A list of organisations and institutions relating to the archive with links to their websites.

Archival Institutions


List of archives and archival collections relating to South African history. It’s always growing: please send us details of collections so we can grow the list.

ABSA Group Archives
The ABSA Group Archives include archival records, business records, manuscripts, personal papers, photographs, film or videotapes, soundrecordings, posters and artifacts.

African Activist Archives
This project is preserving records and memories of activism in the United States to support the struggles of African peoples against colonialism, apartheid, and social injustice from the 1950s through the 1990s. It also has a comprehensive list of archives relating to South Africa that are located outside the country.

African Online Digital Library

A portal to a rich collection of mutimedia archival about Africa.

African Language Materials Archive (ALMA)
The African Language Materials Archive, or ALMA, is a multi-partner project focusing on the promotion and documentation of literature and literacy in the languages of Africa. It further serves to assist African language authors and publishers in publicizing and distributing their work.

Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archive
Shortly after Alan Paton’s death in 1988, his widow, Mrs Anne Paton, made available a large part of the contents of Paton’s study for the establishment of a permanent living memorial to him.  His study has been recreated at the Alan Paton Centre, and contains most of his books, journals, awards and memorabilia.

Aluka Archives on cultural heritage in Africa and struggles for freedom in South Africa
These digitised collections were gathered through partnerships with participating institutions in Africa and are now provided through JSTOR.

African National Congress (ANC), online resources
Online resource for documents that were either produced by the ANC, about the role of the ANC and its allies in the struggle for liberation or directly concerned with the ANC.

The Afriterra Foundation map database
This database currently contains more than 1400 maps focused on Africa, freely accessible.

Ancestry24 is a South African ancestral and genealogical online service offering databases relevant to South African family researchers. Access to a large number of these is free while others require a subscription.

Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive at the NMF
This web-based resource aims to provide an overview of anti-apartheid archival records.

Archives Hub
Provides searchable online access to finding aids of collections in UK universities and colleges, including much South African material

Archives of the Dutch Reformed Church, Natal
The archives contain historic documents, minutes, correspondence, photographs and books.

Archives of the Dutch Reformed Church, Orange Free State
The archives contain ecclesiastical records and photographs.

Bailey’s African History Archives
Bailey’s African History Archives holds 40 years of material from all the editions of Drum Magazine and its various sister publications - Golden City Post, Trust, True Love and City Press. The Archives contains a wealth of information from politics to culture and complexities of the vast Anglophone African nations.

Barloworld Ltd Archives
The archive contains business records; manuscripts; personal papers; photographs and maps.

Basel Mission Images archive
Pictures from the Basel mission archive, 1850-1950, including some taken in South Africa.

Beat It! AIDS Archives
The website allows access to footage, a vast anthropological trawl through the vectors of transmission, prevention, treatment, care and support of HIV, produced for the Siyayinqoba Beat It! Television programme.

The Brenthurst Library
The Brenthurst Library is responsible for acquiring, managing and preserving the collection which consists of manuscripts, artworks, rare books, pamphlets and maps relating to southern Africa.

British Concentration Camps of the South African War 1900-1902
This website contains a database of Concentration Camps, people and farms.

Campbell Collections of the University of Natal
Campbell Collections holds major resources for research into the history and culture of southern Africa and KwaZulu-Natal.

Cory Library for Historical Research
The Cory Library at Rhodes University in Grahamstown is situated in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The Library collects material of all kinds to support research into the history of Southern Africa.

Don Africana Library
The library is named after David Don, a Durban businessman, whose Africana collection was donated to the Durban Public Library in 1916. This bequest forms the nucleus of the present collection of rare books, maps, pamphlets and journals.

The DISA project archive
DISA is a freely accessible online scholarly resource focusing on the socio-political history of South Africa, particularly the struggle for freedom during the period from 1950 to the first democratic elections in 1994.

FedFlix is a joint venture between and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), providing video footage from the US government free to the public. Some of this footage concerns South Africa and it is fully searchable on the database Internet Archive at

First National Bank Archives
Includes inter alia, minutes, annual reports, balance sheets, various ledgers and signature books, photographs (staff and premises) and various other documents pertaining to First National Bank and its predecessors.

