Jagger Library fire and manuscripts

Jagger Library fire and manuscripts

The massive fire that occurred on and around Table Mountain last weekend has destroyed part of the University, at least three of its buildings, one of which is – was – the Jagger Library. A core part of the University library, among other things this held African Studies material and Special Collections. Although this won’t be known for certain for a few days until it is safe for archivists to access the site, it is likely that all its manuscript collections are destroyed. This means that major collections of the Cape (including thousands of Olive Schreiner letters, the Schreiner-Hemming collection and many more that have been worked on as part of the WWW research and the Olive Schreiner letters project before it) no longer exist. There are no words to convey the sense of shock and loss.

This is a major loss to South Africa and its historiography, for it impacts on what can be known and what cannot be remembered anymore. Once it is known whether anything of this manuscript collections has survived, a process of thinking through the rest of the WWW project will take place.

Last updated:  22 April 2021


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