26 March 2010

Nelson Mandela Foundation launches Rivonia Trial Database

SAHA is proud to have five of its collections included in the newly launched Rivonia Trial Database, hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF). The project falls under the NMF Memory Programme, led by Verne Harris. According to Harris, "the database, and the records audit on which it is built, constitute a first step towards generating a comprehensive archive of the Rivonia Trial."

The famous trial took place between 26 November 1963 and 12 June 1964. It was named after a suburb in Johannesburg, where senior members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, had been hiding since 1961 during their planning and execution of Operation Mayibuye. Mandela and seven other accused were sentenced to life imprisonment. This generated an international outcry, and had the effect of mobilising global support for the anti-apartheid movement. The significance of the political trial is underscored by the vast archive of material that it generated, from court records, media coverage, poster art and photographs. The database thus brings together the scattered and wide-ranging material of over 60 institutions and 160 archival collections. It is not complete, with some court records having been lost and stolen while in the custody of the apartheid government.

Demonstration in support for those involved in the Rivonia Trial, outside the court room where the trial place (AL2547_21.1.11)

Outside the court room where the Rivonia Trial took place, protesters face police. (SAHA Original Photograph Collection :: AL2547_21.1.11)

The following SAHA collections are included in the Rivonia Trial Database:

AL3051 :: The Hilda and Rusty Bernstein Collection

AL2460 :: The Julie Frederikse Collection

AL2431 :: The United Democratic Front (UDF) Collection

AL2547 :: The SAHA Original Photograph Collection

AL2446 :: The SAHA Poster Collection


The Rivonia Trial Database remains a work in progress. Comments, queries and suggestions are welcomed by the NMF.

Visit the Rivonia Trial Database.

Contact the Nelson Mandela Foundation.


One of SAHA's posters related to the Rivonia Trial (SAHA Poster Collection :: AL2446_0181)