Directory entries of
Archival Repositories




Address: Street: Murchison Street, Ladysmith
  Postal: PO Box 29, Ladysmith, 3370
Telephone: (036) 637-2992
Fax: (036) 637-2992
Enquiries to: The Curator
Hours of opening: Weekdays 9h00 – 16h00
Saturdays 9h00 – 13h00
Access: Open to researchers – all levels

Brief history: Established in 1985. Large collection of documents, photographs and artefacts on siege of Ladysmith during Anglo-Boer/SA War 1899 – 1902.

Acquisitions policy: We collect material regarding the siege as well as the history of Ladysmith, including diaries, books, photographs, maps, artefacts, etc.

Areas of specialisation: Siege of Ladysmith.

Core holdings: The siege museum has an extensive number of documents in its archives (± 60 000). Most of them relate directly to the siege and Anglo Boer War, especially regarding British involvement.

Finding aids: Standard Museum nomenclature cataloguing. We have begun placing information on website.

National register participation: No.



Address: Postal: Private Bag X03, Chuenes-poort, 0745
Telephone: (015) 633-6625
Fax: (015) 633-6671
Enquiries to: The Senior Archivist
Hours of opening: 08h00-16h30
Access: Access in accordance with the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act, 1996 (as amended).

Brief history: The repository was started in 1988 by the Department of Education of the former Lebowa Homeland and Government.

Acquisitions policy: Acquisition of material in accordance with the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act, 1996 (as amended).

Areas of specialisation: There are no areas of specialization. The repository acquires its material from government institutions based in the Northern Province.

Core holdings: The repository’s core holdings comprise the following archives from the Departments of the former Lebowa Government. Files of the former head office as well as circuit office of the Department of Education. These archives are not heavily consulted. Files from the Department of Works. Files from the Department of Agriculture. Files from some magistrates under Lebowa Government namely: Seshego Magistrates Office, Naphuno Magistrate’s Office, Namakgale Magistrates Office, Nebo Magistrate’s Office, Sekhukhuni Magistrate’s Office, Prakiseer Magistrate’s Office, Thabamoopo Magistrate’s Office. These archives are presently being consulted by the Land Claims Commission.

Finding aids: Only lists of the archives exist.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: Parliament Street, Cape Town, 8001
  Postal: P.O. Box 18, Cape Town, 8000
Telephone: (021) 403-2141/2/3
Fax: (021) 461-4331
Enquiries to: The Chief Librarian
Hours of opening: Parliament in session Monday - Friday 08h45-16h00 or adjournment: Saturday 09h00-12h00, Parliament in recess Monday - Friday 09h00-16h00
Access: Bona fide researchers. None of the collections are restricted.

Brief history: The most important figure connected with the history of the Manuscript Section of the Library of Parliament is Sidney Mendelssohn. After his death in 1917 his donation of 7031 books, maps, paintings and manuscripts was transported from England to South Africa. A special section was established in the Library of Parliament to house the collection and in 1922 the Mendelssohn Section, in which all manuscripts are now kept, was opened.

Acquisitions policy: Not stated.

Areas of specialisation: Cape Politics and Parliamentary history. Anglo-Boer War. Early South African history. Freedom of the Press in South Africa. Botany. Cape Travel Descriptions. Biographies. Africana Bibliographies.

Core holdings: Cape Politics and Parliamentary history: Robert Godlonton and Afrikaner Bond collections; Freedom of the Press in S.A.: Pringle-Fairbairn collection; Botany: CH Wehdemann and EA Willmott collection; Early S.A. History: HCV Leibbrandt, George Macartney and J McKay collections; Anglo-Boer War: Christelijke Vereeniging en Jongelings Vereeniging collections; Cape Travel Descriptions: Borcherds, Bryant collections; Biographies: RM Bowker, WH Schröder collections; Africana bibliographies: Sidney Mendelssohn.

Finding aids: Card catalogue for books prior to 1980. Computerised catalogue for journals and books after 1980.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: Martin Street, Mafikeng
  Postal: P.O. Box 526, Mafikeng, 2745
Telephone: (018) 3816102
Fax: (018) 3815090
Enquiries to: The Curator
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 08h00-16h00
Saturday 10h00-13h00
Access: Other than displays, all material either in storage or in the research library is available for study on request to the curator. Material from our research library is not lent out.

Brief history: The museum was first established in 1975 as a Cape Province aided museum. The small collection at that time comprised mainly material related to the “Siege of Mafikeng” of 1899-1900. In 1988 work began to eliminate the Eurocentric bias and to establish museum displays to reflect the history and cultures of our people as a whole. This work is still continuing. In 1990 the museum was administered by the Bophuthatswana Government and, from 1994, the Government of the North West (Department of Arts, Culture and Sport). We have about 3000 artefacts on display and in storage as well as a research library of 2-3000 books, documents, papers, photographs, maps, etc.

Acquisitions policy: The museum acquires, and has acquired, almost all of its artefacts through donation. A very small portion has been acquired on loan but, like many museums today, we discourage loans, except between museums. Very few artefacts have been purchased due to lack of funds.

Areas of specialisation: Mainly cultural history of the region (Mafikeng local history and the indigenous culture and history of a region within about 200 km radius from Mafikeng).

Core holdings: Large numbers of photographs - many on display - related to the artefacts on display, e.g. that of Tswana and Khoisan culture, the Anglo-Boer War, rocks, minerals and fossils of the North West and railways, as well as the life of Sol T Plaatje.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: University of the Western Cape, Modderdam Road, Bellville, 7535
  Postal: Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535
Telephone: (021) 959-2935/2954
Fax: (021) 959-3411
Enquiries to: The Coordinator: Collections
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 10h00-15h30
(By appointment only)
Access: The Mayibuye Centre Archive is open to all bona fide researchers, by appointment only. Certain collections may be restricted, depending on donor requirements. More information is available upon request.

