History Research

Much of the research conducted by the History Department is collections-based, drawing on the strengths available in our displays storerooms. This includes, but is not limited to, the narratives of the town and the surrounding area, Eastern Cape missionary endeavours, the German Settlers (1857-1877) and local struggle history which remains an ongoing interest of the section.  

Entrance to Brownlee Station, Qonce

The museum is a very popular genealogical resource centre and answer enquiries using our 300 000 strong biographical database developed over many years. Apart from individual genealogical enquiries, we have also assisted local group claimants with their restitution claims. This also informed research conducted by the historian, Dr. Stephanie Victor, on pre-apartheid housing in the Qonce (formerly King William’s Town) which formed part of her Masters’ dissertation. 

The historian’s PhD focused on Xhosa-speaking royal women (amakhosikazi) of the Eastern Cape. Her dissertation is interested in the spaces where elite women enacted socio-political agency, but also how female royals negotiated the limitations, informed by traditional custom and subsequently also colonial and missionary-dictated patriarchy. It locates female power, and specifically elite women influencers, female rulers and female chiefs in an independent, seventeenth century Eastern Cape. The study then continues by foregrounding the role of female regents and queen mothers as well as, how the amakhosikazi negotiated power/marginalisation where African spirituality, Christianity, war and captivity, in an eighteenth and nineteenth century Eastern Cape.

Her interest in life (hi)stories, and specifically women-centred narratives, continues and she is currently conducting further research on the amakhosikazi, Eastern Cape female missionaries and missionary-educated female pioneers. For a select list of publications see https://rhodes-za.academia.edu/StephanieVictor

Nkosikazi Nofelete in exile, Algoa Bay, 1848. Sketch by George Angas