Fonds BC1268 - Black Sash Trust Archive

Reference code

ZA UCT BC1268

Title

Black Sash Trust Archive

Date(s)

  • 1995 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

ca 5800 items

Name of creator

(1955-)

Administrative history

Born in 1955 out of outrage over an artificial enlargement of the Senate that enabled entrenched clauses of the 1910 Constitution to be amended, the Black Sash has fought tirelessly against injustice and inequality in South Africa for six decades. When the first six women mobilised the support of thousands of others to march in protest against laws aimed at removing so-called ‘coloured’ people from the voters’ roll, they could have had little idea of what was to follow. It all started when the six middle-class white women - Jean Sinclair, Ruth Foley, Elizabeth McLaren, Tertia Pybus, Jean Bosazza, and Helen Newton-Thompson – met for tea on 19 May 1955 to discuss the specific Parliamentary Bill designed to increase the number of National Party representatives in the Senate in order to pass the Separate Representation of Voters Bill. Calling themselves the ‘Women’s Defence of the Constitution League’, they organized marches, petitions, overnight vigils, protest meetings and a convoy of cars from Johannesburg to Cape Town. They became known for the symbol of a black sash, worn by members, and draped over a symbolic replica of the Constitution when the Senate Bill and the Separate Representation of Voters Bill were eventually passed. Despite their failed challenge, the women of the League refused to pack away their black sashes, worn in mourning over the loss of Constitutional rights. Instead, they formally took on the name of the Black Sash and embarked on new campaigns against the erosion of civil liberties, racial segregation and the damage inflicted by the policy of migrant labour.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Scope and content

Records of the Black Sash Trust, which was formed when the Black Sash evolved from a membership organisation to a non-governmental organisation.

The collection contains correspondence, minutes, reports and papers pertaining to discussions, conferences, workshops, projects and research.

Subjects include socio-economic rights, poverty, social welfare and social security. Also included is material re domestic violence, rights of the child, violence against women and the economic empowerment of women.

There are also records of the Black Sash Trust’s liaison with legal bodies, such as the Association of Law Societies, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, the South African Law Commission and the South African Human Rights Commission, mostly on legal and human rights issues.

Accruals

System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

No restrictions apply

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Finding aids

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Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

2013

Language(s)

  • English

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