Skip to main content

South African Apartheid Collection

Call Number: MS 1500
Scope and Contents

The South African Apartheid Collection in Sterling Memorial Library. While the collection spans the years from 1961 to 1991, much of the material dates from 1985 to 1988. The collection consists of printed material such as clippings, publications, reports, press releases, newsletters, pamphlets and newspapers. In addition, it includes an interesting and colorful collection of posters which illustrate the atrocities perpetrated by the South African government and he resulting resistance.

The collection is arranged in nine series and fourteen additions, with folders in each series arranged alphabetically and documents within folders arranged chronologically. The series include:

I. South African Government

II. South African Parliamentary Parties

III. Non-Parliamentary/Opposition/Resistance Groups

IV. South African Institutes and Foundations

V. American Government Policy towards South Africa

VI. Disinvestment/Divestment

VII. American Anti-Apartheid Pressure Groups

VIII. International Pressure Groups

IX. Posters and Printed Materials

While the bulk of the material focuses on the opposition to apartheid and the resistance movements, there is very little material which documents government perspectives and arguments. Material on CODESA has not been included in this collection. Also, while the majority of the material on this subject is in this collection, additional material on apartheid is available in the African Collection, Manuscript Group Number 605.

Series I, SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT, is composed of pamphlets, publications and press releases. A major component of this series is the files released by the Embassy/Consulate, which contained, for the most part, "propaganda" material indicative of government perspectives of the South African problem. Through the newsletters, the embassy promoted government "achievements" by focusing on changes being made in the country, on the improvement of he economy, South Africa's crucial role in the affairs of the region, the "true" face of the African National Congress, the increase in the number of tourists to South Africa and the negotiation process. Also included are brochures published by the Bureau for Information in an attempt to promote the idea of a racially harmonious South Africa as opposed to a violence-plagued country. Materials documenting the emergence of the homeland system, as part of the apartheid master plan to remove Blacks into the rural parts of South africa, have been included in this series.

Series II, SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES, contains publications and pamphlets of the country's recognized parliamentary parties. The bulk of the material, which is devoted to the electioneering process in South African politics, provides a lucid explanation of the principles and policies of each of the parties. This series is also helpful in documenting the changing policies of the ruling National Party and the support or opposition it encountered from the other parties in Parliament.

Series III, NON PARLIAMENTARY/OPPOSITION/PRESSURE GROUPS, is the largest single series of the collection. It consists of documents, newsletters, press releases, pamphlets, reports, and publications which chronicle the work of the different organizations within South Africa to fight against or for apartheid. These include white right-wing groups, student organizations, religious organizations, labor organizations, community organizations and previously banned/exiled movements. This series provides an invaluable source which clearly chronicles the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, especially the years 1985-1988, when the anti-apartheid activities gained rapid momentum. The diverse range of organizations involved indicates that the liberation struggle cut across a wide spectrum of South African society. The documents of white right-wing groups who demanded the protection of a white united South Africa provide a sharp contrast with the material of left-wing groups who called for a free and democratic South Africa. In comparison to the other non-parliamentary groups, the history and struggle of the African National Congress is very well documented in this series.

Series IV, SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTES AND FOUNDATIONS, includes reports and publications of a host of research institutions and foundations that function in the country. This series provides information on their work and changing views on the South African situation. Many of these institutes, for example the South African Institute of Race Relations, furthered the cause of liberation organizations.

Series V, AMERICAN GOVERNMENT POLICY TOWARDS SOUTH AFRICA, the smallest series of the collection, documents American policy and action towards South Africa, and U. S. strategies of coercing the government to abandon apartheid. It consists of newsletters, pamphlets, official statements, and special reports.

Series VI, DISINVESTMENT/DIVESTMENT, includes newsletters and reports of American organizations and institutions which have not only publicly opposed apartheid, but have also developed schemes to improve the welfare of black South Africans. One of the most effective strategies was to withdraw investments from South Africa. Hence, this series is a source for the divestment/disinvestment issue and its effectiveness as a strategy for change in the country. Many universities, especially Yale and Stanford, were at the forefront of this campaign. Additional material on this strategy can be found in Series IX.

Series VII, AMERICAN ANTI-APARTHEID ORGANIZATIONS, is a fairly large series which focuses on the role of numerous American groups in removing racial oppression in South Africa. Through their newsletters, publications and campaigns, these organizations aimed not only to bring to the attention of the American people the plight of the oppressed, but also to design strategies to build the momentum for legislative action against South Africa. Of particular importance are the files of the Africa Fund, American Committee on Africa, Episcopal Church People for a Free Southern Africa, and the Washington Office on Africa. Through their work these groups were successful in providing medical, financial, and moral assistance to black South Africans and in ultimately influencing American corporate and government policy towards South Africa. Their publications, reports, and newsletters are a good source for information on the violence that was perpetrated in South Africa, especially in Natal.

Series VIII, INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE GROUPS, contains material which focuses on the pressure exerted by non-American groups and their respective government on South Africa to bring an end to apartheid. Although most of these groups are based in Europe, the work of the British anti-apartheid organizations dominates these series.

Series IX, POSTERS AND PRINTED MATERIAL, consists of oversized items, primarily posters and other printed material.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred to Manuscripts and Archives by the African Curator, Sterling Memorial Library.


Arranged in nine series and fifteen additions: I. South African Government, 1961-1991. II. South African Parliamentary Parties, 1961-1991. III. Non-Parliamentary/Opposition/ Resistance Groups, 1961-1991. IV. South African Institutes and Foundations, 1966-1991. V. American Government Policy Towards South Africa, 1974-1988. VI. Disinvestment/ Divestment, 1978-1987. VII. American Anti-Apartheid Pressure Groups, 1972-1991. VIII. International Pressure Groups, 1963-1991. IX. Posters and Printed Materials, 1970-1990.

Majority of material found within 1985 - 1988
31.75 Linear Feet (83 boxes)
Language of Materials