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  • 1821 - 2011 (Creation)

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Biographical history

Donovan Williams was a member of staff at the University College of Fort Hare from 1952 to 1959. The college had been established in 1914 as a result of the missionary educational activities of amongst others the Glasgow Missionary Society, Lovedale Missionary Institute, and various churches. In 1959, in pursuit of its policy of apartheid, the South African government took over the control and management of the college through the Department of Bantu Education. In the period leading up to this, the college was the site of upheaval, unrest and uncertainty, leading to a commission of enquiry in 1955. After the transition, many of the existing staff members had their employment terminated, and the nature of the college was irrevocably changed. Apart from his involvement in the affairs of the college during these troubled times, Williams was also interested in the history of missionary activities in the Eastern Cape region. He wrote extensively about personalities such as Tiyo Soga and others who were associated with Lovedale and similar missionary institutions.

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Scope and content

The bulk of the material in this collection concerns the history of the University College of Fort Hare during the troubled period of the late 1950s, when the university was absorbed into the apartheid regime’s increasingly polarised and prejudicial educational system. The materials include administrative documents, personal and professional correspondence, reminiscences, taped interviews, and published articles. There are also items pertaining to Lovedale and some of the eminent alumni of that school, such as Tiyo Soga. For the most part, the materials in this collection have been arranged using annotations and nomenclature used by Donovan Williams on the original file covers and other enclosures in which the materials were housed. The file covers themselves have been preserved as part of the collection as a means of maintaining context and allowing for cross-referencing. There is, further, in the administrative files associated with the collection, correspondence between Donovan Williams and UCT Libraries in which he provides extensive contextual and historical information germane to the collection. Permission to peruse this correspondence can be requested from the manager of Special Collections.


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  • English

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Archivist's note

Prepared by André Landman

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