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Papers of Howard Barrell


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Research material collected by Barrell for his DPhil thesis, comprising transcripts of interviews with ANC leaders and members, and documents by or about the ANC which in Barrell's opinion are rare; with list of material taken from his bibliography.


  • Creation: [1989-1993]


7 lever-arch files

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 2151].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 2151

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 626

Biographical / Historical

Howard Barrell worked as the Harare correspondent of South Africa's Weekly Mail (later the Mail and Guardian), 1985-1988. He was the paper's Political Editor, 1998-2000 and its Editor, 2001-2002, though his family remained based in the United Kingdom. He subsequently became Editor of Johannesburg's Daily Mail and Guardian.

From [1989] to 1993 he collected interviews with leaders and members of the ANC, including those involved with Umkonto we Sizwe, the movement's armed wing, for his doctoral thesis, Conscripts to their Age: African National Congress Operational Strategy, 1976-1986 (Oxford University; 1993).

The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912 in Bloemfontein to promote the freedoms, etc. of the African people in the face of diminishing rights in the recently formed Republic of South Africa.

In 1919 the ANC in the Transvaal began a campaign against the pass laws which required Africans outside demarcated areas to carry passes indicating their lawful presence in designated white areas. Elsewhere, the ANC tried a number of methods of action, including strikes, non-violent protests and appeals to British leaders. However, the coming to power of the National Party in 1948 led to a new militancy and populism in the ANC, including the 1949 Programme of Action and the Defiance Campaign of the 1950s. Increased resistance was met with increasing force on the part of the Government, and in 1960 the Anti Pass Campaign precipated the Sharpeville Massacre. A year later the ANC launched an armed struggle against the Government. Its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe carried out 200 acts of sabotage in eighteen months. Consequently, in 1963, its leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were jailed.

During the 1970s and 1980s the ANC adopted a policy of working more covertly within South Africa whilst appealing for international support, which led to widespread economic sanctions. Strike action during the same period culminated in the 1976 Soweto Riots. The National Party consequently introduced token reforms. However, when the ANC eventually called on its supporters to make townships ungovernable, a state of emergency was declared, while an increasing climate of violence served to destabilise the country. In the 1990s the ANC was unbanned and Nelson Mandela released by President F.W. de Klerk. After his release, Mandela was elected President of the ANC, and four years later (1994) became President of South Africa in the country's first free elections. He was succeeded by fellow ANC member Thabo Mbeki in 1997.

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated to the library by Howard Barrell on 6th October 1993.

Papers of Howard Barrell
Paul Davidson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom