The Constitution Archives Project

Since moving to Constitution Hill in late 2012, SAHA has taken over the responsibility of archiving and making accessible the records of the Constitution Hill Trust.

This body of records comprise a wealth of materials that speak not only to the history of the site, but also the process by which heritage sites are conceptualised and developed, and the vision and development of the constitutional court within the site. It is a combination of historical archive (donated materials related to the history of the site, going back over a century) and institutional archive (materials generated by Constitution Hill Trust relating to activities of the site, and of the court). Materials have been donated by ex-prisoners and their families (such as drawings done by Fatima Meer while imprisoned), as well as ex-wardens and staff (such as handcuffs, batons, uniforms, etc.).

Ex-prisoners of the Number Four prison, and members of the PAC during the 1960's, at the PAC Ex-Political Prisoners Workshop held at The Old Fort, Johannesburg, 23 August 2003. The workshop was facilitated by Heritage, Education and Tourism team members Lauren Segal and Joy Pelo during the planning and implementation of Constitution Hill heritage programmes and exhibitions. Constitution Hill Trust Collection. Photograph by Oscar Gutierres.

There are also substantial records of the research undertaken on the history of the site when it was being redeveloped as a heritage site, including recordings, transcripts and drawings from oral history projects and workshops that have been conducted on site with ex-prisoners, as well as materials relating to the development of the Constitutional Court, including the architectural competition conducted for the design of the court.

Once the processing of these materials has been completed in mid-2013, SAHA will be building on this collection through oral history and archival audit processes in order to highlight and create access to a body of archival materials, both held at SAHA and in other institutions, relating to the constitution-making process and South Africa's changing relationship to the Constitution in the making of democracy in South Africa