The Laredo South African Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

(1) Field research in Ndwedwe : typed/handwritten notes and letters. (2) Files on South African society : research papers, articles, press cuttings, handwritten/typed notes. (3) Writings, including thesis drafts. (4) Career : correspondence with South African and British academics, South African Commissioner of Prisons, etc.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Laredo was born in Pretoria in 1932, of an Afrikaner family. He studied History and Native Administration at Stellenbosch University, then read for a master's degree at King's College, Cambridge, returning in 1958 to South Africa. After lecturing in African studies at the University of Cape Town, he moved to Durban in 1959. From 1959 to 1960 he undertook anthropological fieldwork among Zulu-speaking Nguni in the Shongweni, Ndwedwe and Inanda areas, in one of the coastal reserves of Natal. While writing his report and teaching at the University of Natal, he registered for a Ph.D. with the University of Cape Town. In 1962 he was appointed lecturer in charge of Social Anthropology at the Port Elizabeth branch of Rhodes University. John Laredo was one of a generation of white South Africans who opposed the apartheid regime. He was involved locally with the African National Congress, but also had been part of a movement in Transvaal to sabotage government installations. On 6 August 1964 he was arrested and detained under the '90-day' detention clause and was then jailed for five years after refusing to give evidence against his comrades. His report on land tenure, land usage and chieftainship was still being edited at the time of his arrest. It was issued (by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Natal) in a temporary form, with the intention of re-editing on his release. He applied for permission to work on his almost-finished thesis, but permission was refused, despite further requests from fellow-academics and Helen Suzman M.P. On his release from prison in 1969, he was the subject of a banning order under the Suppression of Communism Act and left South Africa for the U.K.. The banning order not only prevented him from publishing or submitting his thesis while he was in South Africa, but also prevented any South African university from accepting it. From 1970-71, he was resident visiting fellow at King's College, Cambridge. He joined the teaching staff of the University of Bradford in 1972. In the Sociology Section of the School of Social Sciences he provided the comparative and historical dimension to a group whose main concern was the sociology of industrial societies. After 20 years lecturing at Bradford, serious illness forced him to retire in 1993. John Laredo was a strong supporter of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, of which he was secretary through the 1980s. In 1992, he was able to return to visit a post-apartheid South Africa. He died in October 2000, aged 68.

Conditions Governing Access

Available to researchers, by appointment.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dr. Laredo's partner, Ailsa Swarbrick, in June 2002.


Mostly in English, with some Afrikaans and Zulu.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Additional Information

Obituary in The Guardian, 18 October 2000, p.24.