Hillwood Art Museum
Digitised collection of African textiles.

Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has a considerable number of photographs from and relating to Africa.

Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre, University of Durban-Westville
Contains archival records, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, film or videotapes, sound recordings, ephemera, grey literature, posters, artifacts,personal papers, oral history.

A resource for South African genealogical research. Free online data includes a selection of 19th century baptismal certificates, various VOC indexes and a number of related digital books including a guide to conducting genealogical research.

Genealogical Institute of South Africa (GISA)
GISA was established to collect and preserve genealogical source material, conduct genealogical research with a view to rendering a service and to publish genealogies and family histories of all South African families. Genealogical data of selected families (over 50 000 names) is available for free on their website.

Genealogical Society of South Africa (GSSA)
eGSSA is the virtual branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa and a resource for genealogists and family historians seeking research guidance, publications and materials. Free access to online library of South African newspapers, books, archival documents, photographs of gravestones and post-cards.

Genealogy World
This website includes a wealth of information of use to South Africans interested in research family history. Apart from links to various databases, for national and international, it also offers guidance on how to conduct research.

International Institute of Social History Anti-Apartheid and Southern Africa Collection
Visual material (posters, buttons, T-shirts, bags, banners, flags, etc.) and photographs in this collection of former anti-apartheid groups, catalogues available online.

The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation in the US, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. It has a large number of videos, texts and sound files on South African history and cultural issues.

International Library of African Music, Rhodes University
ILAM houses the largest archive of African music in sub Saharan Africa.

Internet Mission Photography Archive
The Internet Mission Photography Archive offers historical images from Protestant and Catholic missionary collections in Britain, Norway, Germany, and the United States. The photographs, which range in time from the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, offer a visual record of missionary activities and experiences in Africa, China, Madagascar, India, Papua-New Guinea, and the Caribbean.

The isiXhosa National Lexicography Unit, Fort Hare University
The isiXhosa National Lexicography Unit, (formerly Xhosa Dictionary Project) is a culmination of a project of the University of Fort Hare which started in 1968, in response to a need for a modern, definitive, scientific standard isiXhosa dictionary.

John Marshall Ju/‘hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection
The John Marshall Ju/‘hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection 1950-2000, held at the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Studies Film Archives, provides a unique example of sustained audiovisual documentation of one cultural group, the Ju/‘hoansi, of the Kalahari Desert in northeastern Namibia, over half a century.

Kirby Collection, College of Music, University of Cape Town
The Kirby Collection is a unique and irreplaceable pre-urbanization example of the musical heritage of Southern Africa.

Mayibuye Archives
This centre houses a vast and historically important collection of material relating to South Africa´s anti-apartheid struggle.

The National Archives and Records Service
The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa was established by promulgation of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act No 43 of 1996 as amended).

The National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre (NAHECS)
NAHECS was established in 1981 on the basis of the former Xhosa Literature Centre, attached to the then Faculty of Arts. The objective of the centre was to accumulate, document and preserve oral and written literary material pertinent to the Xhosa Language with the purpose of making it accessible to various researchers and the public.

National Library of South Africa
The National Library of South Africa is a custodian and provider of the nation’s key knowledge resources.

No Easy Victories: sources on Apartheid history
Contains also a Guide to Sources of Liberation Posters

Perry-Castañeda Library map collection
20th century maps of Africa produced by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army.

Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education Library, Special Collections
Linked to the North West University, only valid students with studentcards will be able to access the library.

Provincial Archives Services

Rivonia Trial database
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has launched an online Rivonia Trial database that documents records and artefacts held in 166 collections and 62 institutions worldwide.

The SADET project has a good links page for anti-apartheid archives.

Sanlam Archives
Access is restricted to Sanlam management and employees.

South African History Archive
The South African History Archive (SAHA) is an independent human rights archive dedicated to documenting and providing access to archival holdings that relate to past and contemporary struggles for justice in South Africa.

