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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.
  • Development of Radar in South Africa during Second World War
    This article by Dr Brian Austin, a former staff member of the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, published in the URSI Radio Science Bulletin, relates to the development of Radar at the Bernard Price Institute during World War II.
  • Collection of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
    Historical Papers is pleased to announce that the records of SADTU are now available for researchers. Permission to consult this collection needs to be obtained from the Office of SADTU.
  • 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.
  • John Matshikiza (1954-2008), Papers
    We are pleased to announce that the John Matshikiza Papers are now available to researchers. The 57 boxes, photographs and audio visual material bear witness to the rich life of the actor, producer, writer, musician and journalist John Matshikiza.
  • Patrick Lewis collection ONLINE!
    The Papers of Patrick Lewis, City Councillor and former Mayor of Johannesburg, have been fully digitised and are now online.
    The collection provides an insight into the Johannesburg Council's politics and race relations, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.
    The above map shows the envisaged development of the Johannesburg Urban Motorways, known as the M1 and M2.
  • 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.