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Unpublished collections at UCT Libraries Special Collections: Some political collections

A brief introduction to some of the major collections of original manuscript material that are housed in the manuscripts and archives section of Special Collections.


The Communist Party of South Africa was declared illegal in 1950. The party went underground and in 1953 relaunched itself as the South African Communist Party. The party was unbanned in 1990. For information concerning the CPSA, see the Simons Papers (BC1081).



The Black Sash was a non-violent white women's resistance organization founded in 1955 in South Africa by Jean Sinclair. Its members worked as volunteer advocates protesting apartheid laws; they brought cases of injustice to the attention of their Members of Parliament, and kept vigils outside Parliament and government offices. Read more in BC 668 The Black Sash Collection.


“We learn from history that we don't learn from history!” ― Desmond Tutu

We have collections that cover political activities in South africa from the nineteenth century through to the recent past. In the boxes below, some of our flagship political collections are highlighted.


The Simons Papers - BC1081

Papers of Prof. Jack Simons and his wife, Ray Alexander, reflecting the immense contribution made by the Simons' to the political, trade union and intellectual life of South Africa. A very important source for the history of the South African liberation movement, as well as the history of the trade union movement, the African National Congress and the SA Communist Party. Access the on-line finding aid here.