South African History Online
This teaching resource has a good collection of online documentation of its own and links to other online resources for history teaching and research.

South African Music Archive Project
SAMAP is an online resource of South African music associated with our cultural heritage, promoting multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research in the field of popular music and culture.

Standard Bank Archives
Administrative records of the Standard Bank of SA from 1862 to the present.

TANAP digital archives
The TANAP project has digitised large quantities of records relating to the Dutch East India Company, which are accessible online.

Textile Museum of Canada
The Textile Museum of Canada has digitized and documented their vast collection of textiles from Africa and elsewhere in the world.

University of Cape Town Libraries, Manuscripts and Archives Department
This department has an extensive collection of original research material. Subjects covered include art, music, education, literature and language, botany, politics and architecture.

University of Florida Map and Imagery Library
There are a number of African maps in this collection, some of which are digitised and available online.

University of Fort Hare Library Archival Collections
These include the Howard Pim collection of rare books and liberation struggle archives

University of Illinois “The Maps of Africa to 1900” digital collection
The Maps of Africa to 1900 digital collection contains images of maps listed in the bibliography Maps of Africa to 1900: A Checklist of Maps in Atlases and Geographical Journals in the Collections of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Bassett & Scheven, Urbana: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 2000).

University of Johannesburg (UJ) Library, Rare Book Collection
Contains archival records, business records, manuscripts, personal papers, newspapers, photographs, ephemera and artifacts.

University of KwaZulu Natal Library
Contains sound recordings, music, and other archival records.

University of Limpopo Library, Special Collections

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Films
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Film collections are a rich source of information on archaeology of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bible Lands, Mesoamerica, Asia and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as ethnographies and artefacts from the Americas, Africa and Polynesia.

University of Pretoria Library, Special Collections
Special Collections is a self-contained unit in the University of Pretoria Library Services. The mission of the Special Collections unit is to play a stewardship role in the preservation and proper archiving of its information resources and to ensure their optimal accessibility to the research community.

University of South Africa Library, Archival and Special Collections
The Archives and Special Collections contain a number of very valuable and unique collections. These collections are kept under archival conditions and may be accessed via the computer catalogue, printed catalogues and other finding aids.

University of Stanford guide to African map collections
A list of useful links for African map collections.

University of Stellenbosch, J.S. Gericke Library, Special Collections
The JS Gericke Library is the central library of the US Library Service. The Library Service comprises the central library, five branch libraries and some departmental collections, all which are dispersed over three campuses.

University of Witwatersrand, Historical Papers
It houses over 3000 separate collections of historical, political and cultural importance. Historical Papers is one of the largest and most comprehensive independent archives in Southern Africa.

Yale University Art Gallery online
Digital images of almost all the African objects in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery are available for teaching purposes on eCatalogue.

Posted: October 28, 2009 | Permalink

This is a very incomplete list: feel free to contact us to add or amend entries.

SA History Online has a good list of museums around the country. ICOM SA now has a map of museums and heritage institutions on Google maps.

Adler Museum of Medicine
The Adler Museum of Medicine preserves the history of the health sciences in Southern Africa, with special reference to Gauteng. It exists to supplement the educational activities of the University of the Witwatersrand, especially the Faculty of Health Sciences, by means of collections, research, teaching, exhibitions and publications.

Albany Museum
The Albany Museum, located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province, was established in 1855 and is the second oldest museum in South Africa. It is a provincial museum funded by the Department of Sport Recreation Arts and Culture of the Eastern Cape government and is an affiliated research institute of Rhodes University.

Amathole Museum
The Amathole Museum, a Natural and Cultural History Museum, has an international reputation, and is situated in King Williams Town, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. It was founded in 1884.

Anglo-Boer War Museum
This museum is in Bloemfontein.

Benoni Museum
The exhibitions cover the the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, Southern African pottery, weaving, beadwork, musical instruments, herb garden, military memorabilia and contemporary art.

District Six Museum
The District Six Museum, established in December 1994, commemorates the life of District Six and the history of forced removals more generally.

