National Heritage Month | Western Cape Government

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National Heritage Month

historical documentsWe all share a common South African heritage from birth. During September we celebrate Heritage Month, which includes our individual cultures as well as our shared heritage.

Heritage Day is celebrated on 24 September. The day allows us the opportunity to reflect on and preserve our heritage for future generations. Have you ever wondered about your own heritage or that of your great grandparents? Heritage Month is the perfect time to explore your family’s own history.

Exploring your family history can be exciting and very rewarding. Have a look at our own iconic statesman, Nelson Mandela's genealogy for inspiration. 

Your heritage is what makes you unique. Every day we live with traditions that were passed on from the previous generation, and will hopefully continue to be passed on to future generations.

Tracing your family history (genealogy) isn’t only an exciting opportunity to learn more about the past, it can also help you access estate papers that are issued after death. These papers include wills and death notices. If you’re curious about your family’s past, you can:

  • find out about your family’s origins - slave descendants can also use the slavery era records to learn more,
  • gain useful information about your family’s medical history and causes of death, this can help you determine your risk of getting a disease,
  • use these records for research and academic purposes, and
  • determine the truth about land claims by using estate papers and wills.

Cape Town Archives
Our Archives Service allows you to view historical documents. Whether you need to know more about your family history or access documents for research, our archives are the place to go.

Situated in Roeland Street in Cape Town, they store some of the oldest documents in our country that date back to 1651.
Records are available and classified as:

  • written manuscripts
  • maps and plans
  • photographic images

Visit the archives

If you’re interested in using this service you can visit the archives at:

72 Roeland Street
Cape Town
South Africa

Office hours:

Mondays to Fridays: 8am to 4pm
Thursdays: 8am to 7pm (reading room)
First Saturday of each month: 9am to 1pm (reading room)

Archive search documentsWhat you need to know before visiting

  • Visits are free. All you need to do is sign a register before you go to the reading room where you can view the archives.
  • You can arrange group visits and school tours for free.
  • It is helpful for you to take as much information as possible on your family with you if you are researching your family tree.

Who can help me research my family history?

Never researched your family tree before? Read up on some useful information for beginners, or visit the institutions below. 

•    Genealogical Institute of South Africa (GISA)
Tel: +27 (0)21 887 5070
Fax +27 (0)86 723 7745
Postal address: PO Box 3033, Matieland, 7602
•    Genealogical Society of South Africa
This society supports amateur family researchers.
•    National Archives of South Africa
Genealogical research forms a substantial part of the research conducted in archives. Each of the repositories which house archival groups that contain genealogical information has prepared guides to genealogical research which enable you to find the information you require.
•    South African Genealogy
This website provides information on how to research your genealogy and family history in South Africa.


The content on this page was last updated on 12 September 2019