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University of London event highlights archive documenting the South African Anti-Apartheid struggle

On 7 June 2022, the Friends of Senate House Library hosted a discussion around one of the Library’s newest acquisitions – The Paul and Adelaide Joseph Archive.

Paul Joseph and others leaving Pretoria Prison, August 1962
The Archive contains a photo of Paul Joseph and other anti-apartheid campaigners leaving Pretoria Central Prison, August 1960

The Archive, which is now open to researchers and the public for viewing, documents much of the South African Anti-Apartheid struggle. It contains photographs, as well letters and postcards, written by Nelson Mandela and addressed to his friends, the Anti-Apartheid campaigners, Paul and Adelaide Joseph. 

At the online event, we were joined by Nadia Joseph, who is the daughter of Paul and Adelaide Joseph and an active social justice campaigner in her own right. Speaking with Richard Epsley, Head of Modern Collections at Senate House Library, Nadia talked about the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Archive, and offered insight into the documents it contains.

The event also featured a Q&A and closing remarks from Dr Sue Onslow, Acting Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. You can watch a recording of the event on the Senate House Library YouTube channel.

Watch a recording of the lecture

Following the donation of the Archive to Senate House Library, Nadia said:  

“Much of my parents’ collection has never been seen outside of the Joseph family. After a long and considered journey exploring where to donate it, they chose Senate House Library. Not only is London the city they made their home after my father was forced to flee South Africa, it became the centre of the international Anti-Apartheid solidarity movement.  

Education is key to freedom both physical and spiritual so our hope is that Senate House Library will be the best custodian of their precious archive and enable the widest possible access to it.

My sister Tanya studied for her Master's degree in South African history whilst she was a student at SOAS and spent time studying at Senate House Library. What is more, the archives of a number of my parents’ close friends/comrades, are housed here. These include the papers of Ruth First, Joe Slovo and Mandela’s first biographer, Mary Benson. As a family, we feel that no monetary figure should ever be attached to their archive. Education is key to freedom both physical and spiritual so our hope is that Senate House Library will be the best custodian of their precious archive and enable the widest possible access to it.”

More information about the Paul and Adelaide Joseph Archive can be found on the Senate House Library website.

Learn more about the Friends of Senate House Library and how to join.