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Twentieth Century South African History through Biography: Primary sources

course guide

Primary Sources at Duke

The Star  (microfilm)
   S162 / March 1963 - to date
  In the LSC.

Cape Times (microfilm)
S44/ 1935-2003
In the LSC.

Guardian (microfilm)
N1652/ 1937-1952

Africa News (print) 1977-1992, with some missing issues
Perkins/Bostock Library | Periodicals  | A258NE

Africa News Service Archive

In the Special Collections library, finding aid online.

John Hope Franklin Collection for African and African African American Documentation

Librarian: Karen Jean Hunt


Online primary sources

Index and some full text for United Nations documents from 1956 to present.

Africa News
Full text of newsletter covering African events from 1997 via Lexis Nexis.

Black Studies Center
Black Studies Center brings together essential historical and current material for researching the past, present and future of African-Americans, the wider African Diaspora, and Africa itself.


Digital Imaging South Africa  - DISA is a freely accessible online scholarly resource focusing on the socio-political history of South Africa, particularly the struggle for freedom during the period  from 1950 to the first democratic elections in 1994 It is a compilation of approximately forty Southern African  periodical titles, with a wide spectrum of political views, reflecting life in South Africa during  on a diversity of topics such as trade unions, religion, health, culture and gender. Publications reflecting both black and white viewpoints were included, and an attempt has been made to represent distinctive regional variations.

Ethnic Newswatch
Contains the full text of more than 450,000 articles, editorials, and reviews published in nearly 200 ethnic and minority newspapers , magazines, and journals published in the United States from 1960-the present. Provides viewpoints on national and international current events.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Reports
Reports from monitored broadcasts and publications from South Africa and other African countries from 1974-1996. Includes news, interviews, speeches and editorial commentary.

Guardian and Observer
Full text of the British newspapers The Guardian (1821-2003) and its sister paper, The Observer (1791-2003).

Full text of the South African Parliamentary materials (1999-present).  Other  South African legislative materials are available via the Duke Library Catalog here

Lexis Nexis Academic
Click on "Sources" then use the drop-down menu to get to South African newspapers and legal documents.

New York Times 1851-

Periodicals Index Online
Indexes thousands of selected periodicals in the humanities and social sciences from their first issues to 1995.

South African Institute of Race Relations Annual Reports (ALUKA)
This  web page of the Annual Reports of the Institute that insludes links to the full text of these. Interlibrary Loan can request other Institute reports that Duke users require.

Struggles for Freedom in South Africa (ALUKA)
Consists of more than 180,000 pages of documents and images, including periodicals, nationalist publications, records of colonial government commissions, local newspaper reports, personal papers.  Click on "new search in Aluka" button to search.

Times digital archive 1785-1985
The Times (London) full text.   Extensive coverage of South African news and events.

Finding Primary sources in the catalog

  • Go to Advanced Search in the online catalog
  • Under Subject  enter "sources," "personal narratives" or "diaries"
  • Under Keywords enter terms related to your topic 
  • Find Subject Headings related to your topic that include words such as "-diaries" or "-personal narratives"
  • Sample subject headings that are applied to primary sources (click on these in the full record to find similar items):
    • South Africa--History--sources
    • Autobiography--Bibliography
    • Diaries--Women