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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.

With generous funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation we are continually building up our web-based delivery of digitized resources. 
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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.

NEWS
  • Hilda and Rusty Bernstein Papers now available online
    The collection contains the personal and political papers of Hilda and Rusty Bernstein, and is testimony to their lives for freedom and democracy in South Africa.
    It was fully digitised in 2015 with funding from Hilda and Rusty Bernstein's children.
    This photograph appeared in the Sunday Times newspaper on the 14 June 1964, just after Rusty Bernstein was aquitted on all charges in the Rivonia Trial, and out on bail to be re-charged with alleged offences under the Suppression of Communism Act.
  • Sophia Gray's sketches are digital
    The sketch book and 48 leaves of watercolours and sketches of South African landscapes are now availalbe ONLINE!

    Sophia Gray, often cited as South Africa's first woman architect, was the wife of Robert Gray, who was the first Bishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.

    She made these sketches during her long trips, often on horseback, around the Cape to KwaZulu Natal in the 1850s. The image above shows the Grey Bridge at Michell's Pass.
  • 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.
  • Bob Hepple Papers
    The Papers of Professor Sir Bob Hepple (1934-2015) are now available for research at Historical Papers. The collection was deposited by Bob Hepple during his last visit. It covers Bob Hepple's account of the Rivonia trial, and it contains invaluable documents relating to the work of his father Alex Hepple. The collection is presently being digitised for online access. (Photo: Rivonia Trial 1963)
  • ARCHIVE OF THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN STUDENTS' MOVEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA

    This collection contains the records of the YCS and its activities as an independent non-racial ecumenical Christian student movement, formed in 1970.
  • In the Doldrums: Archival Institutions in South Africa

    By Michele Pickover,
    Principal Curator: Historical Papers Research Archive


    "Archives are fundamentally political in nature and as such are mediated sites of power, ideology and memory..."