Brief history: The Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa is a pioneering project based at the University of the Western Cape. It focuses on all aspects of apartheid, resistance, social life and culture in South Africa. The word Mayibuye is a popular slogan meaning “let it return” in the Nguni languages. The Centre deals with aspects of South African history which were neglected in the past and aims to facilitate cultural creativity and expression in a way that encourages the process of democratic reconstruction and change. The Cabinet has recognised the importance of the Centre by recommending that it should be incorporated into the new showcase National Museum which is being established on Robben Island.

Acquisitions policy: The Mayibuye Centre collects and disseminates material relating to all aspects of apartheid, resistance, social life and culture in South Africa. Its collections comprise a range of different media types, including historical documents, photographs, audio, film-video, art, posters, cartoons and other historical memorabilia.

Areas of specialisation: The Centre has an active programme of exhibitions, conferences, workshops and community outreach activities. Recent exhibitions include “Apartheid and Resistance” which accompanied the “Anne Frank” travelling exhibition to 10 cities in South Africa and Namibia. “Margins to Mainstream: Lost South African Photographers”, exhibited at the Grahamstown Festival and then at the Africa ’95 Festival in the UK, and a retrospective exhibition of the work of the neglected octogenarian artist George Pemba organised together with the South African National Gallery. In its efforts to access materials more widely the Centre has launched a multimedia CD-ROM series “Apartheid and the History of the Struggle for Freedom in South Africa” and more recently a “Freedom Struggle Video Series” which consists of 50 documentary productions banned under apartheid. More than 80 titles have been published by Mayibuye Books in its “History and Literature Series.”

Core holdings: The Centre’s multi-media collections comprise a documentary archive, a library of more than 50 000 photographs, a film section with over 1 000 productions, an oral history project, an art collection and a publishing unit. The archive acquired papers from more than 280 individuals and organisations, including Archbishop Tutu, Kadar Asmal, Albie Sachs, the African National Congress-in-exile; the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU); the Women’s National Coalition; the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee; the General Recreation Committee which represented political prisoners on Robben Island; and the London based International Defence and Aid Fund.

Finding aids: The Centre continuously produces published guides to individual collections in its holdings. These are for sale at a cost of R15-00 each from the Mayibuye Centre Bookshop.

National register participation: The Centre has recently started making contributions to NAREM. In the near future, it plans to do the same for its audio-visual material, and contributions are currently being prepared by Mayibuye Centre staff. At this stage, the Centre is linked up to the National Registers for on-line retrieval purposes.



Address: Street: Egerton Road, Kimberley, 8301
  Postal: P.O. Box 316, Kimberley, 8300
Telephone: (053) 839-2700
Fax: (053) 842-1433
Enquiries to: The Archivist
Hours of opening: 08h00-16h00
Access: Appointment should be made in advance. Some of the documents/ manuscripts are only available with permission from the Board of Trustees.

Brief history: The document and manuscript collection dates back to 1971 with the appointment of the first Historian. Before that, the McGregor Museum was a Natural History Museum. The original building was donated by Mrs Margaret McGregor to the citizens of Kimberley to use as a museum (1907).

Acquisitions policy: Documents, manuscripts, oral histories, ephemera of social and cultural and military history events in the Northern Cape.

Areas of specialisation: Griqualand West and Kimberley. Discovery of diamonds. Land disputes in the Northern Cape. History of the Northern Frontier. Siege of Kimberley. Western Campaign of Anglo-Boer War.

Core holdings: Social and Cultural History of Kimberley. Philipson-Stow papers (formation of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.). Estates of the Griqualand West Board of Executors. Albania district. Griqualand West early history. Khu and Khwe papers. Freemasons. Aviation.

National register participation: NAREM. Linked for on-line retrieval.



Address: Street: 280 Scheiding Street, Pretoria
  Postal: 275 Jacob Maré Street, Pretoria, 0002
Telephone: (012) 322-0420/322-2805
Fax: (012) 320-2742
Enquiries to: The Curator
Hours of opening: Tuesday - Friday 07h30-15h45
Access: By appointment only.

Brief history: Original documents regarding Heys family of Melrose House.

Acquisitions policy: Original documents regarding Heys family of Melrose House. Original documents regarding Signing of Peace Treaty of Vereeniging at Melrose House. Greeting cards late 19th and early 20th century.

Areas of specialisation: As in acquisitions policy above.

Core holdings: As in acquisitions policy above.

Finding aids: Some published in Melrose House brochure.

National register participation: No.



Address: Postal: Michaelhouse, Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal, 3275
Telephone: (033) 234-1000
Fax: (033) 234-4428
Enquiries to: Michaelhouse Archives
Hours of opening: During school term. Monday, Tuesday & Friday mornings 8h30 – 12h00
Access: The Michaelhouse Archives is mainly used by present staff and boys and Old Boys who require information about people, policy and activities at the school in the past.

Brief history: The school has been in operation since 1896, where it opened in Pietermaritzburg and later in 1901, it moved to its present site at Balgowan. The archives were given a room at the school in the 1980’s and have had a part-time archivist ever since. Although some of the earlier records have been lost, the Michaelhouse Archives does keep a full set of Board Minutes, a full set of school magazines [previously known as the St Michael’s Chronicle, now known as the Michaelhouse Chronicle]. Other information such as school calendars, lists, publications, boys records, photographs and minutes of meetings are kept.

Acquisitions policy: The Michaelhouse Archives collects anything to do with the school or its Old Boys.

Areas of specialisation: As above.

Core holdings: Board of Governor Minutes [often include minutes on Finances, Planning and Building and Grounds]; Minutes of other meetings eg. Academic, Housemaster, Games, Kitchen etc.; School photographs [formal and informal]; History of theatre productions at Michaelhouse or visiting Michaelhouse; Building Plans; Old Boys records; School magazines; Newspaper cutting and articles about Michaelhouse or Michaelhousians; Staff records; Special Events [eg. Ad Portas, St Michael Award & Fellow Associate Award]; Annual events [Speech Day, Prize Giving, Galas & other sporting events]; Film & video material of the school and Memorabilia [clothing, equipment etc.].



Address: Street: Long Street, Montagu, 6720
  Postal: P.O. Box 107, Montagu, 6720
Telephone: (023) 614-1950
Fax: (023) 614-1950
Enquiries to: Museum Manager
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 8h00-17h00
Access: No restrictions.

Brief history: In 1996 all documentation in possession of the Montagu Museum was accommodated in a documentation centre - the building adjacent to the Ou Sendingkerk Museum. This centre houses the museum library - Africana and Montaguana - documents and photograph collections. We are in the process of putting everything on computer.

Acquisitions policy: See areas of specialisation below.

Areas of specialisation: Traditional Medicines Project. Ar de Vries fossil collection. Architecture of Montagu. Cultural/Historical History of Montagu.

Core holdings: Indigenous Medicinal Plant Project: 18 years research findings of medicinal plants and their uses. Area of research: Montagu District. Ongoing research, so far 120 plants have been researched. Ar de Vries Fossil Collection: Complete collection of fossils in the process of being classified and catalogued as well as researched. Montagu Architecture: Complete documentation of National Monuments; other historical buildings, Conservation Zones. Cultural/Historical History of Montagu: Theme of Museum collection pertaining to social, political, economic and religious aspects of the community.

Finding aids: Acquisition register.

National register of participation: No.



Address: Street: Moravian Theological Centre, Corner Duinefontein & Ascension Road, Heideveld, 7764, Western Cape
  Postal: PO Box 38273, Gatesville, 7766
Telephone: (021) 637-9053
Fax: (021) 637-9054
Enquiries to: The Archivist
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 8h45-13h30
Access: The Moravian Archives has a differential usership with a sporadic pattern. Researchers, Academics, postgraduate and undergraduate students of tertiary institutions such as the University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape, University Stellenbosch, UNISA and Technikons around Cape Town make use of the Moravian records. The secondary group are mostly people building family trees or people who want to ascertain the correctness of their day of birth.

Brief history: The preservation of records was consciously started at the turn of the 18th century when Superintendent Hennig (1891 – 1903) of the Moravian Mission Society in South Africa started to sort and arrange the various records and preserved them in two specially made yellow wood “kists”. This was continued by a residential minister, L.R. Schmidt, at Genadendal from 1930 until his retirement in 1948. The collection included well kept diaries, maps, correspondence and other evidential records and manuscripts. The two “kists” with its valuable treasure was buried in the garden of the manse during the Anglo-Boer (South African) war. In 1965 a fireproof strong room was erected in the “office block” on the “werf” of Genadendal. The Archives were transferred to the strong room and arranged according to accepted archival principles at that time. In 1979 the Moravian Theological Centre was erected in Heideveld, Cape Town, which included a fireproof srong room to house the Moravian archives. In 1981, the archives was transferred to the strong room in Cape Town. The Moravian Archives was never professionally arranged and the holdings became a bit congested. The archives for the period 1949 – 1998 are in the process of being professionally arranged and described.

Acquisitions policy: The Moravian archives collect primarily Moravian Church records irrespective of physical form that support the history of the Moravian Church in South Africa. The collection includes manuscripts, theses, publications, periodicals, cartographic and photographic material, microform, video and audio records. The records include some personal but mostly official church documents such as diaries, biographies and correspondence within the Church and outside with ecclesiastical bodies and South African government departments since 1737.

Areas of specialisation: The Moravian Archives has a vast collection which covers the so called “mission” period 1737 – 1948 in South Africa and world wide. This also includes the slavery period although not always explicitly recorded as such. Unfortunately the Moravian archives is lagging behind with oral histories although allegedly many oral history recordings were disposed off without authority as “not history” or “irrelevant”.

Core holdings: The missionaries left well kept up to date diaries, paintings and sketches, correspondence and up to date financial records. The registers of which the baptism registers are most frequently consulted and which 80% are now in microform. During the 1990’s it was discovered that the only complete collection of the Moravian Periodical Account (1785 – 1965) are in custody of the Library of the University of the Witwatersrand. Without any authorization, an unknown person, gave records of the Moravian Church in the Eastern Cape, called the “Baziya” collection, to the University of Umtata.

Finding aids: Records of the Moravian Archives are well listed but not yet computerised. Finding aids, index cards and catalogues were changed without updating or renewing the finding aids and lists during the period 1980 – 1994. Most finding aids were done according to the Dewey Catalogue system. Hope to have new inventories soon computerised.

National register of participation: No.



Address: Street: Churchill Square, Pietermaritz-burg, 3201
  Postal: P.O. Box 415, Pietermaritz-burg, 3200
Telephone: (033) 345-2383
Fax: (033) 394-0095
Enquiries to: Director, Msunduzi Municipal Library
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 08h30-17h00,
Saturday 08h30-13h00
Access: Accessible to everyone. Reference and Legal Deposit material may only be consulted on the premises.

Brief history: Originally named the Natal Society Library it was founded in 1851 and has provided a public library service for Pietermaritzburg ever since. Made a Legal Deposit library in 1916. Became a free, rate supported library in 1967. Taken over by the Msunduzi Municipality on 1 April 2004 and changed its name to Msunduzi Municipal Library.

Core holdings: The main emphasis of the Msunduzi Municipal Library is the collection and preservation of South African published works. It is not strictly speaking an archival repository. The core holdings are as follows: Legal Deposit Collection - books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, periodicals, etc. published in South Africa. Government Publications Collection - National, Provincial and Colonial Government Publications. Map Collection - mainly official maps of South Africa.

Areas of specialisation: South Africa in general.

