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 »»  CENTENARY  ««


The Society turned 100 in August 2018. Since its inception in 1918, it has published one volume of meticulously edited original South African historical documents almost every year. It was established in 1918 because its founders sought to provide a sense of the historical roots of the first new South Africa created in 1910, the Union of South Africa.

Now, in the second new South Africa, the Society continues to pursue that same goal, but with a much wider sense of our roots. Thus, in recent years we have added to the diverse array of our publications works by a broader range of South African historical figures, some in their original Dutch, Afrikaans, Setswana and isiXhosa, but translated into English for the first time.  We believe that there is a need to make available in print an even greater variety of Southern African voices from our past and this is what we aim to do in the second century of our existence. In carrying out this task we believe that we are helping to widen and deepen knowledge of the history of Southern Africa and make it more accessible to all.

One of the ways in which we have marked this historic anniversary was by launching a Centenary Fund to secure the financial foundation necessary for our next 100 years of publishing high-quality volumes of historical documents relating to Southern Africa’s past.


The appeal was (and still is) to members and supporters to make a generous, once-in-a-century donation to the Society’s Centenary Fund. But for the Society and its volumes, many key documents on Southern Africa’s history would never have been made available to the public. By donating, donors will help to build a firm financial base for our Society’s future, thereby ensuring for all a better understanding of both the past and the present of our sub-continent.

Donors in 2018 were listed in one of five categories in our 100th volume as well as on our website. The names of future donors will be added to the latter. The five donor categories are:

DIAMOND donors: (those who give R50,000 or more)

PLATINUM donors: (those who give R20,000 or more)

GOLD donors: (those who give R10,000 or more)

SILVER donors: (those who give R2,500 or more)

BRONZE donors: (those who give R300 or more)im 

The Society is delighted to announce that to date (31 October 2018) an amount of R565 000 has been raised in response to our Centenary Appeal. We acknowledge the generous donations from members and supporters to mark its centenary. This fund will help sustain the Society in its second century as it continues to pursue its original goal, ‘to print, or re-print, for distribution among the members and for sale to the public, rare and valuable books, pamphlets and documents relating to the history of Southern Africa.’   The list of donors to whom we are most grateful for their contributions can be viewed here:

Donations may still be made by EFT or direct deposit into our bank account (see below), or by cheque or cash submitted to our office. Please use as reference “CENTFUND and your name” and send proof of payment to office@vanrs.co.za.

Banking details:
Van Riebeeck Society
Bank:               Standard Bank, Thibault Square, Cape Town.
Account:         Current Account (07 051 2035).  Branch code (02 090 9)
Swift Code:     SBZAZAJJ



A series of lectures under the title of  "The Van Riebeeck Society and the making of Southern African History" was presented at the UCT Summer School during May 2018 in celebration of the Society's Centenary. For more information click here to go to the Activities Page.

The Society held a two-part, two-venue celebration on 29 August 2018, exactly 100 years since in was founded. The first part was at the National Library of South Africa in Cape Town where a richly-varied exhibition was opened by Najwa Hendrickse of the library under the auspices of which our Society was founded in 1918. This was followed by a convivial, celebratory cocktail party at the Centre for the Book in Queen Victoria Street. On the program of this function was a toast given by our guest-of-honour, noted historian Professor Bill Nasson. There was also a display of our 100 volumes, with an opportunity to take a ‘selfie’ alongside them (‘the selfie of the century’), a slide show, an opinion board, staged readings of ‘gems’ from our 100 volumes and a light-hearted quiz (with prizes), clues for which were found at the exhibition at the National Library.

The celebration was attended by 170  members and invited guests, and was a great success, with its well-integrated mix of words, images and live music, of celebration, sociability and erudition. Those present commented enthusiastically on the imaginative variety of the evening's proceedings and their well-conceived framework and smooth orchestration. A video of these proceedings has been produced and can be viewed by clicking on the link below: 

VRS Centenary celebration 29 Aug 2018.mp4


 Below are photographs of the proceedings at the National Library and the Centre for the Book on 29 August 2018.




Guests sitting down before the start of the proceedings











Dr   Abner Nyamende welcoming the guests  













The Chairman Prof Howard Phillips acting as Master of Ceremonies














The "Beau Soleil String Quartet" providing the background music














  Food Table













 Guests chatting between events














The Society hosted a two-part celebration in Gauteng on 10 and 11 October 2018, in collaboration with our joint hosts, the History Departments of the University of Pretoria and the University of Johannesburg. Our guest of honour and keynote speaker at both gatherings was Professor Archie Dick, Head of the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria and an international expert on the history of reading and books, who reflected on the history of the Society and offered some useful suggestions for consideration for our future relevance as we enter our post-centenary period. Our chairman, Professor Howard Phillips, also addressed the two events.

Highlights of the two gatherings were selected readings from our past volumes done by post-graduate students of both universities, all done with great enthusiasm and passion, as well as the quiz which had proven successful in Cape Town – and in which members and guests convincingly demonstrated their knowledge without access to clues from the exhibition in the National Library! The two events, which attracted a combined total of 80 people, concluded with enjoyable conversation over drinks and snacks. The Society is very grateful to the History Departments of both Universities for hosting us.


           The three students who read extracts from our volumes at the function in Pretoria,

Nobungcwele Mbem (left), Ranjitha Chetty (third from right) and Andrew Harris (second from right)                                                                                                                            

                                                                 together with  Mr Nick Southey, Proff Howard Phillips and Archie Dick.