museum logo

English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

The History section conducts research on a variety of topics relating to King William's Town and Eastern Cape history. Much of the research is collections-based, drawing on the strengths available in the store room. This includes excellent information and objects relating to Eastern Cape missionary endeavours, local genealogy and objects relating to the German Settlers (1857-1859). The museum also serves as the official repository of the Cape Mounted Riflemen (CMR).
Brownlee StationThe museum is a very popular genealogical resource centre. Apart from individual enquiries, the computerised biographical records have assisted two local group claimants, from Brown-lee Station and Leightonville respectively, with their restitution claims. The Historian subsequently extended her research to include pre-apartheid housing in King William's Town as the subject of her Masters thesis.

Other research interests include local biographies. Publications include Andries Botha (resident of the Kat River and alleged 1850 rebel, and his descendants), Mesach Pelem (local boarding house owner and an early Vice-President of the ANC) and Griffiths Mxenge, ex-Robben Islander and struggle stalwart who was killed in November 1981.

The Historian has also conducted several community outreach programmes. In 2005, for example, a reunion for the erstwhile people of Old Town, the District Six of King William's Town, was held at the museum. For Heritage Day 2007 we invited Ginsberg residents who knew Stephen Bantu Biko, the well-known Black Consciousness leader, to share their reminiscences with an audience of local learners. The scholars, in return, recited their poetry and took part in a theatrical drama production on the life of Biko. The event was facilitated by the Museum and the Steve Biko Foundation. In July 2008 the Museum hosted and organised 'Widening the Scope: Revisiting the impact of the German Settlers on the Eastern Cape.' Speakers included Dr. Keith Tankard, Pastor Arthur Becker, Dr. Susan Brodrick, Mark Pautz, Gill Vernon and Stephanie Victor & Desmond Kopke. The papers were subsequently edited and is now for sale at the museum for R50.00 per copy.

MerrymakersAn Old Town band, The Merrymakers, c. 1950.

The History department's latest project involves collecting narratives and related objects on King William's Town, focusing on the 1970s and 1980s. The aim of the project is two-fold: To establish an extensive oral record pertaining to King William's Town and the Freedom Struggle and secondly to use a small selection of the interviews in a new 20th century museum exhibition provisionally entitled: Bearing Witness to the Struggle.