Historical Papers Research Archive, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Identity area



Authorized form of name

Historical Papers Research Archive, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name


Contact area


Gabriele Mohale (Mrs.) Primary contact




Street address

1 Jan Smuts Avenue





Country name

South Africa

Postal code



+27 11 717-1940




Description area


The Historical Papers research archive, situated in the William Cullen Library, was established in 1966. Its first holdings were the Jan Hofmeyr collection and the Gubbins collection as well as manuscripts which were transferred to the Historical Papers archive from the Africana section in the William Cullen Library.

Geographical and cultural context

Historical Papers has since become one of the largest and most comprehensive independent archives in Southern Africa, based in Gauteng. We house over 3400 collections of historical, political and cultural importance, encompassing the mid 17th Century to the Present.

Mandates/Sources of authority

Our primary aim is to provide custodianship to South Africa's heritage, which we hold in trust. In doing so we strive to serve the University and civil society, and to transform archives into accessible and transparent institutions. Historical Papers tries to promote archival awareness and debate, nationally and internationally, drawing on the collections in our holdings. We also provide advice to other heritage institutions and communities on the management and preservation of their records. In this way we help to build the capacity of organisations, communities and individuals, through the sharing of knowledge on technical issues such as digitalization and basic techniques for organising and preserving materials.

Administrative structure

Records management and collecting policies



Our archive holds the records of individuals and collectives, with a wide and diverse scope spanning, from early colonial history, to all aspects of governance, religion and genealogy, health, the arts, culture and traditions, anti-Apartheid resistance, and the post-1994 South Africa, to attempt naming a few. The collections include the personal papers of individuals, many of which have shaped South Africa's past and present, and of collectives, such as human rights NGOs, trade unions, political parties, women's organizations, large volume of political trials, the Anglican Church and other religious bodies, cultural institutions, the papers of human rights activists, artists, photographers and other cultural workers, as well as civil society movements and organizations. The collections housed at Historical Papers consist of diaries, letters, memoranda, reports, minute-books, press clippings, pamphlets, photographs, drawings, maps, oral interviews, trial transcripts, and financial, legal, and personal documents. They are contained in various formats such as paper-based records, microfiche, microfilm, photographs, slides, negative and positive film, tapes, DVD and CDs, audiovisual formats, and digital formats.

Finding aids, guides and publications

Access area

Opening times

We are open Monday-Friday, 8.00-17.00 (in line with the opening hours of the William Cullen Library)

Access conditions and requirements


Services area

Research services

Reproduction services

Public areas

Control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

Access points

Access Points

  • Clipboard

Primary contact

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Johannesburg, Gauteng
ZA 2050