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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 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.  

 Download FOSATU book
 Download Introduction
 Download Chapter 1
 Download Chapter 2 
 Download Chapter 3
 Download 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.

  • William Matlala Photographic collection
    This new collection contains about 4300 photographs by the freelance photographer William Matlala, who served the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in his capacity as photographer particularly in the 1990s. His photos cover trade union activities as well as major political events during that time.
  • Archives of the Anti-Apartheid Movement now online
    The archive of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement is now online, covering its history from 1959 to 1994.
    The website provides an insight into the activities and campaigns of the AAM through interviews, posters, t-shirts, badges and archival documents. The physical archive is stored at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
  • Oral history of the Constitutional Court
    Historical Papers has received the collection of the Constitutional Court Trust Oral History Project.
    The transcripts of the 86 interviews are available as an online collection and can be downloaded in PDF format from the website of Historical Papers. The audio recordings are accessible at the reading room of Historical Papers in the William Cullen Library.
  • Scout Stamp collection
    The South African Scout Association has deposited the Jac Joel Collection of Scout Stamps at the Historical Papers Research Archive.
    The collection consists of stock books and first-day covers comprising almost all Scout stamps from the inception of Scouting in 1908 up to 1989.
  • More digitised collections online!
    The Historical Papers Research Archive has published more online collections, again made possible with funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation.
  • Universal Declaration on Archives
    The Universal Declaration on Archives was endorsed by UNESCO in November 2011. 
    The International Council on Archives has now formed a Working Group in order to continue the work undertaken by members of the ICA.