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for our manuscripts and archives collections

Atom@UCT is the database of finding aids related to archival and unpublished collections in the Special Collections of the University of Cape Town Libraries. Visit

Guide to Manuscripts in UCT Libraries


Special Collections boasts some 1600 discrete archival collections, consisting of original research material relating to the political, social, cultural and economic history of Southern Africa, with a strong focus on the Western Cape. Collections deal with a wide range of subjects, including art, music, education, literature and language, botany, politics and architecture, and include records in all media.

Collections include

  • Personal papers of prominent people, or whose papers constitute an important record of Southern African social history.
  • Papers of communities not strongly represented in archives.
  • Corporate papers from non-governmental organisations, companies or institutions.
  • Personal and research papers of UCT academics.
  • Nonadministrative records relating to the history of UCT.
  • Architectural collections of leading South African architects
  • Papers and record books of ethnic and religious communities and papers of individuals prominent in such communities.
  • Manuscript music scores and personal papers of South African composers
  • Papers relating to labour and trade, and the records of labour unions
  • Oral history of South Africa
  • Papers and other materials associated with important social, historical, or cultural issues or movements.

Other Primary Sources

Audiovisual Archive

The Audiovisual Archive includes some 20,000 items, including 35 and 16-mm film and video.


The photographic archive in Special Collections has material that spans a period from the inception of photography to the present day, from fragile prints to digital format.