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South African History Research Guide

Locate Items about South African History

What is a Primary Source?


Primary sources can be published in books. Use the main search in Library Search and include search terms personal narratives, sources, diaries, memoirs, papers, speeches, documents, or letters.

Personal narratives are a term assigned by librarians and are used for first-person accounts.
Diaries and memoirs are terms used by writers and editors to describe their documents. These are also normally in the first person. 
Autobiography is often assigned to diaries and memoirs.
Letters and correspondence are published correspondence and occasionally include both outgoing and incoming letters.
Papers include correspondence, speeches, and other previously unpublished items by the author.
Speeches were written to be spoken and have often been published.
Sources is another term assigned by librarians and often includes all of the types of documents listed above and government records.

Primary Source List of Websites


PRIMARY SOURCE LIST OF WEBSITES (Boer War material) (mostly secondary sources, but a few primary sources) (official site of the ANC political party, including historical material) (a website about the anti-apartheid movement) (Nelson Mandela Foundation, look under “Mandela Archives”) (a South African non-profit educational organization) (South African government, look under documents and search by date) (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including testimony) (see websites at the end of the webpage) (about the anti-apartheid movement, including interviews) (has Liberation Committee material, available through JSTOR) (also other volumes on Africa) (searchable collection of CIA documents) (oral histories with US diplomats) (US Intelligence documents on Mandela) (interviews with friends of Mandela) (links to digital archives of 20th-century material) (links to oral history interviews on apartheid)

www.historical (historical documents at South Africa’s leading university) (mostly Cold War documents, some Southern Africa)

Primary sourcebooks and articles are also available online, including on JSTOR.