South African Aid to Britain Fund

Scope and Content

The collection is comprised of a series of albums relating to the youth tours funded by the South African Aid to Britain Fund, containing photographs, information about the tours and inserted material. In addition, three cine films document the tours of the Gold Coast and Nigeria (November 1955 - January 1956.) The rest of the collection comprises two articles on the tours and a few related papers. The collection is accompanied by three pieces of correspondence between D.H. Simpson, R.C.S. Librarian, and Dr S.P. Datta, 22-30 October 1978, regarding the albums and papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1946 Field Marshall Smuts presented the British Government with gifts from the people of South Africa and the High Commission Territories totalling nearly £1,100,000 as an expression of 'their deep sympathy and admiration for the people of Britain in their heroic war effort'. About a half of this total was allocated for the benefit of young people. A sum of £60,000 was assigned to travel parties for youth administered by a committee chaired by Sir Frank Willis. Half this fund was allotted to existing voluntary organisations for specific projects. The remaining sum was used for tours organised directly by the Committee. Between 1950 and 1953 this money was used to send five small groups of young British men and women to visit countries throughout the Commonwealth and Europe to gain first-hand experience of living and working conditions. The tour groups visited Kenya, Tanganyika, the Rhodesias and South Africa, May to September 1950; France, Switzerland and Germany, summer 1951; British Guiana, Trinidad, Barbados, Martinque, Antigua and Jamaica, February and March 1954; the Gold Coast and Nigeria, November 1955 - January 1956; and, lastly, Yugoslavia, Autumn 1956. In March 1958 the Committee presented its final report on how its funds had been spent.

Access Information

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Acquisition Information

Presented by Dr S.P. Datta, 1978, whose mother, Rena Datta, led the last four Aid tours. A few supplementary items were supplied by the Librarian of the Foreign Commonwealth Office.


Includes index.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Additional Information

This collection level description was created by RAS with reference to the article on the collection in the 'Royal Commonwealth Society library notes', no. 228, October-December 1978, pp. 4-7.

Datta, Rena, fl 1951-1978