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The Van Riebeeck Society was founded in 1918 with the purpose of making primary sources available in a readable and enjoyable form to anyone interested in Southern African history. Since then a volume has been published every year, with very rare exceptions. The Society depends for its survival on its members, whose fees finance the publications; and its editors, who have selected and edited the volumes. Society publications have achieved a high academic standard and out-of-print volumes have become valuable Africana.


Our latest publication is the following:

Into the Hitherto Unknown: Ensign Beutler's Expedition to the Eastern Cape

Translated by Thea Toussaint van Hove and Michael Wilson;

Edited and Introduced by Hazel Crampton,
Jeff Peires and Carl Vernon

ISBN 978-0-9814264-4-0

2013 Volume

This year we are publishing as our annual volume the diary of Ensign August Friedrich Beutler's exploratory overland journey to the Eastern Cape in 1752. Its title is Into the Hitherto Unknown (as Beutler's instructions put it) and it will include the original Dutch text face-to-face with a lively, first-time ever English translation (by Thea Toussaint van Hove and the late Michael Wilson). The volume is introduced and edited by Hazel Crampton and Jeff Peires who have added exhaustive footnotes to elucidate the rich text which, inter alia, reveals a very different situation on the ground in the pre-colonial Eastern Cape to that currently presented by historians. In addition, Carl Vernon has recalculated Beutler's route (the original compass readings given by Beutler would have landed him in the middle of the Indian Ocean!) and mapped the route accordingly in this volume. Portions of the expedition's original colour map by Carel Wentzel are also included.
The Cape Town launches as well as the Eastern Cape ones, were great successes! For story and pictures, see the Activities page.
We have our first review from Grocott's Mail - have a look at
And here's a good long one in the QB:

We have a volunteer!
Mrs Emile Shreve started with us on Wednesday 26th February. She will be coming into the office every Wednesday all the way from Somerset West to help with parcelling, receipting, filing and other jobs. We are so happy to have her - and hope she will be happy working for us. Welcome, Emile!

New subscription rates for 2014
We have increased our local SA members' subs by 10% to R165 per annum. Student members will now pay R120 for their first two years of membership and SADC country members will pay R200 per annum. The foreign memberships will remain at 25, US$45 and €35.

New office hours
From February 10th 2014, the VRS Office in the Centre for the Book will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (not Fridays) from 9.30 to 13.30. Sandra Commerford will be on duty on Mondays and Cora Ovens will be in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Another winner!

Ms Sharlene Naidoo, a third year Bachelor of Education student at UKZN’s Edgewood campus, won the Van Riebeeck Society Book Prize for the Best Final Year History Education undergraduate student in 2013. See her photo and the full story by clicking on the link below:
http://ndabaonline.ukzn.ac.za/UkzndabaStory/NdabaOnline-Vol1-Issue11/Bachelor Of Education Student Wins Van Riebeeck Society Book Prize

SAHA Conference

The Conference was held on 27th to 29th June in Gaborone this year. Several of our council members attended and gave papers, including Prof Howard Phillips. We had a table at the conference, sold 10 of our volumes and gained one new member.

Prof Anton Ehlers staffing our table at the SAHA conference in Gaborone

And here is Prof Howard Phillips with Prof Sandra Swart, newly elected president of SAHA and Mr Sylvester Dombo of UKZN who received the prize of a VRS volume for the best student paper at the Gaborone conference

Nick Southey (our Gauteng Council member) with (left) Professor Jane Carruthers of UNISA and (right) Professor Karen Harris of Pretoria University and the VRS table and volumes in the background!

Lucky Winner!

Adriaan Naude, first year History student at the University of Pretoria, receiving our Xuma volume as a prize for the best History essay from Dr Nisa Paleker, who made the presentation on our behalf on 18th April 2013 at a function at the University for top achievers.

Gift Token

We designed a gift token (to be used for either gift memberships or volumes) a couple of years back. Exco decided it should be available on the web - and here it is! With Christmas coming soon, what could be a better gift than a membership or a favourite volume of one of our books? Simply download the gift token, complete it and send to us with your payment (R150 for membership; consult us about prices for books). We'll stamp it and forward it to the lucky recipient!

We present a "Phoenix Collection" to Stellenbosch

See our Activities page.

 Changed Banking Details

Our Standard Bank branch at Adderley Street has closed down (without warning us). Our new banking details are: Standard Bank, current account, Thibault Square, Branch code 02 0909, Account no 07 051 2035


We are happy to announce to our foreign members ONLY that we now have Paypal. To pay your subs (of $45), simply click on the Subscribe button. South African members pay, as usual, by cheque or direct bank transfer (EFT).


We're now on Facebook!  Click on  to add your views and comments on this innovation

Extra-special offer for members only – rock-bottom prices!

In order to clear some space in our store room, we have decided to make a special offer to members only: you may order any of the back volumes on the list at a price of R50 post free (within South Africa) – as many copies as you like and as long as stocks last! Contact Cora Ovens to place your orders at vanriebk@mweb.co.za or 021 423 8424 (Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays 9.30 to 13.30 or leave a message when no one is in the office).