Minister Anroux Marais 2022 National Archives Awareness Week speech | Western Cape Government


Minister Anroux Marais 2022 National Archives Awareness Week speech

6 June 2022

National Annual Archives Awareness Week launch

Monday 06 June 2022,

Western Cape Archives and Records Service

Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning, molweni, goeie more.

We are here today to launch National Annual Archives Awareness Week, scheduled to start from the 6th until 10th of June nationally, under the main theme: “100 YEARS OF ARCHIVAL LEGISLATION IN SOUTH AFRICA: ROLE /STRIDES MADE BY OUR MEMORY INSTITUTIONS IN PRESERVING DOCUMENTARY HERITAGE”

This year the Western Cape Archives and Records Services is hosting the National Archives Awareness Week with the intention of bringing this annual celebration province-wide with the following goals:

to raise awareness of the 100 years Archival legislation governing the functioning of the archives and records management in the Governmental institutions and Archives.

to raise awareness of the important role that the Archives play in preserving records and archives. Through making these records available and accessible to the public, we ensure that people’s identities and rights are promoted and celebrated.

to educate the youth about the importance of records and archives for research purposes and as well as for career choices.

to expose more members of the public to the nature of Archives and Records Services so that they can understand and appreciate documented history and the importance of proper management and care of records.

  To promote and bring to the attention of the public, the unique, extraordinary and rare documents preserved in archival institutions.

National Annual Archives Awareness Week is a reflection of the continued robust growth in the use of the services that the Western Cape Archives is able to offer as a specialised heritage-sector institution contributing towards the larger heritage economy of the Western Cape.

The Western Cape Archives preserves an extensive historical-VOC and colonial-era archive which continues to attract scholars and researchers from across the world. Many of the most researched themes such as slavery, history of the Cape’s towns and farms, trade, as well as the history of the Cape continues to have a strong presence amongst researchers, with the histories of Tesselaarsdal; Langa; Bokmakirie; Hout Bay; Somerset Road; and 18th century Swellendam featuring amongst researcher’s interests in all these years. Most research of these records is done in the Reading Room, by researchers locally and internationally also researching their family history (genealogy) estate papers, divorce papers, land matters, chieftaincy etc.  With the newly promulgated Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, 2019, there has been increased number of researchers searching for information.

The Western Cape Archives and Records Service (WCARS) hosts many academics and researchers using its documents for a variety of purposes that range from researching academic dissertations from undergraduate to post-doctoral levels, to land claim research projects and research for publication purposes.

Other aspects of the Archives’ functioning operate largely unseen and often unacknowledged from the outside.  All form a vital part of enabling the public and researchers to access the records.

Archival documents require organising and ordering – (the arrangement and description of records); in finding aids and indexes in order to facilitate researcher’s ability to access these records.  This function underpins the ability of the Western Cape Archives to provide a service to the public; for without these, any archives would simply be a mass of undifferentiated paper on shelves – completely inaccessible to all. 

Many of the documents at the Archives are in need on ongoing conservation care and repair due to their age and their use over the centuries; specialist trained conservators using specialist repair materials and techniques work towards maintaining the ability of researchers to continue to access records in the Reading Room.

However, the care of important records by the Western Cape Archives can be said to begin even before records arrive at the Archives. The Records Management Section works to promote sound records management principles that enable the control of state/government records from the moment of their creation to their ultimate archiving for use by future generations.

In order to ensure compliance to the Provincial Archives of the Western Cape Act, (Act no. 3 of 2005) a long-term preservation of archival heritage is highly considered in the Western Cape Archives and Records Service where, due to access and daily handling of the records in the reading room by researchers are at risk of being damaged and torn. The idea behind long term preservation was to digitise archival records in order to make them accessible online on the website for use by the public with the intentions of preserving the original record for future.        

This week is an open opportunity for every member of the public, more especially the youth to explore the history of South Africa as well as gain knowledge on researching family history.

The daily programme includes presentations, workshops, exhibitions and tours of the Western Cape Archives and Records Service. The highlight of the week is the Family History Workshop that will take place on 9 June 2022, which is a celebration of the day for the International Archives Day world-wide.  The theme for the International Archives Day is: #Archives Are You and as Western Cape Government, we say these are archives For You.

Ladies, gentlemen and honoured guests, I would like to thank you for taking the time to attend this launch.  I trust that all here today, will make use of the opportunity in the coming week to visit the archives and see for yourself some of the outstanding work done by this profession.

Thank you, Dankie, Enkosi

Media Enquiries: 

Tania Colyn
Acting Spokesperson for Minister Anroux Marais
Tel: 076 093 4913