Jewish settlers in South Africa, [1915-1982]

Scope and Content

The papers comprise research material accumulated by Baruch Hirson and Riva Krut on Jews in South Africa, and include photocopy of a list of Jews resident in Johannesburg, c1915-1917; extract from memoir of Joseph Ratner (c1871-1960), a Jewish settler in South Africa, 1902; notes of interview with Izzy Rome (b 1892), who settled in South Africa in 1908; copy of memoirs of Morris (Maurice) Schmulian (b c 1903), who settled in Johannesburg, 1906; account by Mary Kropman of the life of Samuel Marks (1844-1920) who settled in South Africa in 1868; and articles about Jews in South Africa.

Administrative / Biographical History

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 c1915-1917, 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.


Apart from the single file of census information, the records have been roughly grouped into two sections: memoirs/personal papers, and articles.

Access Information

Open although advance notice should be given. Access to individual items may be restricted under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued to item level (see link to repository catalogue).

Archivist's Note

Compiled 2000, revised by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project, Aug 2001.

Conditions Governing Use

A photocopying service is available at the discretion of the Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research and private study. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager. There is a specific requirement to refer to the author of one of the memoirs (Morris Schmulian) prior to publication.

Custodial History

The material was donated to ICS 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.

Related Material

Other material on different topics has been donated to ICS by Baruch Hirson: see ICS 3, ICS 4, ICS 32, ICS 60, ICS 88, A119. Riva Krut's thesis, 'Building a home and community: Jews in Johannesburg, 1886-1914' is available in ICS Library [shelfmark DS 135 S6 KRU fol].