Caring for a South African Treasure: Preserving the Bleek and Lloyd Collection at University of Cape Town Libraries

  • Lesley Hart Manuscripts and Archives Department, University of Cape Town Libraries


In the papers of Dr Wilhelm Bleek, Lucy Lloyd and Dorothea Bleek we have a unique record of the San peoples, in particular the /Xam people, of whom none now remain. The importance of the collections held at University of Cape Town Libraries (UCT), the National Library of South Africa and the South African Museum is recognised by their listing in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. Increasing use of the records by scholars, as well as the need to preserve this valuable South African heritage demands that we find ways both of making it more easily accessible and of preserving it. The collection includes notebooks (over 12,000 pages of the stories and histories of the /Xam and /Kung informants), artworks, photographs and correspondence. A project has recently been completed at UCT Libraries to digitise an album of photographs taken by Dorothea Bleek on several expeditions between 1910 and the late 1920s. While a selection of the photographs has been made available on the web, a major advantage in having the album accessible in electronic form is that the originals no longer have to be handled. The paper deals with the digital imaging project, as well as other work that has been done or is planned regarding preservation of the collection.

ESARBICA Journal Vol.22 2003: 37-42

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0376-4753