World Book and Copyright Day



“Our books and our pens are the most powerful weapons” (Malala Yousafzai)

Books are the pillars of free and open societies – everyone must have access to books!

The history of the written word is the history of humanity.

The power of books to advance individual fulfilment and to create social change is unequalled. Intimate and yet deeply social, books provide far-reaching forms of dialogue between individuals, within communities and across time (

The primary reason we digitize is to enhance access to books and improve the preservation of those books. Information becomes available that was previously restricted.


To celebrate World Book and Copyright day, we have included a link to our Special Collection Books with a selection of sub-categories.

Celebrate World Book and Copyright day!


Defend yourself with wrestling

Wrestling is a combat sport involving grappling type techniques such as clinches fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position. There are a wide range of styles with varying rules with both traditional historic and modern styles. Wrestling techniques have been incorporated into other martial arts as well as military hand-to-hand combat systems (Wikipedia).


Seven months after losing its Olympic place, wrestling was reinstated for the 2020 Games on Sunday when the IOC overturned a decision many members thought was a mistake. The sport, which has ancient roots in the Olympics, easily defeated bids from baseball-softball and squash. It will now join the program of the 2020 Games, which were awarded to Tokyo on Saturday (ESPN Olympic Sports).

This article below was published in “Die Huisgenoot” magazine on 16 May 1930. It depicts various pictures on how to wrestle. It is also seen as a means to defend yourself.




We are back!

As this year is already in full swing, we cannot believe how the time has gone by! And with yesterday being the 1st of April, we thought it best to leave our first blog post for 2014 to not surprise our readers by thinking it is only an April fool’s joke!  We really are back, and we hope you will keep an eye out for all our wonderful material that we want to share with you!

The new Miss South Africa, Rolene Strauss was crowned on Sunday, and the digitisation office found it best to share a few articles on “fashion”. Fashion as it was seen in the old days, and as it is seen now has really changed tremendously, but we also do see certain styles making a come-back.

These articles posted below are from the Huisgenoot Magazine that was published in 1923.

Enjoy!Mode: HoedeMode: HoedeMode: 'n Praatjie oor skoeneMode: 'n Praatjie oor skoeneMode: Hare en hoe om dit op te pasMode: Hare en hoe om dit op te pasMode: Somerklere

“Serial murder: psychological Themes” -JJ Du Plessis

This thesis aims to identify and explain certain themes in the psychology of a serial murderer. Understanding the psyche is of main importance. To summarise research shows that these people display a dependant personality structure with underlying anxiety, these people come across as reasonably normal without indications of severe pathology, these people have incapacity to form meaningful relationships and there is a possibility that these people grew up in a psychologically deprived environment.

To read more about this thesis, follow this link:

The British policy in respect of and administration of the Blacks in Transvaal, 1877 – 1881; Stals, W.A.

When he annexed the South African Republic in April 1877 Sir Theophilus Shepstone gave the assurance that existing legislation would remain in force until it could be amended by a competent legislative authority. This meant that, until such a legislative authority was provided the new Transvaal administration was compelled to continue governing the Blacks according to the laws which had existed before 1877.

To provide for the administration of Blacks H.C. Shepstone was appointed in July 1877 as Secretary for Native Affairs at the head of a department of Native Affairs. Although this appointment creates the impression that the British were responsible for instituting a department of Native Affairs, this was not the case, since provision had already been made in March 1877 for such a separate department with a Secretary for Native Affairs in charge. Because of the vastness of the Transvaal territory it was decided to appoint a number of special commissioners as the highest officials in charge of certain districts and to exercise authority over the Native Commissioners or Administrators of Native Law in these districts.

In May 1877 the Blacks were informed that a hut tax of 10/- per year would be payable but in January 1878 the collection of this tax was suspended. In June 1877 the tax on passes was likewise suspended since the Transvaal government was of the opinion that the pass system of the South African Republic had not met its purpose. In August 1879, however, Sir Owen Lanyon, who had succeeded Shepstone as acting administrator of Transvaal in March 1879, reinstated the payment on passes.

Meanwhile the administration of Blacks had virtually ground to a halt as a result of the war against the Pedi.  Consequently it was decided to postpone all steps in connection with Blacks and the appointment of officials to administer them, until after the war. The defeat of the Pedi in November 1879 and the meeting of a Legislative Council in March 1880 for the first time since the annexation of April 1877 placed the Transvaal government in a position to pay attention to these matters. A Native Commissioner was therefore appointed for each of the Transvaal districts with a large Native population. A number of laws were passed to make provision for a uniform hut tax, the institution of pass measures and better governing and administration of justice for Blacks. Provision was made for the statutory recognition of Native law and for the regulation of labour relations between employer and employee.

In spite of the urgency of land question little was done to solve it. In October 1880, however, the land dispute between the Whites and the Ndzundza in the Lydenburg district gave rise to the appointment of the Mapoch Commission to investigate it. Unlike the authorities of the South African Republic, the Transvaal government allowed the Blacks to purchase land which was to be registered in the name of the Secretary for Native Affairs as trustee.

After the Transvaal had been handed back to the Boers in August 1881 the legislation which had been placed on the statute book by the Interim government, was partly retained by the South African Republic or was used as a basis for further legislation.

