Historical Papers

The historical papers section currently consists of 362 collections of personal and organisational documents, reflecting the struggle for national liberation in South Africa.

These papers and publications, many of which were banned under apartheid, document the major political events and turning points that culminated in the unbanning of political organisations and the release of Nelson Mandela and other leaders in February 1990.

• The extensive IDAF papers collection is organized into three categories, the legal assistance records, the welfare assistance program and the research and information outreach program.(see IDAF story)
•Robben Island Ex- Political Prisoners General Sports and Recreation Committee collection also known as the Apple Box Archives This collection includes priceless items reflecting the prison experience, recorded and maintained (often secretly) by the prisoners themselves. The personal letters, internal correspondence, minutes of meetings, reports, political education discussion papers, recreation plans, orders for equipment and other miscellaneous material yield rich insights into prison life.The bulk of this material comes from the official records of the Robben Island General Recreation Committee, which existed from the late 1960s through to the final releases in 1991, when the papers were deposited in the Mayibuye Archives. Prisoners were usually released carrying their possessions in cardboard boxes, often apple boxes. This is how the prisoners’ papers came to be called the Apple Box Archives.

This collection is complemented by the personal paper collections from other Robben Island ex-political prisoners from differing backgrounds, such as Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Eddie Daniels, Wilton Mkwayi and Sandile Sijake.