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. Many of the early photographs are of Cape Town and its surroundings, reflecting its architecture, environment, and the city’s early development. Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature is a rare body of work that found its way to the African continent. There is also a considerable archive reflecting UCT’s memory and history. We are also engaged in projects that aim to keep the archive alive and in conversation with the South African heritage and memory.
UCT Photography Collection
The archive houses social history and anthropology collections of Bleek and Lloyd, Hunter-Wilson and Martin West. New material from the 1950s to contemporary times includes the archives of Jürgen Schadeberg and Ernest Cole.
Other seminal collections complement the early historic images: The Cordoned Heart an investigation into poverty and development, Beyond the Barricades an anthology documenting resistance to apartheid, the Staffrider exhibitions, as well as photographers such as Guy Tillim, Greg Marinovich, George Hallett, Paul Grendon, Chris Ledochowski, Graeme Williams and others.
We are also engaged in projects that aim to keep the archive alive and in conversation with the South African heritage and memory: Underexposed is a collection of highly significant but off-the-radar photographers; The Other Camera is an anthology of vernacular photography; while the Ernest Cole Award supports contemporary South African photography.
Photographs of the University of Cape Town campuses, departments, staff, and events, dating from the University’s beginnings as the South African College in 1905 to the present.
This is known as the BUZV collection. View a selection on ibali, UCT's Digital Collections website.
Western Cape Life
Photographs of people and places in the Western Cape, dating from the 1800s to the 1990s.
Includes a collection of images of early Cape Town and surrounds, as well as well-known personalities in and around the Cape from the early 1900s. This is known as the MacMillan collection, not to be confused with the press clippings files of the same name.