Finding aids: Dewey Decimal Classification System. From 2005 the Innopac Millenium System in co-operation with the other Legal Deposit Libraries.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: 121 Bree Street, Newtown, Johannesburg
  Postal: P.O. Box 517, Newtown, 2113
Telephone: (011) 833-5624-35
Fax: (011) 833-5636
Enquiries to: The Curator, Documentation
Hours of opening: Tuesday - Friday 09h00-13h00
(or by appointment)
Access: Unrestricted.

Brief history: Started in 1935 as the Africana Museum, and renamed MuseuMAfricA in 1994. Funded by Johannesburg local government. Incorporates the Johannesburg Geological Museum, the Bensusan Museum of Photography, the James Hall Museum of Transport, the Museum of South African Rock Art and the Bernberg Fashion Museum. Primarily a museum collection, consisting of objects, but also has significant archival holdings.

Acquisitions policy: To acquire, through gift, purchase or recording, archival material in any of the Museum’s collecting fields. Photographs are heavily collected. With regard to manuscripts and audio visual formats, we would concentrate on material which is suitable for exhibition or which provides background information on objects in the collection. Often collections are split between the Museum and our sister institution, the Strange Library of African Studies.

Areas of specialisation: South African history and cultural history. South African rock art. The history of photography, with special reference to South Africa, concentrating on still photography. Geology (international).

Core holdings: Core holdings as regards archival material are: South African history (primarily photographs), with specialisation in South African portraiture, the Anglo-Boer War, Christian missionaries, tribal people and transport. Johannesburg: people, places and events (primarily photographs). South African places and buildings (primarily photographs). The Times Media Collection: photographs from newspapers such as the Rand Daily Mail, 1948-85. Louis Fourie collection of Bushman material. Manuscript maps, early South African (jointly with Strange Library). Archives of South African photographic clubs, associations, etc. 1956 Treason Trial. Boy Scouts of South Africa. Church of the Province of South Africa (photographic archive).

Finding aids: Card catalogue.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: 237 Loop Street, Pietermaritzburg, 3201
  Postal: Private Bag 9070, Pieter-maritzburg, 3200
Telephone: (033) 345-1404
Fax: (033) 345-0561
E-mail:  or
Enquiries to: The Librarian
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 08h00-16h30
Access: All.

Brief history: The first manuscript was received in 1904, the same year in which the museum was founded.

Acquisitions policy: The library collects information in any form or on any subject that will assist the Museum in carrying out its mission, through donations, or purchase.

Areas of specialisation: Indo Pacific Mollusca. Afrotropical entomology (particularly Diptera). African lower invertebrates. African arachnology. African herpetology. South African archaeology (particularly KwaZulu-Natal Stone and Iron Ages and rock art). KwaZulu-Natal anthropology (particularly relating to the Zulu or Nguni peoples). KwaZulu-Natal history (particularly 19th and early 20th centuries). Pietermaritzburg (culture, history, human and natural environment). Museology (including exhibit techniques, taxidermy, conservation etc.). South African natural history in general (zoology, botany, geology). South African Political History. History of the Natal Museum including its staff.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: 24 Hamilton Street, Arcadia, Pretoria
  Postal: Private Bag X236, Pretoria, 0001
Telephone: (012) 323-5300
Fax: (012) 323-5287
Enquiries to: The Head, National Archives Repository
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 08h00-16h00
Extended hours:
Every first Wednesday of the month 08h00-18h00
Every first and third Saturday of the month 09h00-13h00
Access: Subject to the provisions of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (No. 43 of 1996 as amended) all public records that are 20 years or older are accessible. Non-public records are accessible unless specified otherwise by the donor.

Brief history: In the Transvaal Republic, the State Secretary appointed two officials to collect, arrange and bind his official records in 1887. In 1899 the first archivist was appointed. On the formation of Union in 1910, the responsibility of archival administration was assigned to the Department of the Interior. The first legislation regarding archives was the Public Archives Act (No. 9 of 1922). In terms of this legislation, provision was made for a central archives repository for the records of central government offices, and for provincial archives repositories for archives of the provincial governments and their colonial or republican predecessors. Consequently the Transvaal Archives Depot in Pretoria, housed in the Union Buildings, had custody of the records of the Transvaal Republic, the Transvaal Colony and the Transvaal Provincial Administration. The Central Archives Depot was later established under the same administration as the Transvaal Archives Depot to cater for central government records. The Archives Act (No. 6 of 1962) extended the scope of archival legislation to the third tier of government, so that records of local authorities were also subject to its provisions. The National Archives of South Africa Act (No. 43 of 1996) enables the devolution of responsibility for provincial archives to provincial governments. None of the four provinces in the area of the former Transvaal have yet taken over responsibility for provincial archives and the National Archives continues to administer the relevant records in the interim. The previous Transvaal and Central Archives Depots are now known collectively as the National Archives Repository. In 1989 the repository occupied purpose-built facilities in Hamilton Street and vacated the Union Buildings.

Acquisitions policy: According to the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (No. 43 of 1996 as amended) all central government offices are expected to transfer their archival records which have been in existence for 20 years to the National Archives Repository. A policy regarding the acquisition of non-public records is being drawn up. It will be designed to fill the gaps in official memory and to redress the imbalances of the previous collecting activities.

Areas of specialisation: Records of central government, provincial government (Gauteng and former Transvaal), commissions of inquiry and transitional government processes. Official publications, library material on archival science and history, cartographic material and photographs. Non-public records received as donations.

