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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 3400 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.

We continue building up our web-based delivery of digitized resources on this platform as well as 'AtoM', an acronymn for Access to Memory, which is an archival description application that is based on International Council of Archives (ICA) standards. 

Download FOSATU bookDownload IntroductionDownload Chapter 1Download Chapter 2Download Chapter 3Download Chapter 4 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.
  • Declaration on Archives in 39 languages

    Adopted by the UNESCO on the 10th November 2011, in Papiamentu, the Declaration is an important step for the understanding and awareness of archives and a powerful, succinct statement of the relevance of archives in modern society.
  • Non-Racial Sports History Project, Transvaal

    An important part of our history that has seriously been neglected is non-racial sports. This was a crucial facet of the anti-apartheid struggle and, curcially, was probably the most effective arena of independent and community-based sports in black communities. Moreover, non-racial sports was intrinsically linked to communities and their schools, and depended heavily on voluntarism for its enduring success.

    This project aims to recover, record, preserve and popularize this rich and multi-faceted history, which is reflected in the items of the collection which was now been deposited at Historical Papers.
  • The World of Nat Nakasa now digital!
    The Nathaniel Nakasa Papers have been digitised and are available on the Historical Papers website. Nat Nakasa was a journalist with the DRUM magazine, a writer of short stories and first editor of "The Classic" magazine.
  • Development of Radar in South Africa during Second World War
    We are pleased having received this article by Dr Brian Austin, a former staff member of the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, which was published in the URSI Radio Science Bulletin. It relates to the development of Radar at the Bernard Price Institute during World War II, which is displayed in our collection A3377.
    Note the painting by the author of the Northcliff Watertower, the first radar target in SouthAfrica.
  • Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
    This collection contains the papers of Archbishop Ndungane and forms part of the Archive of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa. They relate to his activities as Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, but more so on his time as the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1996-2008.
  • Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), records
    These records include documents, photographs and publications relating to the formation of the PAC and the trial of Robert Sobukwe and other leaders of the PAC in 1960.