PALMER, Josie (b 1903)

Scope and Content

Notes of interviews by Julie Wells with Josie Palmer, active in the Communist Party of South Africa, and the African National Congress, and founder member of Transvaal All-Women's Union and the Federation of South African Women), 1928-1955, on 19 and 26 October 1977.

Administrative / Biographical History

Josie Palmer (sometimes the African form of the name is used (Mpama) was born in Potchefstroom, South Africa, in 1903. She refers to herself as 'coloured' but married an African, Edwin Mofutsanyane (a leading member of the Communist Party of South Africa and the African National Congress (ANC), and lived in an African area. She became the first black woman to play a significant part in the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) and in the womens' movement in South Africa.
She came to the fore in Potchefstroom in the 1928 campaign against residential permits and joined the Communist Party then. During the late 1920s and 1930s she wrote for 'Umsebenzi', the Journal of the CPSA. In 1943-1945 she was a member of the CPSA's Anti-Pass Campsign and in March 1944 convened the women's Anti-Pass Conference in Johannesburg. At the 1947 International Women's Day Meeting in Johannesburg a resolution was passed to establish a 'non colour bar women's organisation' and the Transvaal All-Women's Union was formed, with Palmer as the secretary. It did not last very long, and although it changed its title in 1949 to become the Union of South African Women, it never became a national movement. However the idea was planted and Palmer later became a founding member of the Federation of South African Women and President of the Transvaal Branch. She was banned in 1955 before the Pretoria women's demonstration, and never became involved in the Anti-Pass Campaigns of those years.


Single item

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Acquisition Information

Photocopies given to ICS by Baruch Hirson.

Other Finding Aids

See link to repository catalogue.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

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Related Material

The ICS holds a large number of collections relating to South African politics, including African National Congress (ICS 1), Mary Benson (ICS 6), Ruth First (ICS 117), Ruth Hayman (ICS 30), Baruch Hirson (ICS 32), Mandela Trials papers (ICS 52), Z K Matthews (ICS 55), Edward Roux (ICS 67), South African Institute of Race Relations (ICS 95), University of Cape Town (ICS 81-82), University of Transkei (ICS 19).