Core holdings: South African Republic: State Secretary, 1829-1900. Eerste Volksraad, 1845-1900. Tweede Volksraad, 1891-1900. Commandant-General, 1880-1900. Magistrates of the South African Republic, 1842-1900. Transvaal Colony: Director of Burgher Camps, 1899-1903. Military Governor, Pretoria, 1900-1902. Red Cross, 1899-1902. South African Constabulary, 1900-1908. Secretary, Transvaal Police, 1901-1928. Transvaal Province: Native Affairs Commissioner, 1902-1984. Director of Local Government, 1897-1973. Municipalities, 1900-1977. Central Government after 1910: Department of Education, 1866-1995. Department of Native Affairs, 1880-1972. Department of Bantu Administration and Development, 1924-1976. Department of Foreign Affairs, 1912-1994. Constitutional Assembly, 1994-1996. Cabinet Minutes, 1956-1994. State Security Council, 1979-1989. Transitional Government: Convention of a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), 1991. Multi-Party Negotiating Council, 1993. Commissions of Enquiry: Sharpeville Riots, 1960. Soweto Uprising, 1976-1978. Inquiry into the death of Dr Verwoerd, 1966. Public Violence and Intimidation (Goldstone Commission), 1991-1995. Criminal court cases: Transvaal Court, 1877-1992. Witwatersrand Court, 1902-1987. Civil court cases: Transvaal Court, 1877-1980. Witwatersrand Court, 1902-1980. (Included in the civil cases are divorce cases). Water court cases, 1900-1982. Estate files (former Transvaal), 1873-1976.

Finding aids: List of Archivalia: Central Archives Depot (Government records). List of Archivalia: Transvaal Archives Depot. Guide to Accessions (Non-public records): Central Archives Depot (Afrikaans). Transvaal Archives Depot (Afrikaans). These finding aids are published by the National Archives and Records service of South Africa, as well as many of the inventories to specific archival groups. Information on a significant proportion of the holdings is available in the national automated archival information retrieval system.

National register participation: NAREM and NAREF. Linked for on-line retrieval.

66. NATIONAL CULTURAL HISTORY MUSEUM (Incorporated in the Northern Flagship Institution)


Address: Street: African Window, 149 Visagie Street (between Bosman and Schubart), Pretoria.
  Postal: PO Box 28088, Sunnyside, 0132
Telephone: (012) 324-6082
Fax: (012) 328-5173
Enquiries to: Manager, Collections Management Department
Hours of opening: Mondays – Fridays 08h00 – 16h00
Access: Appointments to be made in advance.

Brief History: The National Cultural History Museum’s history dates back to the founding of the “Staatsmuseum” in the South African Republic (ZAR) in 1892. The collecting policy of the “Staatsmuseum” covered a wide brief, including history and natural sciences. Manuscripts were among the first objects collected for the new museum. The history section of the Transvaal Museum (as the “Staatsmuseum” was called from 1901) became an independent institution in 1964 namely the National Cultural History Museum. In 1998 the status of the National Cultural History Museum changed once agin with the establishment of the Northern Flagship Institution which incorporates three national museums namely the National Cultural History Museum, South African National Museum of Military History and the Transvaal Museum.

Acquisitions policy: The National Cultural History Museum collects objects relating to the cultural heritage of South Africa. Collections span the subject fields archaeology, anthropology and cultural history. In addition to historical artefacts the museum also collects manuscripts, ephemera and other documents of various physical forms which support research on the museum’s fields of interest.

The Document and Manuscript collections include personel documents such as diaries, letters and memoirs, also family papers, genealogies, newspapers, periodicals, maps, books, pamphlets, music etc. The Historical Photograph collection includes albums, photos and negatives.

The Museum Archive houses the National Cultural History Museum’s institutional records including correspondence, research reports, council minutes, annual reports, other museum publications, audio records and ephemera.

Areas of specialisation: The National Cultural History Museum has material on all areas in South Africa with the emphasis on Pretoria/Tshwane, Gauteng and the former Transvaal province.

Core holdings: Anglo Boer War collection (photographs and documents); Bosman collection (Documents and publications from Piet Bosman household ca. 1920'’); Kruger collection (photographs and documents of Pres. SJP Kruger); Willem Prinsloo collection (photographs and documents of WP Prinsloo family, 1900 – 1950); Coert Steynberg collection (photographs and documents of artist); Tokens of honour (Pres. SJP Kruger and Gen. Louis Botha collections); Handwritten family trees; Religious books including Bibles and Hymn books); Children’s books; Maps; Music scores (Africana music, including Anglo Boer War music); Photographs (Pretoria 1880 – 1910) and Photographs (Pretoria photographer Dotman Pretorius, ca 1950 – 1990).

Finding aids: Computerised acquisitions registers and inventories of Manuscript, Document and Photograph collections. Unpublished lists of Museum archive.

National register participation: No.



Address: Street: 87 Beaufort Street, Grahams-town, 6140
  Postal: Private Bag 1019, Grahams-town, 6140
Telephone: (046) 622-7042
Fax: (046) 622-2582
Enquiries to: Collections: A Torlesse – Senior Archivist, E-mail:
Research: C Warren – Literary Re-searcher, E-mail:
General: M Hacksley – Director,
Hours of opening: Monday - Friday 08h30-13h00,
Access: Researchers have access to collection material during hours of opening. Some depositors have placed embargoes on certain manuscripts.

Brief history: The National English Literary Museum began as a project of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) to collect source material which was to form the Thomas Pringle Collection for English in Africa, founded and sponsored by the ISEA in 1972. The collection became the nucleus of the independent National English Documentation Centre, established in 1974. This centre was gazetted a Declared Cultural Institution in 1980, and named the National English Literary Museum in 1982.

Acquisitions policy: The museum collects and preserves material evidence pertaining to all forms of imaginative Southern African literature written in English, and collections include manuscripts, printed books and journals as well as press clippings and audiovisual materials.

Areas of specialisation: Where possible we keep manuscript drafts, authors’ diaries and correspondence with publishers - this enables scholars to trace the development of a literary work through all its stages. Our extensive literary holdings are complemented by a large amount of research material relating to South African theatre and the history of publishing firms in South Africa.

Core holdings: The papers of a broad spectrum of Southern African writers. Major collections include those relating to Athol Fugard, Tatamkhulu Afrika, Dennis Brutus, Sir Percy FitzPatrick, Jack Cope, Barney Simon, Guy Butler, Joy Packer, Frank Brownlee, Lionel Abrahams and Leon Gluckman. We also hold important manuscripts relating to Roy Campbell and Olive Schreiner. Our Publishing holdings include the archives of David Philip Publisher (Pty.) Ltd. and various other publishers. We hold press clippings files on over 5700 writers and literary topics, and these files are continually updated.

Finding aids: Comprehensive databases relating to our holdings are maintained. In depth indexing of our printed holdings enables us to conduct detailed searches on authors and literary topics. Our databases are available on a CD-Rom distributed by NISC (National Inquiry Services Centre) and internet access to these databases is also available via NISC’s online world wide web search service known as Biblioline. (See NISC’s Home Page at ).

National register participation: Yes.



Address: Street: 698 Church Street East, Arcadia, Pretoria
  Postal: Private Bag X236, Pretoria, 0001
Telephone: (012) 343-9767
Fax: (012) 344-5143
Enquiries to: Head: Service Provisioning and Outreach
Hours of opening: Monday - Thursday 08h00-16h00
(Outside of these times by special arrangement only)
Access: Access is limited to bona fide students and researchers. NFVSA staff will assist in locating relevant material, using manual and computerised finding aids. No fees are charged for this service. To view or listen to material, an appointment must be made in advance. Usually three days’ notice is required to allow material to acclimatise after being removed from climatically controlled storage. Material may only be accessed on NFVSA premises. Tariffs are available on request. The written permission of the copyright holder is required before any material may be duplicated.

Brief history: During the Second World War, a film unit was established in the Department of Defence to produce and distribute training, information and propaganda films. After the War, the production unit was transferred to the Department of Education to produce films for government departments and was known as Film Services. The De Villiers investigation carried out in 1956 resulted in legislation establishing the National Film Board on 1 April 1964 (Act No. 73 of 1963). In terms of the Act, the National Film Board was to assist in the promotion of the film industry. Other functions were tracing, accessioning, restoration, preservation and making available of films which were made in or about South Africa, irrespective of the format. To carry out these functions, a section was established within the National Film Board known as the South African Film Institute, which was loosely based on the British Film Institute. The name was later changed to the National Film Archives. On 31 December 1979 the activities of the National Film Board were terminated, with the exception of the National Film Archives. The latter was transferred to the Department of National Education. It became part of the National Archives in 1982. In 1985 its name was changed to National Film, Video and Sound Archives (NFVSA). NFVSA attained full membership of the International Association of Sound Archives in 1989 and provisional membership of the Federation of International Film Archives in 1996. A new Legal Deposit Act (No. 54 of 1997) was passed and now makes provision for the mandatory deposit of audio-visual materials. Public and non-public material is also acquired according to the provisions of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (No. 43 of 1996 as amended). In many cases non-public material is acquired by means of voluntary donation as well.

Acquisitions policy: NFVSA collects audio-visual and related material which was made in or about South Africa. Material is deposited and donated by the film, video and sound industries, as well as private persons. Some material is purchased or exchanged. State generated material is transferred periodically in terms of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (No. 43 of 1996 as amended).

Areas of specialisation: See acquisitions policy.

Core holdings: Records in the following media acquired in terms of the acquisitions policy: audio tapes, audio cassettes, gramophone records, compact discs, films, video tapes and related materials. The most heavily consulted groups at present are the film and video collections. All the above-mentioned records are equally significant in terms of NFVSA’s acquisitions policy.

Finding aids: Computer retrieval system. UNITERM index cards. Acquisition registers. Title lists. African Mirror newsreels catalogues. Guide to Films, Volumes 1 and 2 (published). Guide to Audio Cassettes, Volumes 1-4 (published). Guide to Compact Discs, Volumes 1 and 2 (published). Guide to Gramophone Records, Volumes 1-20 (published).

National register participation: NFVSA contributes to NAROM and is linked for on-line retrieval.



Address: Street: 05 Queen Victoria Street
  Postal: PO Box 496, Cape Town, 8001
Telephone: (021) 424-6320
Fax: (021) 423-3359
Enquiries to: The National Librarian
Hours of opening: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 09:00 – 17:00
Wednesday: 10:00 – 17:00
Address: Street: 239 Vermeulen Street
  Postal: PO Box 397, Pretoria, 0002
Telephone: (012) 321-8931
Fax: (012) 325-5984
Hours of opening: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 08:30 – 16:00
Wednesday: 09:30 – 16:00

Brief history: Until 1 November 1999, for historical reasons, South Africa had two national libraries, the South African Library founded in 1818, in Cape Town, and the State Library, founded in 1887, in Pretoria. In terms of South African legal deposit legislation, each of the national libraries was a legal deposit library, entitled to receive from the publishers a gratis copy of every book, serial, newspaper, government publication or other printed item published in South Africa.

National Library of South Africa: Cape Town Campus (previously The South African Library). The South African Library was the oldest library in the country. Its origins date back to 1818 when Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape Colony, issued a proclamation launching the South African Public Library. Somerset stipulated that a wine tax would be levied “to place the means of knowledge within the reach of the youth of this remote corner of the Globe, and bring within their reach what the most eloquent of ancient writers has considered to be one of the first blessings of life, ‘Home Education’.” The Library’s first significant acquisition was the collection of Joachim Nicolaus von Dessin, who bequeathed his books to the Dutch Reformed Church in 1761 to serve as the foundation of a public library. In 1820 the board of trustees decided to donate the Dessinian Collection to the new library. In 1873 the South African Public Library became a legal deposit library for the Cape Colony, and from 1916 it received all printed items published throughout the country.

National Library of South Africa: Pretoria Campus (previously The State Library) The “Staats-Bibliotheek der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek” came into being thanks to a donation of books from the Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde. These books consisted of a complete library of Dutch works, mainly Dutch literature and language, to the Transvaal Republic’s government. In 1893 strong public support and a collection of oe700 saw another public library arise, this time under the wing of the Staats-Bibliotheek and with the bookstock of the former Public Library. From that time onward until 1964, the State Library performed a dual role as public library and national library.

Acquisitions policy: The collection policy of the National Library is to acquire documents in various media from and about South Africa. Other Southern African countries are covered selectively, and the national research collection is supported by material of a general nature. The National Library also boasts extensive holdings of manuscript material and of official United States and United Nations publications. The largest portion of these works is received in terms of legal deposit legislation. The Legal Deposit Act (1997) makes provision for a copy of every document published in South Africa to be deposited at each of the five legal deposit libraries. Of these, the National Library holds the most complete collection.

Areas of specialisation: South African material.

Core holdings: The National Library’s core collection, transferred to the institution by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1820, is the Dessinian Collection, a notable private library bequeathed to the inhabitants of Cape Town in 1761. During the 19th and 20th centuries its resources were augmented by a number of significant donations of printed and manuscript material. These collections, together with the National Library’s comprehensive legal deposit holdings, constitute a treasury of knowledge from which to build new histories, write new stories and research South Africa’s collective, closely intertwined past.

Some of the National Library’s key collections are detailed below.

The Africana Collection

The National Library has an excellent collection of Africana, built up from legal deposit, purchased and donated items. A few key examples of work in the Africana collection are mentioned here. The earliest sightings of the Cape, recorded in numerous accounts and collections of voyages, are well represented. The collection for example includes the only first edition in a South African library of Samuel Purchase, Purchase his pilgrimage (London, 1613). Early descriptions of South Africa include a first edition of Olfert Dapper, Naukeurige beschrijvinge der Afrikaensche gewesten… (Amsterdam, 1668), a detailed description of the African continent.

The Grey Collection

Sir George Grey (Governor of the Cape from 1854 to 1861) was an astute collector accumulating a remarkable library and 1861 he decided to present it to the South African Public Library. His collection includes a page from an almanac printed in Cape Town by Ritter in 1796, the first example of South African printing, and also includes the only extant copy of the poem De Maan by the Rev. Meent Borcherds which appeared in 1802. The products of the early South African mission presses were also preserved by Grey, including many rare pamphlets and tracts published at stations such as Lovedale, Mount Coke, Beersheba, Platberg and Kuruman. In many cases these are the earliest printed texts in some of the indigenous languages of Southern Africa, and they form an invaluable part of South Africa’s heritage. Grey was a discerning bibliophile , and his 5 000 volume collection includes 117 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and 119 incunabula. A copy of the four Gospels in Latin, made between A.D. 875 and 900, is the oldest manuscript in Southern Africa.

Official Publications

South Africa: The National Library has extensive holdings of South African central and local government publications (1910-1994), mostly received under legal deposit, as well as publications issued by the historic Cape, Transvaal, Natal and Orange Free State governments. The National Library continues to build its collections with material emanating from the national government and the nine provincial governments in line with new national requirements for Official Publications Depositories.

Southern Africa: The National Library holds important collections of official publications from neighbouring SADC states such as South West Africa/Namibia, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi. It has also acquired a very large collection of British Parliamentary papers relating to Southern Africa.

Foreign countries and international organisations: The National Library has significant collections of foreign official publications obtained in terms of various agreements, the first of which was signed in 1898 between South Africa and the United States. South Africa is the only African country besides Egypt that has full depository status for US Federal Government publications.


Manuscript Collections: The National Library has in the course of its history accumulated almost 1000 collections of manuscript material that provide a documentary record of the social, cultural, political and economic development of South Africa as a whole and of specific sectors of its people. Collections of personal papers include those of Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr, John X. Merriman, J.C Molteno, W.P Schreiner, Olive Schreiner, Clare Goodlatte, G.P. Hoogenhout, C. Louis Leipoldt, Ruth Prowse and John Knox Bokwe. Most noteworthy of the pictorial items in the Manuscript Collections are the anonymous Khoi sketches (ca. 1700), now published, and the !Kung drawings in the Bleek Collection.

The WHI Bleek Collection: One of the National Library’s most important manuscript collections is the W.H.I. Bleek Collection. Wilhelm Bleek (1827-75) is significant in South Africa’s history because he was the first person to conduct a formal and in-depth study of any of the Southern African San languages. The Bleek Collection has 3 components lodged at 3 sites, namely the Cape Town campus, the Manuscripts and Archives Library of the University of Cape Town and the South African Museum. The components at the University and the National Library are listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

Atlases and maps

The National Library has a large collection of early and modern maps and atlases, having specific emphasis on Southern Africa. The earliest published atlas in the collection is the fourth edition of Mercator, Atlas sive Cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura (1619).

Pictures and art

The National Library’s photo albums, photographs and prints have been acquired over a period of many years and the earliest items date back to the 1850s. The picture collection also contains some 10 000 postcards of South African interest, as well as a number of glass postitives and negatives which are noteworthy as regards the history of photography in South Africa. The National Library has extensive holdings of press images, including more than 50 000 negatives donated by the Cape Times newspaper, covering the period 1930-85.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The National Library holds large collections of bound original newspapers and microfilmed newspapers, the core of which are South African newspapers and journals. This includes a number of special titles, for instance the comprehensive collection of the Cape Colonial Office, received as a donation in 1910. Holdings include the first South African newspaper, The Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser (1800), which subsequently became the Government Gazette of the Cape. Of note are those early South African titles that were aimed at a predominantly Black and/or Coloured readership, including some of the few surviving copies of the South African Spectator (1901-1902) edited by Francis Peregrino, and of Koranta ea Becoana (1901-1903), edited by Sol Plaatje.

Newspaper clippings

The clippings and scrapbook collections cover the period from 1919 to 1996, when press clipping were replaced by electronic full-text searching.