The dissertation can be accessed at:


Die tydperk in die Transvaalse geskiedenis wat met hierdie werkstuk bestryk word, het al heelwat aandag van sowel tydgenootlike skrywers as latere historici ontvang. Uit die aard van die saak het die aandag in die eerste instansie op die meer dramatiese geval – die Boere se stryd teen Britse oorheersing en hulle pogings om hulle onafhanklikheid terug te kry, wat ten einde laaste op die Eerste Vryheidsoorlog van 1880-1881 uitgeloop het.

‘n Verdere faset waaraan reeds aandag bestee is, is die wyse waarop die Engelse Transvaal in hierdie jare regeer het.(1)  Waarskynlik omdat dit as ‘n aparte tema beskou is, het die skrywer van hierdie werk egter geen aandag aan die Britte se administrasie van die Swartes bestee nie.

Dié aspek van die Britse tydperk in Transvaal het tot dusver weinig aandag ontvang. Weliswaar is sekere aspekte daarvan reeds aangesny, maar met enkele uitsonderings was dit nog nie die onderwerp van wetenskaplike ondersoek waarin die tema in al sy fasette nagevors is nie. In sy The History of Native Policy in South Africa from 1830 to the Present Day (1927), gee E.H. Brookes as ‘n onderdeel van ‘n breër onderwerp kortliks aandag aan die Britte se administrasie van die Transvaalse Swartes. In sy werk Grensbakens tussen Blank en Swart in Suid-Afrika (1947) raak ook P. van Biljon ‘n aspek van hierdie tema aan, hoewel sy behandeling daarvan in meer as in een opsig bevraagteken moet word. Hierna het ook die skrywer hiervan ‘n beskrywing gegee van die Tussen-regering se beleid met betrekking tot die verkryging van eiendomsreg op grond deur die Swartes.(2)  Origens het die tema braak gelê.

Met hierdie werkstuk word gevolglik gepoog om ‘n beskrywing van die Britte se beleid teenoor en administrasie van die Transvaalse Swartes gedurende 1877-1881 te gee. Die studie berus feitlik geheel en al op primêre bronne wat hoofsaaklik in die Transvaalse argiefbewaarplek te vinde is, hoewel ook met groot vrug van materiaal in ander bewaarplekke gebruik gemaak is.

Hierdie verhandeling is elektronies beskikbaar by :


1.    J.A. Vorster, Die Engelse Administrasie van Transvaal gedurende die Eerste Anneksasietydperk, 1877-1881 (1951).

2.    W.A. Stals, Die Kwessie van Naturelle-eiendomsreg op grond in Transvaal, 1838-1884 (1972).

“Open your market to Westfalia avocados.”

This week the Digitisation Office was prickled by a rather peculiar image – a photo of three French-speaking avocados kitted out in the finest Italian gloves and boots. Perplexed? Mind boggled? No idea what we’re on about? Not to worry, all will be revealed soon. We were busy digitising Westfalia: Jan. 1980 – Jan. 1985, a book chronicling the agriculture, forestry and community outreach projects on the Westfalia Estate between 1980 and 1985, when we discovered this intriguing picture. The photo depicts a billboard in the French suburb of Rungis (a region just outside Paris) advertising avocados. And the avocados hail from none other than the Westfalia Estate, a farm situated in the beautiful foothills of the Drakensberg escarpment in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. In 1932, Dr Hans Merensky purchased the Westfalia Estate after retiring from prospecting. But he did not retire in the true sense of the word. Dr Merensky conducted geological research, experimented with novel grass types, researched fruit, researched animal breeding, produced timber, and built a large dam, all the while endeavouring to create sustainable farming practices.

Now back to the billboard. “Ouvrez votre marché aux avocats Westfalia” proclaim the three avocados, which roughly translates to “Open your market to Westfalia avocados.” It’s remarkable how the world has heeded the request of those friendly, slightly plump avocados. Today, Westfalia is the largest avocado grower in Southern Africa, supplying more than 13 million cartons to more than 300 companies in over 40 countries. Besides avocados, Westfalia also produces avocado oil, guacamole and dried mango, and has offices in South Africa, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The Digitisation Office is in the immensely fortunate position of digitising Dr Merensky’s documents and personal notes, a vast collection spanning more than 27 000 pages. The Hans Merensky Foundation contracted the Digitisation Office to digitise the aforementioned collection, thereby preserving Dr Merensky’s legacy. This project will ensure that Dr Merensky’s prodigious life story will be accessible on a grander scale than ever before envisaged.

Billboard in Rungis, France, advertising avocados exported from Dr Hans Merensky's Westfalia Estate in Limpopo, South Africa.  Approximate date of photograph is 1982.

Billboard in Rungis, France, advertising avocados exported from Dr Hans Merensky’s Westfalia Estate in Limpopo, South Africa. Approximate date of photograph is 1982.

“Serial murder: psychological Themes” by J.J. Du Plessis

This book aims to identify and explain certain themes in the psychology of a serial murderer. Understanding the psyche is of main importance. To summarize, research shows that these people display a dependent personality structure with underlying anxiety, these people come across as reasonably normal without indications of sever pathology, these people have an incapacity to form meaningful relationships and there is a possibility that these people grew up in a psychologically deprived environment. 

The book can be found by following this link: