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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.


A lively sketch of some Capetonians by
Alexey Vysheslavtsev

Our latest publication is the following:

'An Entirely Different World': Russian Visitors to the Cape 1797-1870

Edited by Boris Gorelik

ISBN 978–0–9814264-6-4


AGM and Launches of our 2015 volume 

As Boris Gorelik, the editor of our 2015 volume, An Entirely Different World: Russian Visitors to the Cape, 1797-1870, could not be in Cape Town until early this year, we postponed our 2015 AGM until 28 January 2016. The wait was certainly worth it! On a windless summer’s evening, in a splendidly restored Georgian townhouse belonging to one of our members, Patrick Esnouf, about 90 members and guests heard the chair, Howard Phillips, sketch some of the problems facing the VRS in the future, suggest ways in which these might be effectively addressed and float some ideas about how best to mark the Society’s forthcoming centenary in 2018. (View the Annual Report) Have a look at our Activites page for reports on the two Cape Town launches and the Johannesburg launch as well as a wealth of pictures of these occasions! 


 Rolf Proske has been appointed in Cora Ovens’s place as administrator as from 1 February. Rolf was born in post-war Germany and immigrated to this country with his parents in 1952. His formative years here were spent on a wine farm outside Paarl, where he attended primary school. He completed his schooling at Rondebosch Boy’s High, and then began his studies at Rhodes University. He worked as a journalist in Johannesburg before leaving for Europe in 1971. His varied career in England included stints as a builder’s labourer, a waiter in one of London’s fashionable restaurants and an assistant in the Quaker bookshop in London. On his return to South Africa he became a librarian with Cape Town City Libraries and later Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where he founded and managed a research and postgraduate support centre. He retired in 2013 and moved to Fish Hoek. Rolf has a deep love of reading which includes historical topics ranging from the Finnish Winter War to early Cape history.

Rolf Proske

Increase of subscriptions

With great reluctance Council has decided that the annual subscription will have to be raised to R230 p.a. in 2016 to cover increased postal, administrative and printing costs. We regret this unavoidable step.

New Reprint for 2016

The latest reprint of the out-of-print First Series publications is now available. Volume II of Nathaniel Isaac’s Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa (First Series: volume 17), which follows on the publication of Volume I last year, can now be ordered on the Reprints Page. The price is only R130 plus postage and packaging costs for members in Southern Africa and R235 for members in other countries.

New office hours - Please Note!

The opening hours of the VRS office have been changed. We will now be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 09h30 to 12h30. However, e-mail and phone queries will be handled promptly and books dispatched as usual

History Prize Winners at UWC

The prize for the best blog in HIS231 in 2015 went to Roxanne Gouws and Kumbula Xebo who led a blog group called 'Am I not a woman and a sister?' The women of the Atlantic slave trade. This group worked very hard and produced a well-researched blog about female abolitionists in Britain and the USA.  They included many illustrations and much information not covered in lectures. There were 14 group members but not all contributed. The VRS kindly donated copies of Trials of Slavery as prizes. But in the end we only awarded two copies to Ms Gouws and Ms Xebo (who was unable to be at the final lecture). The prize giving was in the final lecture of the academic year. A third copy was awarded to Brent Abrahams, the top student in the Honours course: Family, sex and gender in the VOC world.

Roxanne Gouws with Andrew Bank

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  Simply download the gift token, complete it and send to us with your payment (R230 for membership; consult us about prices for books). We'll stamp it and forward it to the lucky recipient!


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  – rock-bottom prices!

In order to clear some space in our store room, we have decided to make a special offer: you may order any of the back volumes on the list at a price of R80 plus postage (within South Africa) – as many copies as you like and as long as stocks last! Contact the VRS office to place your orders at vanriebk@mweb.co.za or office@vanrs.co.za or 021 423 8424 (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30 to 12.30 or leave a message when no one is in the office).