Records of the South African Colonisation Society

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of the following.

Executive Committee: minutes including a report from Lady Malmesbury's Committee of Enquiry and a draft letter; Finance Committee: volume of minutes and unbound duplicate minutes; minutes of the shipping, Rhodesia, Rhodes Hostel, Transvaal, Orange River, Cape Colony and Natal subcommittees; Annual Reports: 1903-1905, 1908-1909, 1910-1912, 1913-1916, 1916-1919; volumes of correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

South African Colonisation Society (1902-1919) was established in a period when British society perceived to have a problem of 'surplus' single women in Britain and several emigration schemes to lessen this number came into existence. The South African Colonisation Society was the inheritor of the South African Expansion Scheme Committee established in 1899. Its purpose had been to act as a provisional subcommittee of the United British Women's Emigration Association, its task, to expand British colonising emigration to South Africa after the Boer War. This administrative framework continued until 1901 when it became a separate committee and by 1902 it had set up it own committees on education, work in counties, drawing room meetings and a shipping sub-committee. In 1903 it became an independent body functioning under the name of the South African Colonisation Society and continued as such until after the First World War. In the immediate post-war period, it helped co-ordinate female emigration as part of the Joint Council of Women's Emigration Societies. This was to be a central body which co-ordinated women's emigration after the war and liased with the government. Full merger of the South African Colonisation Society with the two other organisations did not occur until 1919, after government pressure was applied to centralise funding of the schemes and widen the scope of their activities. The amalgamation resulted in the creation of the Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women.

The South African Colonisation Society (1902-1919), an offshoot of the United British Women's Emigration Association, was originally founded in 1899 as a South African Subcommittee when the United British Women's Emigration Association became very occupied with furthering emigration to the colonies there. From 1901 the committee was known as the South African Expansion Scheme Committee (SAX). By the end of 1902 the South African Colonisation Society had set up committees for education, work in counties, drawing-room meetings and a Shipping Subcommittee. During World War I there was very little emigration, and the South African Colonisation Society, Colonial Intelligence League and British Women's Emigration Association participated in a Joint Council of Women's Emigration Societies, all dissolving and amalgamating in 1919 as the Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

All the records in Strand 1 were offered to The Fawcett Library by the Women's Migration & Overseas Appointments Society when it was being wound up in 1964. Miss Vera Douie, Librarian of The Fawcett Library, appraised the records, selecting minute books, annual reports and a number of old journals. The few files selected for retention were concerned with the Companies Acts and the Society's overseas

properties. The Commonwealth Relations Office arranged for HM Stationery Office to dispose of confidential files. Other files not deemed of historical significance were destroyed through the same agency.

The records came to The Fawcett Library in Dec 1964 and were catalogued in Apr 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Fragile: please handle with care: some items need extensive repair.

Related Material

The Women's Library holds the following records in Strand 1:

1BWE British Women's Emigration Association

1CIL Colonial Intelligence League

1FME Female Middle Class Emigration Society

1SAX South African Colonisation Society

1SOS Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women

Also of relevance at The Women's Library are:

4TAS Travellers Aid Society

5GFS Girls Friendly Society

See also:

* Lady Knightly of Fawsley Papers kept at Northants County Record Office.

* When the South African Expansion Committee of the BWEA was discussing its future organisation and plans for South African emigration, Sir John Ardagh put forward some plans which were considered - see the Minute Books. See also Sir John Ardagh's Papers - The National Archives (UK) 30 / 40 Box 118

Geographical Names