UCT Libraries Special Collections Division consists of three collections - the African Studies collection, the Rare Books collection, and the Manuscripts and Archives collection. The Manuscripts and Archives collection has an extensive collection of original research material relating to the political, social, cultural and economic history of the Western Cape, as well as regions further afield.
Collection development policy
The Manuscripts & Archives Department collects original research material relating to the political, social, cultural and economic history of Southern Africa, with a strong focus on the Western Cape. The collections support research by a wide range of scholars including academics, postgraduates, undergraduates, and other researchers whose work relies on primary resource materials and manuscripts.
This Department has the primary responsibility, on behalf of the University, for preserving original archival collections, in all media, including traditional paper-based collections, digital records and film, photographic and sound archives. Hence it is the permanent archival home for the University’s special collections.
Although the chief responsibility is to the University of Cape Town, the Manuscripts & Archives Department also serves scholars at national and international levels. Consequently, it draws visiting scholars to the University of Cape Town and enhances the University’s reputation as a centre for scholarship.
By acting as a responsible custodian of Southern African archival collections, the Manuscripts & Archives Department plays an important role in the preservation of our national heritage.
The Manuscripts & Archives Department’s primary responsibility is to serve the research needs of faculty and students at the University of Cape Town. To this end, it seeks to collect in subject areas which reflect the major research thrusts of this University, which represent ongoing research interests, or which are the focus of interdisciplinary programs.
Collections are acquired on the basis of their value for current and potential future research at this University. Acquisitions that do not fall into existing collecting areas are sometimes made in anticipation of new emphases.
Primary collecting areas
Subjects covered include, but are not limited to, South African written and oral history, politics, social history, economic history, art, music, dance, film, photography, education, literature and language, botany, architecture and scientific and medical history.
Examples of current collection areas include:
The Manuscripts & Archives Department does not accept collections that are closed to public access in perpetuity.