30 September 2015

Collection of the month: The Julie Frederikse collection (AL2460)

The South African History Archive (SAHA) recently launched an online edition of journalist and author Julie Frederikse’s The Unbreakable Thread: Non-racialism in South Africa to mark the 25th anniversary of the book originally published by Ravan Press in 1990. Whilst researching and writing her book, Frederikse was based at the Popular History Trust (PHT) in Harare, Zimbabwe. PHT developed from several collections of publications produced by South African political organisations and activists between 1979 and 1986. During a time of increased state censorship and harassment in South Africa, Harare was seen as a safe location to store and make such materials accessible to users both inside and outside South Africa.

'The archives come home' in It was during her time at PHT that Frederikse conducted over 100 interviews with liberation struggle veterans in the late 1980s and it was at PHT where most of the audio interviews for the book were transcribed.  When PHT closed its doors in 1990, the majority of its resources were merged with SAHA, including the audio-recordings and transcripts which are all accessible in the Julie Frederikse collection.

Rich in oral history resources, the collection consists of audiotapes and transcripts of the interviews Frederikse conducted with struggle stalwarts such as Billy Nair, Dorothy Nyembe , Esther Barsel and Joe Slovo, as well as a new generation of leaders like Cheryl Carolus, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa amongst many others. While the audiotapes were digitised some time back, the interviews transcripts, due to their fragile condition, were recently digitised as part of SAHA’s non-racialism project.

This year, Julie Frederikse added to her collection a wealth of material relating to her earlier books, None But Ourselves: Masses vs Julie Frederikse's C.H.G.M. press card. Archives as SAHA collection AL2460_U05.03Media (1982), South Africa: A Different Kind of War (1986) as well as to The Unbreakable Thread. While the bulk of the material consists of research materials for her books, especially The Unbreakable Thread, it also includes a wonderful collection of ephemera such as her press passes, badges and stickers. She also made a large collection of correspondence, book reviews, photographs and other documents available to SAHA to be digitised for inclusion in the virtual exhibition ‘Tracing the Unbreakable Thread: Non-racialism in South Africa'. The digitised items are being processed as part of the Julie Frederikse collection.


See inventory for the Julie Frederikse collection (AL2460)

Visit the SAHA online exhibition 'Tracing the Unbreakable Thread: Non-Racialism in South Africa'

Visit 'The Unbreakable Thread' Publications page

Visit SAHA's Non-Racialism Project page