Directory entries of
Archival Repositories




Address: Street: 319 Oxford Street, East London, 5200
  Postal: P.O. Box 11021, Southernwood, 5213
Telephone: (043) 743 0686
Fax: (043) 743 3127
Enquiries to: The Director
Hours of opening: Monday-Friday 09h30-17h00
Saturday 14h00-17h00
Sunday 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 Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, the first Curator (later Director), who retired after 42 years of service (1931-1973).

Acquisitions policy: The East London Museum collects information in different formats, i.e. textual, illustrated, three-dimensional, electronic and reprographic, that are related to the Eastern Cape. 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 curated by natural scientists (malacology, ornithology and coastal management) for natural history and human scientists (anthropology and history for humanities). The librarian manages library and archival material.

Core holdings: Artefacts, specimens, textual and illustrated material. Indigenous information, specifically related to the Eastern Cape.

Finding aids: All records are recorded in accession registers, catalogue cards and on-line. Software application that is in use: Inmagic.

National register participation: No.



Address: Libraries and Archives, Private Bag X7486, King Williamstown, 5600
Telephone: (040) 609 4662/8
Fax: (040) 609-4664
Enquiries to: The Provincial Archivist
Hours of opening: Monday – Friday 8h00 – 16h30
Access: Presently consultation is via a closed access system and therefore limited to only archives staff and government officers especially the office of the Premier and Finance Department that are consulting personnel files and cash registers (Record Centre holdings).

Brief history: The repository came into operation in 1997 with the appointment of three staff members – a Deputy Director and two Assistant Directors - one for repository and the other for records management. The Assistant Director for records management resigned in 1999 and since then, this post has been vacant. The repository has been operating with skeletal staff until the recent appointment of an Archives Assistant and two Principal Archivists.

Acquisitions policy: The repository acquires archival collections of research value from client offices, government departments, district councils, and N.G.O.s. The collection consists of records from Grahamstown High Court, Southern divorce court K.W.T. Department of Public Works, Department of Finance, Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice-Peddie, Department of Labour (U.I.F. files), former Ciskei Government records, Office of the Premier.

Areas of specialisation: Stored in the holdings are records pertaining to Land rights, divorce cases, criminal and civil cases; church and school sites, information about settlement pertaining to Zwelitsha, Ginsberg, Mdantsane, and information about Chieftainship (Ciskei in particular).

Core holdings: The largest groups in the holdings are the records from Grahamstown High Court which occupy 1,250 linear meters of shelving space. These are the most frequently consulted collection through telephonic enquiries. These consist mostly divorce cases and civil matters. The other largest group are the records from Department of Justice in Peddie which occupy 1 550 linear meters. Another frequently consulted collection is the Records Centre holdings which consists of records from the Premiers’ office and the Department of Finance. They consist of personnel files of employees who are no longer in the establishment and cash registers.

Finding aids: An incomplete inventory – incomplete because not all transfers are arranged. No computer terminals.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: Lower Mezzanine, 2 First Place, Bankcity, Cnr. Simmonds and Jeppe Streets, Johannesburg, 2000
  Postal: P.O. Box 1153, Johannesburg, 2000
Telephone: (011) 371-3146
Fax: (011) 352-9053
Enquiries to: The Archivist
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 08h00-16h00
Access: The archives are accessible to bona fide researchers (restrictions on certain material).

Brief history: Up to 31 May 1997 the archives formed part of the First National Bank Museum, which was established in 1979 to, inter alia, identify, document, research and bring to the public the important historical documents accumulated by the Bank. The Museum was closed to the public on 31 May 1997 and the archives now exist as a single entity.

Acquisitions policy: Material pertaining to the history of First National Bank and its predecessor banks.

Areas of specialisation: The history of First National Bank and its predecessors.

