The processing of Kgosi Bathoen II private archives collection for increased access to archives

Keywords: Access, archival institutions, Bangwaketse, Botswana, kgosi, private archives


National archival institutions are responsible for the acquisition, preservation and making accessible of their nation’s documentary heritage. It is on this basis that the Department of Botswana National Archives and Records Services (BNARS) acquires records through the normal transfer of public records from government agencies as well as donations of private archives. The main purpose of this paper is to analyse the processing of private archives of a prominent “Kgosi” in the history of Botswana, Kgosi Bathoen II of the Bangwaketse ethnic group. This is a qualitative study that used literature review to collect data. It also uses the author’s personal observation, as she was involved in the acquisition and processing of the Bathoen II archives. The key findings suggest that even though Batswana have not been donating their private archives in high numbers, BNARS have made strides in collecting private archives of prominent individuals in the country. Unlike public records, private archives collections may not come in any logical arrangement, which may be a tormenting exercise for the archivist to process and select what is worth preserving. This paper concludes that despite the difficulties encountered in processing a huge collection of private papers with no order, private papers should follow the normal archives’ practice of arrangement and description for eventual access by researchers or users. Additionally, the significance of private archives in filling the gaps found in the national repositories was revealed through Bathoen II collection, as it has information on various aspects of Botswana life, customs, traditions and the people. As such, the collection provides diversity to the nation’s documentary heritage and serves as a rich resource for research. This paper also presents lessons learnt in the preservation of private archives in Botswana.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1012-2796