You are here:
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Project 

Historical Papers (Library, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) and the South African History Archive (SAHA) undertook a joint digital archive initiative, sponsored by the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation, and have developed a non-commercial digital and electronic archive of material from assorted media relating to the work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which is available over the Internet. Our aim was to make TRC material available to scholars and researchers worldwide, material that has, up until now, been difficult to locate and access locally.

The Traces of Truth website was conceptualised to provide researchers with various formats and access points for browsing, searching and viewing documents, using open-source methods which are accessible using differing web browsers. There are descriptions of 306 documents, of which 232 documents can be viewed on the Historical Papers website.

Documents are provided in two forms: plain text versions result from optical character recognition (OCR), which can be searched electronically; and image files of each page which preserve the original look of the document. The website allows the user to electronically search the text content of the digitised materials or search using keywords associated with each document.

Documents are associated with the collections from which they originate and with pre-defined categories. The categories relate to the mandates set out in the TRC Act.  Additional categories highlight the pre-history and negotiations that contributed to the initiation of the TRC, and the unfinished business at the closure of the TRC. The website also provides contextual commentary for the documents, presented in the form of five essays on each category:

  • the background to, and pre-history of the TRC,
  • Human Rights Violations,
  • Amnesty,
  • Reparations,
  • Aftermath and Unfinished Business.

Additions to the TRC website may be made in the future.

You can also view the history and activities of the TRC through The South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission Videotape Collection, assembled by the South African journalist Max Du Preez. The 84 episodes of the collection have been made available online at the Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library, for educational and research purposes. Please click the link above.

Please note that the TRC Traces of Truth website can only be accessed in situ, i.e. in the Historical Papers reading room on Wits campus, using this link Here