Core holdings: Board Minutes and related documents of FNB and its main predecessor banks, viz: Bank of Africa, Natal Bank, Eastern Province Bank, National Bank of the Orange Free State/Orange River Colony, De Nationale Bank der Zuid Afrikaansche Republik, Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas)/Barclays Bank DCO, Barclays National Bank Ltd. Branch and Head Office General Ledgers, Signature Books and related ledgers. Directors’ Reports and Balance Sheets of FNB and its main predecessor banks. Annual Reports. Correspondence Collection. Photographic collection. Staff Records. Branch Records. Various smaller collections. Small research library containing books dealing mainly with banking and related subjects.

Finding aids: Computer indexes exist to most of the collections and the archives also has a sophisticated computer database system (STAR) which is currently being compiled.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: 44 Durban Street, Fort Beaufort, 5720
  Postal: PO Box 94, Fort Beaufort, 5720
Telephone: (046) 645-1555
Fax: (046) 645-1555
Enquiries to: The Curator
Hours of opening: Monday – Friday: 8h20 to 13h00 and 14h00 to 17h00
Saturdays: 08h25 to 12h45
Closed on Sundays & Public holidays
Access: The museum is open to all members of the public anywhere in the world. The museum consists of various displays on a wide variety of historical value.

Brief history: In 1938 the National Monument’s Commission had a meeting to open a museum. The doors opened in 1940. Originally it was a Municipal Museum but later it became a Provincial-aided Museum.

Acquisitions policy: The Museum collects items related to Fort Beaufort.

Areas of specialisation: The Fort Beaufort District.

Core holdings: The museum is one unit in the same building. Generally visitors and school groups visit the whole museum. People doing research make use of the reference library.

Finding aids: In the museum there is a computer with a data base on all the items found in the museum collection.

National register participation: There are very few items of national importance and therefore not linked for on-line retrieval.



Address: Street: 29 Badenhorst Street, Universitas, Bloemfontein, 9301
  Postal: Private Bag X20504, Bloemfontein, 9300
Telephone: (051) 522-6762
Fax: (051) 522-6765
Enquiries to: The Provincial Archivist
Hours of opening: Weekdays 08h00-16h00,
Saturdays 09h00-12h00 (not over long weekends)
Access: Inventories are available on most of the holdings. The documents can be consulted during official hours. Most of the documents have been computerised and references can be retrieved by means of the main frame computer in the reading room. No photostat copies of the documents in the Registrar of Deeds (AKT) group and Master of the Supreme Court – Estate Files (MHG) group are allowed due to the brittle condition of these documents. Photostats can be made of almost all the other archivalia on request. All records which are accessible at the office of origin are accessible in the reading room of the repository. All public records, with the exception of the registers mentioned below, are accessible when they are older than 20 years. Birth, marriage and death registers belonging to the Department of Home Affairs (SBS) have restrictions, and are at present only accessible to researchers with a proven direct interest. Otherwise the closed periods for these registers are as follows: Birth Registers – closed for a period of 100 years, all other registers: closed for a period of 30 years. Accessibility of non-public records depends on the wishes of the donors.

Brief history: After Union (31 May 1910) DF du Toit was appointed as the first acting archivist in the Free State. He resigned in 1923. On 29 March 1927 LB van der Walt was appointed as the first full-time archivist. He took up his post in the newly completed archives building in Elizabeth Street (currently this building is used as a Records Centre). This building was the first in South Africa to be built exclusively to be used as an archives repository. In 1996 a new repository was taken into use because of space considerations.

Acquisition policy: Public records are transferred in terms of archival legislation. Concerning non-public records, currently emphasis is placed on the collection of documents regarding the black inhabitants of the Free State as a clear gap exists regarding such records in this repository. This is done by means of an outreach programme, which was introduced in 1998. A photographic collection programme is underway where emphasis is placed on the early history of the black people and steps are being taken to preserve this heritage. All donations in the form of documents, photographs and other documentary material (books, etc.) will be accepted. Oral history interviews with black people who played significant roles in their communities, are now being added as well.

Areas of specialisation: Public and non-public records relating to the Free State.

Core holdings: Largest Groups: MHG – Master of the Supreme Court (Estate Files), 1839-1942. HG – Criminal and Civil Cases, Supreme Court, 1849-. AKT – Registrar of Deeds, 1841-1970. Most consulted: MHG – especially by genealogists, medical history research, etc. AKT – also by genealogists and land reform researchers. SRC – Chief Superintendent of Refugee Camps, 1900-1903: This group consists of records of all the Refugee Camps in the Free State during the Anglo-Boer War. Genealogists consult it and researchers busy researching the Anglo-Boer War. Other major groups: SBS – Regional Representative, Department of Home Affairs: Registers re births, marriages and deaths for the Bloemfontein region. GS – Governmental Secretary, 1854-1900. CO – Colonial Office, 1901-1911. Records, which originated at all the provincial government levels, and those which originated at the different local authorities in the Free State as well as the different magistrate’s offices in the Free State.

Finding aids: Inventories exist for almost all the archival groups in this repository. These are in typed form and some have been published. Currently a programme has been implemented of translating all of these inventories from Afrikaans to English. Most of the documents have been data coded and computerised. References to these documents can be found quite easily by making use of the computer retrieval system in the reading room. A published Guide to Accessions (non-public records) exists in Afrikaans.

National register participation: Yes.



Address: Street: Historical Papers, Ground Floor, William Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
  Postal: P.O. Box 31719, Braam-fontein, 2107
Telephone: (011) 717-4239
Fax: (011) 717-1783
Enquiries to: The Co-ordinator
Hours of opening: 08h30-17h00 (closed between 13h00 and 14h00)
Access: Most of the GALA collections have unrestricted public access. However some collections, or portions thereof, are embargoed or restricted according to the wishes of the donor.

Brief history: GALA was established in January 1997 as a repository of material relating to lesbian and gay experience in South Africa. GALA is an independent project of the South African History Archives. The archives were made possible by a three year grant from the Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (HIVOS), based in the Netherlands. The archives arose in order to address the need for a permanent institutional home for the wide range of material of cultural and historical significance to lesbian and gay communities in South Africa.

Acquisitions policy: GALA does not, to date, have a formal acquisitions policy. This is being drawn up with reference to other lesbian and gay archives, internationally. GALA pursues an open acquisitions policy and all material of lesbian and gay interest is accepted by GALA. This includes documents, photographs, diaries, letters, memorabilia, clothing and artifacts of significance to gay and lesbian experience in South Africa.

Areas of specialisation: Material collected by GALA has a special significance for lesbian and gay communities in South Africa.

Core holdings: GALA’s collections include organisational, legal and personal records, academic and research papers, records of media coverage, photographs, memorabilia and other artefacts. Several collections provide detailed insights into gay and lesbian anti-apartheid politics in the 1980s, both in South Africa and internationally. These include personal correspondence and organisational records. There is a suite of collections which covers in detail legal reform here over the last 40 years. We have collections of international and local gay and lesbian magazines, as well as an ongoing media monitoring collection, which includes newspaper clippings and audio and video material from the South African press and broadcasters. Notable individual collections include the papers of Mr Justice Edwin Cameron and the Simon Nkoli collection.

Finding aids: The archives operate on a manual index card system. Information on the GALA collections can be accessed on the Web. Inventories can be sent to long distance researchers.

National register participation: Yes.



Address: Street: 348 Van der Walt Street, Pretoria
  Postal: Private Bag X290, Pretoria, 0001
Telephone: (012) 322-7685
Fax: (012) 322-7699
Enquiries to: The Head: Education Library
Hours of opening: Monday-Friday 07h30-16h30,
Saturday 08h00-12h00 (excluding long weekends and public holidays)
Access: Accessible to all users or any other person wishing to use the material, in the library only.

Brief history: This library used to be the Education Library of the former Transvaal Education Department (TED). The archive collection therefore consists (or should) of all ex-TED publications from its beginning - e.g. manuals, circulars, reports, research papers, matric exam-papers, syllabi.

Acquisitions policy: All ex-TED publications. It does not include administrative information e.g. correspondence, files of the old department.

Areas of specialisation: Education in general and curriculum related areas from ex-TED.

