the Settlers of 1817. Barry and Nephews (mercantile establishment) Collection. Swellendam Societies and Clubs 19th century.

Finding aids: Gids op Manuskripte in die Drostdy-museum, Swellendam. Pretoria: State Archives Service, 1988. First Edition.

National register participation: NAREM. Not linked for on-line retrieval.




Street: 14 Demazenod Road, Nashua House, 2nd Floor, Greyville
Postal: Private Bag X22, Greyville, 4023

Telephone: (031) 309-5681/2
Fax: (031) 309-5685
Enquiries to: Head, Durban Archives Repository
Hours of opening:

Mon-Fri 08h00-16h00

Access: All records which are accessible at the office of origin are accessible at the DAR. All records which are older than 20 years are accessible. Records which fall within the closed period, i.e. less than 20 years, can only be accessed with the permission of the National Archivist. Rights of public access to non-public records can be restricted by the donors of such records if they choose to do so.

Brief history: This repository was established in 1990 as an Intermediate Depot and is now a fully fledged Archives Repository.

Acquisitions policy: All public records within the DAR's jurisdiction which are identified as having permanent value are acquired, described and preserved permanently. Purchases, donations or loans from other diverse sources are acquired by way of collections. We also aim to produce or secure the production of records to fill gaps in our holdings by way of oral history programmes and photographing of people, events and things.

Areas of specialisation: The DAR serves Durban and the Coastal Region as follows: the North Coast east of the N2 from Sodwana Bay to Empangeni, and the coastal region between KwaZulu and the sea from Empangeni through Eshowe to and including Durban. The division between the Durban and Pietermaritzburg areas along the N3 is at Cato Ridge, which is included in the Pietermaritzburg region. South of Durban, the DAR covers the area between KwaZulu and the sea down to Port Edward.

Core holdings: The largest group at the DAR is the Durban Town Clerk (3/DBN) (1135 lm), followed by the Registrar of the Supreme Court (RSC) (1011 lm), then the Registrar of the North Eastern Divorce Court (RNE) (310 lm). The most heavily consulted groups are the RSC and RNE. The ship's lists (DIA) are also heavily consulted.

Finding aids: The DAR's holdings comprise of 4728,9 lm. Of this 3293,3 lm are arranged and have inventories. 1194,12 lm have a transfer list and 1334.53 lm is data-coded and can be traced electronically. 139,66 lm are without any finding aids.

National register participation: We do not contribute as yet, but are linked on-line.




Street: Dirk van der Hoff Building, 224 Jacob Mari Street, Pretoria
Postal: P.O. Box 2368, Pretoria, 0001

Telephone: (012) 322-8885
Fax: (012) 322-7909
Website: *
Enquiries to: The Archivist
Hours of opening:

Weekdays 08h00-16h00,
On Saturdays by appointment

Access: Full access, except certain private collections.

Brief history: Prof. Dr. S.P. Engelbrecht as first archivist of the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk since 1924, gained permission in that year from the then Minister of Interior Affairs Dr. D.F. Malan to conserve the records. In 1957 he became full time archivist. In 1959 the Dirk van der Hoff building was built to accommodate the archives of church offices. In the 1950's he moved his Collection to the church, containing the core of all the records. In 1954 Prof. Engelbrecht retired and Dr. H.M. Rex became head of the archives. Since 1981 Mr. F.S. van Rensburg heads the archives.

Acquisitions policy: All church historical and cultural records, documents. (Everything produced by congregations and synodal bodies, as well as private collections from ministers.)

Areas of specialisation: All Church minutes, correspondence, photographs, including all congregational and synodal records. ZAR - history and pioneer history of Transvaal. Genealogy. The records date back to the 1830's when the church founded congregations in the old Transvaal.

Core holdings: Synodal Archives - National Synod since 1850's (Algemene Kerkvergadering). All subdivisions e.g. the Moderamen. Congregations - holdings the minutes of the consistory, financial committees. Registrars on baptism, membership of marriage (until 1972). Correspondence. Photographs. The deaconate: old Age Homes e.g. "Ons Tuis" - Pretoria. Orphanage - e.g. Krugersdorp. Theological Faculty at University Pretoria - (The seminary). Private Collections - S.P. Engelbrecht - on church history (local and European). W. Punt - Pretoria History. H.M. Rex - Pretoria History. Several collections on ministers from the church. P.S. Nearly all records are written either in Dutch or Afrikaans.

Finding aids: Inventory. Catalogue.

National register participation: NAREM. Not linked for on-line retrieval.




Street: Sinodale Sentrum, 351 Burger Street, Pietermaritzburg
Postal: P.O. Box 649, Pietermaritzburg

Telephone: (0331) 45-2279
Fax: (0331) 45-2279
Enquiries to: The Archive Official
Hours of opening:

Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri 08h00-13h00

Access: Research can be done after appointment under control of archive official.

Brief history: The Archive has been an integral part of the administration of the Church since 1836.

Acquisition policy: Formed by resolutions and instructions of Synod.

