Today is the 9th international archives day with the theme “Archives, Harmony and Friendship."
It was decided by the International Council of Archives (ICA) that 9th of June would be used as it was on this day in 1948 that the ICA was created under UNESCO.
The public perception of what an archive is and what happens in an archive often gets muddied. The archive gets perceived as a place with documents for internal use and which are only of interest to historians. This perception is wrong and the South African History Archive (SAHA) is a prime example of why.
An archive is defined by its collections - SAHA as an archive is committed to activism and justice. The archival collections are made up of documents, posters, photographs, ephemera and oral histories that speak to the various struggles for justice that have shaped South Africa over the past century..
Some of our notable rare collections are:
The SALA Poster Collection (AL2446)
SAHA has an extensive poster collection (AL2446) and has accumulated tens of thousands of posters dating mostly from the 1980s - 1990s. We hold one of the largest collections of South African struggle posters in the world.
Ephemera Collection (AL2540)
SAHA is quite unique as it has a large number of T-shirts and banners which were used in protest. Our T-shirt collection is amongst the largest and is important to the understanding of the struggle experience.Youth are taught by using these t-shirts at workshops.
Freedom of Information Programme Collection (AL2878)
A large contributor to our paper-based collection is records released as a result of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The collection includes apartheid era and post-apartheid records of mostly public and some private bodies.
The archive has a diverse variety of mediums. Part of this is what makes up our audiovisual collection. This includes tapes, videos and recordings.
A challenge our archive faces is the wide variety of materials that we house which are all linked to the Struggle for Justice and revealing histories. An important part of the Archives’ role is not merely storing these collections but making this information accessible to the people of South Africa. SAHA, as part of this goal, has publications available freely for download. SAHA also creates exhibitions and hosts educational workshops to promote the understanding and appreciation for the role of the archive.
This is a small taste of the world of SAHA. We hope this has raised awareness of the importance of our archive. We wish all other archives out there a Happy International Archives Day!
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