Apartheid South Africa 1948-1980: Guest Post by Tim Berge

An image of the front page of a classified, top secret document

In 1948 National Party Leader Daniel Francois Malan campaigned for the position of Prime Minister of South Africa running on a platform promising apartheid.  He was elected and through his legislature the long tenure of apartheid in South Africa began.  While many of the policies put into place during apartheid were unpopular abroad, Britain was hesitant to vocally asperse the South African government due to both historical and economic ties between the countries.  Apartheid South Africa 1948-1980, a recently acquired archive from Adam Matthew Digital, provides access to a number of British government files from the Foreign, Colonial, Dominion and Commonwealth Offices allowing the relationship between Britain and South Africa during this time to be more closely examined.

The resources are divided into three separate time periods (two currently available and the third coming in March): 1948-1960, 1960-1977 and 1977-1980.  Each period varies in focus and content, but contains items such as diplomatic dispatches; biographies of political figures, activists and detainees; press reports from Afrikaans newspapers; detailed reports of US and UK politicians visiting South Africa; letters and telegrams from both private individuals and government officials; maps depicting regional and tribal authority areas, mining locations, and Bantustans; and much more.  This is a useful resource in understanding the policies of apartheid as well as foreign relations.