Core holdings: Example of titles: Manual for General School Organisation. Media Guide: buyers guide for children’s books. Subject bibliography series for school libraries.

Finding aids: URICA computerized database. Card catalogue (prior to 1986). Records on computer database, marked ARG.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: 1 Parsonage Street, Graaff-Reinet, 6280
  Postal: P.O. Box 104, Graaff-Reinet, 6280
Telephone: (049) 892-3801
Fax: (049) 892-5650
Enquiries to: Head of the museum
Hours of opening: Weekdays 08h00 – 12h30 and
14h00 – 17h00
Access: By appointment only, help is provided (museum assistant). Research fee payable. Photocopies can be made.

Brief history: Reinet House opened in September 1956. Documents and photographs were collected as a natural consequence of their collection of the heritage of the people of this area.

Acquisitions policy: To collect, conserve, research and display the rich cultural history and heritage of the Camdeboo area, for the education, recreation and upliftment of the community and visitors that we serve. Our vision is to preserve and reflect the cultural history and natural heritage of all the people of the Camdeboo.

Areas of specialisation: Family history, graveyard information, local death certificates, photographs and general local history.

Core holdings: William Roe photographs.

Finding aids: Computerised databases are available for all documents (keyword search). Alphabetical list of death certificates is available. The graveyards (4) have been computerised. Storerooms, with research room and computer, will be finished in 2005.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: cnr Durban and Scott Street, Greytown, 3250
  Postal: Box 727, Greytown, 3250
Telephone: (033) 413-1171
  (033) 413-9124
Fax: (033) 417-1393
Enquiries to: The Curator
Hours of opening: Monday – Friday 08h00-16h00
Closed on public holidays
(will open by appointment)

Brief history: In 1961, the Greytown Women’s Institute was requested by the Town Council, to nominate two of its members to serve on a committee that would start collecting photographs and other items of historical interest. Mesdames Jean Tatham and Elsie Royden-Turner undertook the task, and Council provided a large room next to the Library, which was utilised for several years. The Umvoti Museum Society, which was formed in 1969, took over the work until 1972, when the Municipality acquired the present premises – the old Residency. The Museum is now administered jointly by the Greytown Town Council and a Board of Trustees, which was constituted on 31.3.1999.

The erf was originally bought for £200 in 1879, by the local District Surgeon, Dr Daniel Birtwell. The house was built with locally made bricks of mud and mortar, on foundations of locally dug shale. In 1889, the house was sold to the (then) British/Natal Colonial Government for £1500, when it became the magisterial ‘Residency’ – and utilised as such for the next 100 years.

The large wild fig (Ficus Natalensis: isiZulu = Umthombe) and it’s companion in the adjacent grounds of ‘The Drosdty’ were planted by Mrs Anna Johanna (Annie) Botha in 1879. Mrs Birtwell, a sister of General Louis Botha (who later became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, and who had been born at the nursing home of Mrs Maré at Honey/Heuningfontein, just out of town), had been married to a local business man, Mr Peter Jurgen Ellis Hellet, but after his death from a heart attack in 1874, the widowed Mrs Hellet married Dr Birtwell. (Apart from the 120-year old Ficus, there are a further 10 varieties of indigenous trees planted on the south side of the museum, on what used to be a tennis court.)

A photograph (dd 1886) of the house, which is now a National Monument, is displayed in the entrance hall. The museum currently has over 7000 other exhibits, covering diverse cultural interests.

Acquisitions policy: Most items have been donated but special interest items have been purchased. Standard museum acquisition procedures are applied.

Areas of specialisation: Local history, Victoriana, Bhambatha/Natal Rebellion 1906 (photos and records), Umvoti Mounted Rifles history (photos and records).

Core holdings: Victoriana, Umvoti mounted rifles – covering history from inception (1864) and participation in Anglo Zulu War (1878/79), Anglo Boer War (1899/1901), Bhambatha/Natal Rebellion 1906, 1st World War (1914 – 1918) and 2nd World War (1939 – 1945).

Finding aids: New brochures and pamphlets in progress.

National register participation: No.



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