Fonds BC1081 - Jack Simons Papers

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Jack Simons Papers


  • ? (Creation)

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Circa 200 archival boxes

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Biographical history

Jack Simons was born in Riversdale, Cape Province, in 1907, where his father was town clerk as well as owner and publisher of two local newspapers. He was lecturer, senior lecturer and then Associate Professor in African Studies at the University of Cape Town between 1937 and 1967. A committed Communist and vigorous intellectual, Jack Simons was served with a number of banning orders by the apartheid regime, the first being in 1952. In December 1964 his banning order also barred him from teaching, writing or attending gatherings. He left South Africa with trade unionist Ray Simons (nee Alexander), whom he had married in 1941. After a two year sojourn at the University of Manchester and in London they settled in Zambia. The couple spent twenty-five years in exile, returning to South Africa in 1990. On 24 June 1994 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by UCT. Jack passed away in July 1995. His Struggles in Southern Africa for survival and equality was published posthumously in 1996.

Archival history

The collection was initially arranged at the Nordiska Institute, and later transferred to Special Collections.

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Scope and content

Papers of Prof. Jack Simons and his wife, Ray Alexander, reflecting the immense contribution made by the Simons' to the political, trade union and intellectual life of South Africa. A very important source for the history of the South African liberation movement, as well as the history of the trade union movement, the African National Congress and the SA Communist Party.


Papers donated by Ray Simons have been added to the original collection.
Additions from Tanya Barben in 2013 have been integrated as follows:
At A1.10: Memorial service notifications for Jack Simons
At A4.1: Inserts removed from family Bible
At Y13: Death certificate of Ray Simons; numerous photographs; small silver notebook inscribed by Eli Weinberg (31 December 1939); school project by Jack Simons on cape Town

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Finding aids

Only a high level record is kept in AtoM. A PDF finding aid is available at

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Publication note

Comrade Jack: The Political Lectures and Diary of Jack Simons, Novo Catengue
Hugh Macmillan: Jack Simons: Teacher, Scholar, Comrade

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