Saturday, 11 September 2010

New archives list - Jewish Settlers in South Africa

Another recent addition to the ULRLS Archives catalogue, is Jewish Settlers in South Africa (ICS88)

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, significant numbers of Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe, Russia and elsewhere, to South Africa. The numbers from Russia, escaping extreme persecution, were particularly high. Many were attracted by the potential wealth from the gold mines, but success was not guaranteed and a struggle to become established was experienced by most settlers. However, in due course strong Jewish communities emerged in Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere, and some found considerable financial success. Matters were interrupted by the South African War of 1899-1902, during which many Jews were forced to leave, but the influx resumed when peace was restored. In 1903 the Jewish Board of Deputies was established to provide for the welfare of new immigrants.

The records collected together here are a small sample of source material for the history of these events, and include a list of Jews resident in Johannesburg in c.1915-1917, compiled by the Board of Deputies' War Relief Committee for the purpose of raising funds for East European Jewish immigrants; copies of memoirs and biographical accounts of a small number of Jewish immigrants from the period; and copies of articles on the history of Jews in South Africa.

The material was donated to the Institute of Commonwealth Studies by Baruch Hirson, and appears to have been given to him by Riva Krut, who accumulated it in the course of research work for a thesis on the subject. Riva Krut's thesis, 'Building a home and community: Jews in Johannesburg, 1886-1914' is available in the Commonwealth Studies Library.

The papers include a photocopy of a list of Jews resident in central Johannesburg, together with statistical analysis of addresses and occupations, and note of provenance; memoirs and copies of personal papers of individual Jews, notes from interviews and articles about Jews in South Africa.

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