University of Cape Town Libraries: Special Collections (Manuscripts and Archives)

Identity area



Authorized form of name

University of Cape Town Libraries: Special Collections (Manuscripts and Archives)

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name

  • UCT Libraries: Special Collections
  • Manuscripts and Archives


  • University
  • Educational

Contact area


Michal Singer (Primary Collections) Primary contact


Principal Archivist, Special Collections


Street address

University Avenue, Upper Campus



Western Cape

Country name

South Africa

Postal code






Description area


Geographical and cultural context

Western Cape, South Africa

Mandates/Sources of authority

Administrative structure

Special Collections is one of several libraries that comprise UCT Libraries. It houses a significant collection of African studies materials, a rare books collection, a visual archive (film and photography), and a substantial number of primary source collections (manuscript/archives). AtoM@UCT is as the archival management and access tool for the primary source collections housed in Special Collections.

Records management and collecting policies


The JW Jagger Reading Room is situated on University Avenue, Upper Campus. See


Special Collections boasts some 1500 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 the personal papers of prominent people, or whose papers constitute an important record of Southern African social history; the papers of communities not strongly represented in archives; corporate papers from non-governmental organisations, companies or institutions; the 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; the oral history of South Africa; papers and other materials associated with important social, historical, or cultural issues or movements.

Finding aids, guides and publications

Guides are high level summaries of the holdings in Special Collections. To access a guide, enter the prefix in the AtoM@UCT search box:

MG - Guide to the Manuscripts in the University Of Cape Town Libraries

Prefixed codes for collections by type:
BC - used as a prefix to a fonds deriving from an individual or an organisation, e.g., BC1329 The Colin Legum Papers; BC1421 The Mountain Club of South Africa archive
BCS - used as a prefix to a fonds that consists of a single item or a very small number of items. All our BCS fonds are described together at (or enter BC_S in the search box)
BP - The Manuscripts & Archives Photograph Collection. This is an on-going project. See
BCZ - microform collections. See
BUZV - thematically arranged collection of primarily photographs and clippings pertaining to the history of UCT. See

Access area

Opening times

Weekdays: 08h30 to 17h30 (17h00 during vacation times)
Saturdays: 09h00 to 13h00 (12h30 during vacation times)

Access conditions and requirements


Users with disabilities are advised to use the entrance to the Reading Room on Library Road. There is no elevator from the entrance on University Avenue.

Services area

Research services

Reproduction services

Digital materials provided on this platform are for research purposes only. Permission to publish, copy, or otherwise use these images must be obtained from Special Collections.

Public areas

Control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

Access points

Access Points

  • African studies (Thematic area)
  • South African history (Thematic area)
  • University of Cape Town history and development (Thematic area)
  • Arts and Culture (Thematic area)
  • Education (Thematic area)
  • Labour (Thematic area)
  • Law and Justice (Thematic area)
  • Medicine and Health (Thematic area)
  • Politics and Government (Thematic area)
  • Genealogical (Thematic area)
  • Africa (Geographic subregion)
  • Clipboard

Primary contact

University Avenue, Upper Campus
, Western Cape