Core holdings: Repository of records, minutes, documents, membership registers of congregations, committees and institutions of the Dutch Reformed Church since the Voortrekkers entered Natal in 1836.

Finding aids: Electronic and unpublished finding aids, handled by staff.

National register participation: No.




Street: NG Kerk Centre, Grey's Pass (upper Queen Victoria Street), Cape Town
Postal: P.O. Box 3171, Cape Town, 8000

Telephone: (021) 424-9136
Fax: (021) 423-2745
Enquiries to: The Archivist
Hours of opening:

08h15-13h00, 14h00-16h00

Access: With the exception of minutes of meetings which are closed for 20 years, all other records are accessible.

Brief history: During the second Synod in 1826, the Registrar, Rev JC Berrange, was instructed to take Synodal archival material into his care and to compile a ""redeneerd Register""or Synodal Repertory of the proceedings. The Registrar of the Synod performed this role for many years. In 1883 the Synod estabished a Church Office Commission with the mandate to equip a proper church office. The same Synod authorised the purchase of a safe for the archives of the Synod. One of the duties of the commissioner was that he should take over the task of Archivist from the Registrar. The Registrar however still acted as Archivist for a period. After the Synod of 1894 stipulated that the Church Office Commission should decide which records should be included in the Synodal Archives, the Archives increasingly became the responsibility of the commissioner and the Church Office Commission. It was only during the Synod of 1928 that the fully fledged post of Archivist was created and that Rev. A Dreyer was appointed as the first Archivist. He initially fell under the supervision of the Church Office Commission. An independent Archives Commission was established by the Synod of 1940.

Acquisition policy: All archivalia of congregations, circuits, synodal and church institutions of the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape, as well as the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church are transferred to archival custody. Records of certain synods of the "Verenigende Gereformeerde Kerk" (former Dutch Reformed Mission Church and Dutch Reformed Church of Africa) are also transferred. Records of private individuals are accepted as voluntary donations.

Areas of specialisation: Church history (family of Dutch Reformed Churches); Genealogy.

Core holdings: The records date from 1665. Congregational record: baptismal, membership and marriage registers, minutes and financial records. Circuit records: minutes and reports. Synodal records: minutes and reports. Private collections (mostly of ministers): sermons, correspondence, etc. Photographs: Ministers, Church buildings, etc. Library: Church history, congregational history, church periodicals, publications of church publishers, e.g. Lux Verbi and Bybelkor.

Finding aids: Card index. Unpublished inventories and indexes.

National register participation: No.




Street: Gladstone Street, East London, 5201
Postal: P.O. Box 652, East London, 5200

Telephone: (0431) 2-4992
Fax: (0431) 43-1729
Enquiries to: The Senior Librarian, Reference Services
Hours of opening:

Mon 09h00-20h00,
Tues 09h00-18h00,
Wed 09h00-18h00,
Thurs 09h00-20h00,
Fri 09h00-17h00,
Sat 08h30-12h30

Access: Closed collection, not available to school children. Material to be signed for and used in the reference library only. Photocopy facilities are available.

Brief history: Dr Joseph Denfield offered his collection of historical material on East London to the library in 1967. This formed the foundation of the Local History Collection now housed in the Denfield Africana Library.

Acquisitions policy: Donations of material related to the history of East London are accepted, with the provision that the librarian decides what to do with the material.

Areas of specialisation: History of East London and environs.

Core holdings: Minutes, correspondence etc. of some East London Societies. Memorabilia of some East Londoners.

Finding aids: No published finding aids. List of material kept in the reference library.

National register participation: No.




Street: 319 Oxford Street, East London, 5200
Postal: P.O. Box 11021, Southernwood, 5213

Telephone: (0431) 43-0686
Fax: (0431) 43-3127
Enquiries to: The Director
Hours of opening:

Mon-Fri 09h30-17h00
Sat 14h00-17h00
Sun 11h00-16h00

Access: Only by consultation with the relevant curator.

Brief history: The East London Museum was established in 1921 when a Museum Society was founded with RJ Rattray as President. In 1925 it was granted land on the Selborne Estate by the East London Municipality. The museum was officially opened on 26 September 1931. By 1945 it needed to expand, so a new site was obtained and the present building was opened in 1950. Further extensions have subsequently been added. A name synonymous with the museum is that of Dr Marjorie Courtenay-Latimor, the first Curator (later Director), who retired after 42 years of service (1931-73).

Acquisitions policy: Mission Statement: The East London Museum collects information and specimens relating to the Eastern Cape Province. The goal is to communicate this knowledge in order to further the understanding of the human and natural history of our area. The museum conserves collections, conducts research and educates through exhibitions, publications and programmes. The museum is part of the community and welcomes participation by all.

Areas of specialisation: At present the main collections are created by the ornithologist and malacologist for natural history and the anthropologist and historian for human history. The librarian manages library material.

Core holdings: Library material includes a vast collection of books, photographs and slides relating to the Eastern Cape. Journals also form part of the library holdings.

Finding aids: Details of specimens are recorded in accession registers and on systems of catalogue cards.

National register participation: No.



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