Anglo-Boer War material

The National Library holds hundreds of items pertaining to this war, distributed throughout its collections, ranging from books and newspapers to manuscripts, maps and photographs.

Donated Collections

The National Library has significant numbers of donated private collections, some of which remain open and continue to grow as appropriate material is acquired.

Fairbridge Collection: The Fairbridge Collection consists of about 7 000 books assembled by the Cape bibliophile Charles Aken Fairbridge (1824-93). Renowned for its examples of fine printing and superior bindings.

Hofmeyr Collection: Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr (1845-1909) was a member of the erstwhile Cape Parliament, and his widow donated his private papers to the library.

Wessels Collection: A bequest in 1913 of over 2 000 books from Marthinus Wessels, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, this collection consists primarily of literary works, grammars and dictionaries in foreign languages.

John Armstrong Collection of Vocal Music: This collection, comprising vocal music contains over 1 200 items.

Churchill Collection: Frank Oliver Fleetwood Churchill (1861-1934) was a senator in the Union Parliament from 1910. He bequeathed a collection of 250 volumes, chiefly on genealogy, to the Library.

Cookery Collections: C. Louis Leipoldt (1880-1947) was a man of wide cultural interests. In addition to being a journalist, poet, botanist and physician, he was also a culinary expert, and the Library now holds Leipoldt’s comprehensive book collection on all aspects of cookery, diet and wine.

Muir Mathematical Collection: The National Library holds the working library of Sir Thomas Muir, a world-renowned mathematician who specialised in algebra. It consists of about 2 500 books and serials and is an open collection.

Pama Collection of Heraldry and Genealogy: Dr Cornelis Pama was a well-known writer on heraldry and genealogy. Having been a regular user of the reading room, he donated his extensive working collection of over 800 volumes to the Library. The Library continues to add available works on South African genealogy to its holdings.

Schapera Etiquette Collection: Isaac Schapera was Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town from 1935 to 1950. He presented his etiquette collection in 1950.

Springbok Memorial Collection: This collection was brought together by Mrs Ann Lidderdale as a mark of gratitude from the British people for the part played by the South African forces during World War II. Nearly 1 000 volumes were presented to the Library in 1946, many of which were autographed by prominent contributors.

Finding aids: Fully indexed computer entries (available for most collections). The National Library’s OPAC is available via the National Library website. TSS and MSS finding aids. South African National Bibliography. Bibliographies of works in isiXhosa, Sepedi, Setswana and isiZulu.

National register participation: NAREM. Linked for on-line retrieval.



Address: Street: 36 Aliwal Street, Bloemfontein.
  Postal: PO Box 266, Bloemfontein, 9300
Telephone: (051) 447-9609
Fax: (051) 447-6273
Enquiries to: National Museum Librarian
Hours of opening: Monday – Friday: 8h00 – 13h00;
13h10 – 16h15
Access: The National Museum library has an open door policy. It is primarily a research library for the staff of the museum in their differentiated fields of research, but users include researchers from all over the world, as well as students and scholars from local educational institutions and members of the public, visitors and tourists.

Brief history: The museum was founded in May 1878. “Books” mentioned for the first time in the minutes of a museum meeting in 1900. Donation of the first book in 1914. First journals accessioned were Annals of the South African Museum, Annals of the Transvaal Museum and Records of the Albany Museum. Dr van Hoepen, Director of the Museum, did the library work himself and from 1930 – 1945, Miss M Smith assisted him. Dr A van Gast, was the first official librarian. The library has developed into a specialised library within the National Museum service.

Acquisitions policy: The line functions are preservation of existing information resources, collection of all available information needed for research projects launched by departments of the museum, accession of all new information. To make new information accessible to users, promotion of library functions and collection, and public relations with other information centres and maintenance of exchange agreements with 300 national and international information and research partners.

As an information centre, it endeavours to develop and support the functions of research and education. It is part of the museum and subscribes to its mission, objectives and functions and promotes an understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of our natural and cultural environment. It engenders among citizens from all backgrounds a sensitivity for our heritage and creates an understanding of art, science and culture. The library houses a large amount of scientific information including books, journals, pamphlets (i.e. interlibrary loans: articles and books), maps and CD’s. Some of the books date back to the 17th and the journals to the 19th century. The library houses the museum’s own publications and exchanges them with 77 national and 257 international exchange partners. They contribute to a large number of information material accessioned annually. In the 2002 – 2003 period the library received a considerable number of donations from the Library of Congress and bookshops.

Areas of specialisation: The holdings are particularly specialised with regard to the research departments and fields of the museum, i.e. Natural Sciences: Acarology, Botany, Entomology, Florisbad Quaternary Research, Herpetology, Mammalogy, Ornithology and Paleontology. Human sciences: Archaeology, Anthropology, History (Bloemfontein and Free State), Rock art, Fine arts (Oliewenhuis art museum) and Education. Although most of the collection is highly specialised, the library also has sufficient information of more popular publications for educational purposes.

Core holdings: The holdings are extensive and cover all research disciplines. About 300 books are in a safe because of their authentic and irreplaceable value in terms of publication dates (from the 17th century onwards) and historical value, e.g. History of Africa and Southern Africa: Earliest voyages and travels, expeditions and explorations. Missionary societies and Christian missions in Southern Africa; History of Bloemfontein and Free State (books and documentation); Anglo-Boer War; History of the Cape of Good Hope and records of the Dutch East India Company. Earliest Bibles and religious books by Thomas A Kempis and John Bunyan. Earliest atlases of the world and maps. Law books. Zoological and Ornithological records and descriptions. Fossils and Paleontology. Anthropological records and descriptions. Cape to Cairo Railways project.

Finding aids: Current journal articles, all books and pamphlets (inter-library loans), maps and CD’s are computerised (Inmagic Programme). The card catalogue is still available. The journals (exchanged and subscription) are accessioned separately.

National register participation: No.



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