Durban Art Gallery
The Durban Art Gallery collections include everything from current and historical art and artefacts of KwaZulu-Natal to English masterpieces, from anonymous carvings, clay pots and beadwork to the works of celebrated South African artists.

East London Museum
The East London Museum has a variety of galleries to suit the interest of most people.

Graaff-Reinet House Museum
Exhibits show cultural history and natural heritage of the inhabitants of the Camdeboo area.

Huguenot Memorial Museum
This museum is in Franschhoek and deals with the history of the Huguenots in South Africa.

Iziko Museums
This large group of museums includes the South African Museum, the SA National Gallery, the Slave Lodge, the William Fehr Collection and other institutions in Cape Town.

Johannesburg Art Gallery
It is the biggest gallery in the sub-continent, with a collection larger than that of the South African National Art Gallery in Cape Town.

Josephine Mill
The Mill Museum was bequeathed to the Cape Town Historical Society by Myra East in 1975.

Kleinplasie, Living Open Air, Worcester Museum
The museum was opened to the public in 1981. It shows the lifestyle of the earlier agricultural community. Each building represents a particular agricultural sector in the Western Cape during the period between 1690 and 1900. In and around these buildings, a variety of home and agricultural industries are being demonstrated to the public.

Kwa Muhle Museum, The Local History Museums
Built in 1928 for the specific purpose of administering and controlling the affairs of the African urban population in Durban, the local landmark which is now Kwa Muhle Museum is undeniably central to the history and development of the city of Durban as we know it today.

Kwazulu Cultural Museum, Ondini
The KwaZulu Cultural Museum at Ondini, near Ulundi, was opened in 1984 and houses one of the most representative collections of the rich cultural heritage of KwaZulu Natal.

Luthuli Museum
The Luthuli Museum, a declared national institution which oversees the preservation of the life, history and philosophies of Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Chief Albert Luthuli, (1898–1967) opened in 2004.

McGregor Museum
The McGregor Museum was officially founded on the 24th September 1907 when the title deeds were handed over to the Management Committee.

MuseuMAfricA is a major history and cultural history museum, with collections of national importance in historical drawings, paintings and photographs, ethnology, Cape silver, stamps, coins and medals, rock art, and geology. Displays cover the prehistory and social history of Johannesburg, and the Treason Trial, 1956-1961.

Natal Museum
The Natal Museum, has collections of South African mammals, birds, amphibians, insects and mollusks as well as valuable paleontological and geological material.

Nelson Mandela National Museum
Nelson Mandela Museum is located in his birthplace at Qunu, Mvezo and Mthatha in the Eastern Cape and commemorates the life of Nelson Mandela.

Northern Flagship Institution
The National Cultural History Museum is in Pretoria, also known as the African Window, was amalgamated with the Pretoria-based Transvaal Museum for Natural History and the South African National Museum for Military History (situated in Johannesburg) and other institutions on 1 April 1999 to form the Northern Flagship Institutions.

National English Literary Museum
Its principal functions are to collect and conserve material evidence pertaining to this literature, to publicise and popularise it, and to provide all sections of the reading public, both locally and abroad, with the means of access to it.

National Museum
The Mission of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, is to promote an understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of our natural and cultural environment through high quality curation, conservation, research and education.

Old Court House Museum, The Local History Museums
The Old Court House Museum is the oldest public building in the central business district, and has a rich and chequered past.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum
The permanent collection of more than 700 works of South African art includes paintings, sculpture, and works on paper.

Port Natal Maritime Museum, The Local History Museums
The Port Natal Maritime Museum deals exclusively with Durban’s seafaring tradition.

Pretoria Art Museum
An art museum specialising in South African art.

Robben Island Museum
Robben Island was designated as a world heritage site in 1999; the Museum was established in 1996

Simonstown Museum
The Simonstown Museum collects and exhibits the cultural history of the people of Simonstown.

Talana Museum
The museum comprises 17 buildings, dedicated to subjects as diverse as war and agriculture, mining, industry and domestic life.

