The first part of the collection of CPSA records deals with the foundation and progress of the various dioceses and activities of the church, and mainly covers the years 1848-1938.
It has been described in 'Selected Records of the Archbishops of Cape Town', No 6, in the library's series of Historical and Literary Papers: Inventories of Collections.
The second part, 'Selected Records of the Archbishops of Cape Town, Part II' describes records transferred to the Library from Bishopscourt, the home of the Archbishops of Cape Town, by Mrs Kotze, the Provincial Archivist. The records in Part II relate mainly to the years 1940-1982, and are described in No 16 of the Historical and Literary Papers: Inventories of Collections.
This present inventory consists mainly of additional records transferred from Bishopscourt between the years 1983 and 1996, and covering the episcopacies of Archbishops Russell and Tutu. (There are also some records from Church House, the Diocesan headquarters in Cape Town which cover an earlier period, - from 1855 - but for the sake of convenience these have been combined with the Bishopscourt records.) The files are arranged alphabetically by subject according to the Bishopscourt filing system. As in Part II, a condensed description of each subject file is given in the inventory together with an index of personal names, churches, parishes and selected subject fields, and a list of the names of bishops in each diocese, from the origin of the diocese to date, has been provided together with a map showing the dioceses of the CPSA in existence in 1998.
The records relate to the Church of the Province as a whole, but there is a preponderance of Cape records due to the Archbishop's dual role as head of the Cape Town Diocese and metropolitan for the province. They include the Archbishops' correspondence with bishops of the various dioceses and with clergy and lay people, and they reflect the administration of the CPSA and its work, as well as the Church's attitude to social and political problems in South Africa such as abortion, homosexuality and the church, conscientious objection, race, sanctions, violence and political negotiations.
A number of these files do not relate specifically to the CPSA but reveal the various interests of the Archbishops. Archbishop Tutu's files include correspondence from numbers of organisations within and outside South Africa that were dedicated to removing apartheid and restoring a just society. Examples are the Bishop Desmond Tutu Refugee Scholarship Fund, the Educational Opportunities Council, West European Parliamentarians for Action against Apartheid, etc. This collection therefore gives an indication of Bishop Tutu's influence, both in the Church and as a participant in many human rights and welfare organisations.