History of the Archives | Western Cape Government

History of the Archives

1876:   The Cape Government appoints a commission to collect, examine, classify and index the archives of the Colony.

1879:   Dr George McCall Theal, a clerk in the stationery section of the Treasury Department, is charged with the part-time supervision of the archives depot.

1881:   Theal is replaced by Rev HCV Leibbrandt, who was appointed as Librarian of the House of Assembly and Registrar (keeper) of the Colonial Archives, which functioned under the Ministerial Division of the Colonial Secretary. The first records of the refreshing station were preserved in the Fort and later in the Castle. Early in the 19th century the British moved the records to the Slave Lodge in Adderley Street, which served as government offices.

1886:   The new parliamentary building is completed. The archives move to the basement of the new building.

1908:   Leibbrandt retires. The Colonial government appoints a commission "to have the custody on behalf of the Colonial Government of the Archives". Two officials are appointed to arrange the archives after office hours.

1910:   The Archives Service is geographically decentralised, with archives repositories in each provincial capital under central administrative control of a head office.

1910 to 1948: The Archives Service functions under the Department of the Interior.

1912:  Mr CG Botha is transferred to the Cape Archives as chief.

1913:   The commission holds its last meeting in February.

1919:   Dr Colin Graham Botha is appointed Chief Archivist for the Union of South Africa.

1922:   The first Archives Act is promulgated.

1934:   The archives move from the Parliamentary building to Queen Victoria Street (previously the University of the Cape of Good Hope).

1944:   The office of the Chief Archivist moves from Cape Town to Pretoria.

1948 to 1967: The Archives functions under the Department of Education, Art and Science.

1953:   New legislation is promulgated in 1953 and again in 1962, and is amended on various occasions.

1967:   The service is transferred to the Department of Cultural Affairs.

1970:   The Archives is transferred to the Department of National Education.

1990:   The Cape Town Archives Repository moves to a new building constructed on the site of the old Roeland Street prison.

1994:   The Archives Service is positioned under the newly established Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, which becomes the Department of Arts and Culture in 2002.

1996:   The promulgation of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act 43 of 1996, as amended) provides the basis for the transformation of the public archives system and its alignment with the imperatives of the democratic South Africa. This structure is reorganised in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Schedule 5), which stipulates that archives other than national archives fall under provincial control.

2006:   In April 2006, the Western Cape Archives and Records Service is transferred from national control to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and functions according to the Provincial Archives and Records Service of the Western Cape Act (Act 3 of 2005).

2015:   The digitisation process is commenced to provide electronic preservation and access to archival material.

2015:   The Oral History Framework is launched and provides minimum standards and guidelines to conduct oral history.  This transversal framework, that regulates legalities that are associated with the oral history recording, will establish a provincial database of oral histories that will be housed in the Provincial Archives in Roeland Street, Cape Town.

2017:   The SA Society of Archivists (SASA) Conference was hosted in the Western Cape.

2018:   The 2018 National Oral History Conference is organised by the Oral History Association of South Africa (OHASA), in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture (National Archives of South Africa) and the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) and will be hosted from 9 to 12 October 2018 in the Western Cape.

2019: The Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport announced the new Archives Advisory Committee Members.

Currently: Oral History roll out activities across the province.

The content on this page was last updated on 25 March 2024