South African History Archive (SAHA)

Identity area



Authorized form of name

South African History Archive (SAHA)

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name


Contact area


Debora Matthews Primary contact




Street address

University of the Witwatersrand 1 Jan Smuts Avenue





Country name

South Africa

Postal code



+27 11 717-4285




Description area


The South African History Archive (SAHA) was established by anti-apartheid activists in the 1980s, and was closely connected in its formative years to the United Democratic Front, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the African National Congress. It is an independent human rights archive dedicated to documenting, supporting and promoting greater awareness of past and contemporary struggles for justice through archival practices and outreach, and the utilisation of access to information laws.

Geographical and cultural context

Mandates/Sources of authority

SAHA is a registered Non-Profit Trust (registration no. 2522/93) in terms of section 6(1) of the Trust Property Control Act (No. 57 of 1988). As such, SAHA is governed by a board of trustees.

SAHA is also registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (registration no.: 031-807-NPO) in terms of the Non-Profit Organisation Act (No. 71 of 1997), and a Public Benefit Organisation (registration no. 130002891) in terms of section 10(1)(cN) of the Income Tax Act (No. 58 of 1962.)

SAHA is now politically non-aligned, and is committed to:

  • Recapturing lost and neglected histories;
  • Recording aspects of South African democracy in the making;
  • Bringing history out of the archives and into schools, universities and communities in new and innovative ways;
  • Extending the boundaries of freedom of information in South Africa;
  • Raise awareness, both nationally and internationally, of the role of archives and documentation in promoting and defending human rights.

Administrative structure

Records management and collecting policies



SAHA's archival collections are largely made up of documents, posters, photographs, ephemera and oral histories donated to SAHA by individuals and organizations involved in past and ongoing struggles for justice in South Africa.

These include significant collections relating to the anti-apartheid struggle, the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In our archive, you will also find collections relating to SAHA's work using freedom of information legislation to promote awareness of access to information in South Africa, as well as materials created or collected in the course of SAHA's various oral history, education, heritage and outreach projects.

While the majority of our collections are paper-based and can only be consulted by visiting our offices in Johannesburg, a small range of digitised copies of documents, posters and photographs can be browsed on this website. Selected digitised archival materials from SAHA collections relating to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission are also accessible on the Traces of Truth website. In partnership with Digital Innovation South Africa (DISA), certain archival materials from key SAHA collections relating to the liberation struggle in South Africa are now digitised and can be accessed for educational and non-commercial purposes on the DISA website.

Finding aids, guides and publications

Access area

Opening times

SAHA is open to all users by appointment only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 08h30 and 14h00 and on Wednesdays between 08h30 and 13h00.
We are currently closed on Fridays.

Access conditions and requirements


The SAHA Reading Room is situated on the East Campus at the Wits History Workshop, Room 217, 2nd Floor, Robert Sobukwe Block, Main campus.

Services area

Research services

Reproduction services

If you are interested in reproducing archival materials from SAHA in a publication, please note that SAHA does not hold copyright for many of our collections and is unable to assist with copyright clearance for publication. Please visit our copyright page for more information about the issues surrounding copyright as it relates to our collections and, more broadly, South African liberation struggle materials .

Please contact Archives at SAHA with any enquiries about reproducing SAHA archival materials.

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

  • Clipboard

Primary contact

University of the Witwatersrand
1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Johannesburg, Gauteng
ZA 2050