National Library of South Africa, Cape Town

National Library of South Africa, Cape Town

5 Queen Victoria St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 424 6320
Hours: Monday to Friday 8am–6pm
Special Collections +27 (0)21 4875620/19
Digital photography is NOT permitted.

Special Collections

    • Newspaper and periodicals collection
    • Manuscript collections
    • Picture collection
    • Atlas and map collection
    • Cape Times and Argus Clippings
    • Grey Collection
    • Dessinian Collection
    • Fairbridge Collection
    • Hofmeyr Collection
    • Wessels Collection
    • John Armstrong Collection of Vocal Music
    • Churchill Collection
    • Cookery collection
    • Muir Mathematical Collection
    • Pama Collection of Heraldry and Genealogy
    • Marischal Murray Collection on Ships and Shipping
    • Nourse Collection
    • Schapera Etiquette Collection
    • Springbok Memorial Collection
    • Travers Jackson Alpine Collection
    • Alain White Chess Problems Collection
    • BSA Collection
    • Africa Collection

Manuscript collections (click here)

In addition to manuscript items in the Grey and Dessinian Collections, the Cape Town NLSA has nearly 1000 manuscript collections, ranging from single items such as letters from Gilbert White (1780) and Charles Boycott (1880) to the 106 boxes of correspondence of John X. Merriman, the 69 boxes of C.P. Hoogenhout’s papers, the 56 000 items in the Crail Collection on George, Knysna and Mossel Bay, and Olive Schreiner manuscripts including letters and literary writings.

The manuscripts cover a variety of subjects and include personal papers (e.g. those of “Onze Jan” Hofmeyr, Sir James Rose Innes, W.P. Schreiner, Lady Anne Barnard and the Rex and Findlay families, some literary manuscripts of writers such as Olive Schreiner, Stephen Black, Uys Krige and “Boerneef” (I.W. van der Merwe), and artists like Irma Stern, and the records of societies, institutions and religious bodies (e.g. the South African National Society, the Seven Arts Club, the Cape Field Artillery, and the Methodist Church, Cape Town). Also of interest are the extensive research notes of modern scholars, and writers such as V.S. Forbes, W.J. de Kock, H.C. Hopkins and Eric Rosenthal.

Apart from the newspapers and periodicals received on legal deposit at both campuses of the National Library, the Cape Town campus additionally holds a collection of bound newspapers, based on the comprehensive collection of the Cape Colonial Office which it received in 1910. It includes the first South African newspaper, The Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser (1800), which subsequently became the Government Gazette of the Cape, as well as the first privately published paper, the famous South African Commercial Advertiser (1824). There is also a large and varied periodicals collection, including such important titles as the Cape Monthly Magazine (1857-62: 1870-81), and The Owl (Penstone’s Weekly) (1896-1907).

The website is a general one for the two National Libraries and does not provide any detailed information about the manuscript and related holdings in Cape Town, instead directing users to the seriously inaccurate National Archives database. Consequently, a combination of references in published work, email or telephone contact and personal visit will be required to establish the relevance of its collections to any particular project.

Last updated: 1 January 2018