HISTORICAL PAPERS: A PLATFORM FOR RESEARCH AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The Historical Papers research archive, situated in the William Cullen Library, was established in 1966. We are a friendly, vastly used, valued and popular service as well as unique and accessible hub for human rights research serving civil society, scholars and researchers. Historical Papers is one of the largest and most comprehensive independent archives in Southern Africa. We house over 3300 collections of historical, political and cultural importance, encompassing the mid 17th Century to the Present.
Our primary aim is to serve the broader community as well as the university and to transform archives into accessible centres for research. Included are the records of many human rights NGOs, trade unions, labour federations, political parties, women's organisations, churches and church bodies, and the papers of human rights activists. We are also home to a huge volume of political trials, photographs, press clippings, oral interviews, and material collected by several research institutions and individual researchers.
Our digitisation activities have been made possible with generous funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. More
On the 17 February 2011 Historical Papers and Museum Africa jointly held the opening of the FOSATU exhibition and the book launch of " 'The future is in the Hands of the Workers' A History of FOSATU". You can now download the book for FREE.
MOLEMA & PLAATJE Papers online!
The Papers of Silas Molema and Solomon Plaatje are now available online, once more thanks to a generous grant from Atlantic Philanthropies. You can find the collection under A979, also see this link. The collection has been widely used by researchers from around the world. Its digitisation will now provide global access and at the same time preserve the fragile originals. The photograph depicts Solomon Plaatje (centre), his wife Elizabeth to his right, and Silas Molema next to her (poor quality of the original).
Historical Papers will be hosting a panel discussion together with the official launch of the archive of struggle stalwart and politician Ronnie Kasrils. The event will take place on the 20 June 2013 and will be opened by our Wits Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib. During the event we will be sharing some of the exhibits from the collection, ranging from diaries taken during political school in Moscow in 1964, to audio recordings from the ANC MK camps in Angola, photographs and much more.
Building African Digital Research Content: In July 2011 the Carnegie Corporation of New York generously provided funding for the digitsation of the 4000 analogue audio tapes which are under the custodianship of Historical Papers. This project has ensured that unique, previously hard-to-find information resources are preserved and are made widely accessible. See our Guide to digital Audio on this Homepage.
Digitised collections of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
We have recently embarked on digitising collections from the archive of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, of which Historical Papers is the official repository. These particular collections are held on microfilm only, and are now available online.
Picture above: Bishops Court, Cape Town, Painting by Tinus de Jongh. Bishops Court is the official residence of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.
One of the crucial projects for the work of Historical Papers was the establishment of a fully fledged Digitisation Centre. The Centre opened its door in February 2012.
The Wits Digitisation Centre is situated in the William Cullen Library. It is equipped with the latest technology for the digital archiving of collections, as well as a small conventional conservation area.
Eventually the Centre is set to serve not only Historical Papers and the Library, but also the University and eventually the wider public.