Tatham Art Gallery
The Tatham Art Gallery, one of the major art museums in South Africa, is located in Pietermaritzburg.

Toy and Miniature Museum
The museum houses a collection of 1:12 scale miniatures, room boxes, miniature houses, antique dolls, cars, cuddly toys and others.

University Art Galleries
The University Art Galleries own and administer important collections of South African and traditional African Art.

V.O.C. Kruithuis
The V.O.C. (Vereenigde Oost-Indiesche Compagnie) Kruihuis is unique in South Africa in that it is the only surviving powder magazine in the country dating from the days of the Dutch East India Company.

Village Museum, Stellenbosch
The Stellenbosch Village Museum comprises of four houses of historical interest and their gardens.

War Museum of the Boer Republics
The War Museum in Bloemfontein does not only give the visitor insight into the Boer War through it`s unique art collection, dioramas and exhibits but also brings the visitor closer to understanding the background against which the war took place.

Wellington Museum
Wellington Museum is situated in the winelands of the western Cape.

Posted: October 28, 2009 | Permalink
Heritage sites and heritage links

Heritage sites and other heritage resources

Alexandria Coastal Dunefields
Alexandria Coastal Dunefield is the largest, most impressive and least degraded dunefield in South Africa and arguably one of the most spectacular in the world.

The Barberton Mountain Land, Barberton Greenstone Belt or Makhonjwa Mountains
The area contains the oldest well preserved sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rocks on Earth. These highly accessible exposures of Archaean rocks have characteristics that provide an unparalleled repository of scientific information about the early Earth.

The Cape Arc of Meridian
Together with the Struve Arc (a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammersfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through 10 countries and over 2,820km in the northern hemisphere), The Cape Arc of Meridian confirmed the measurements taken to determine the exact size and shape of our planet.

Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
The features that make the Cape Floral Region unique in the world are the exceptionally high plant species richness and endemism with almost 70% of the 9 500 plant species endemic to the region.

The Cape Winelands Cultural Landscape
The Cape Winelands is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape enriched by influences accumulated from four continents (Africa, Asia and the East Indies, Europe and Northern America), natural elements ideally suited for viticulture and situated in a dramatic environment where a unique vernacular architecture developed

Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs
The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension to the site inscribed in 1999, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The site at St Lucia contains critical habitats for a range of species from Africa’s marine, wetland and savannah environments.

Liberation Heritage route
African Liberation Heritage as a common heritage of shared global values (Human Rights, Freedom, Democracy).

Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site.

The Namaqualand Copper Mining Landscape
The Namaqualand Copper Mining Landscape is the site of the first sustained modern mining operation in Southern Africa

Pilgrim’s Rest Reduction Works Industrial Heritage Site
Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a gold field on 22 September 1873 and by the end of that year there were some 1500diggers working 4000 claims in and around Pilgrim’s Rest.

Pleistocene occupation sites of Klasies River, Border Cave, Wonderwerk Cave and comparable sites relating to the emergence of modern humans
The oldest remains of anatomicallymodern humans (Homo sapiens) anywhere in the world were found at the site.

Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
The 160,000 ha Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape of dramatic mountainous desert in north-western South Africa constitutes a cultural landscape communally owned and managed.

Robben Island Museum
Robben Island was designated as a world heritage site in 1999; the Museum was established in 1996

Succulent Karoo Protected Areas
The Succulent Karoo biome is an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot, and is the world’s only arid hotspot.

Tswaing Meteorite Crater
This crater, formerly known as the Pretoria Saltpan (or Zoutpan), is situated 40 km north to the west of Pretoria. It is one of the best-preserved terrestrial meteorite impact craters anywhere in the world.

uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park
This spectacular natural site also contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara, made by the San people over a period of 4,000 years.

Vredefort Dome
The development of a Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site (VDWHS).

The !Xam Khomani Heartland
The !Xam area in a unique way links the memory of a vanished people, their language and culture, spiritual connection to their environment and contribution to the meaning of Southern African rock art.

Posted: October 6, 2009 | Permalink

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