Papers of Joost de Blank, archbishop of Cape Town

Scope and Content

Diaries and correspondence, 1941-1967; sermons and lectures, 1948-1968; parish and clerical publications, 1948-1952; cuttings and photographs, 1952-1963; autobiography and material for biography, 1960s-1970s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joost de Blank, born in Rotterdam of Dutch parents in 1908, was educated in England. He was ordained in 1932 and served as an army chaplain 1939-44. From 1948 to 1952 he was an Assistant General Secretary to the Student Christian Movement, before coming vicar of the church of St John the Baptist, Greenhill, Harrow. In 1952 he was consecrated Bishop of Stepney and in 1957 succeeded Geoffrey Hare Clayton as archbishop of Cape Town. In South Africa he refused to preach in any church not open to blacks as well as whites, and he opposed clause 29 of the Natives Law Amendment Bill, which gave the civil authorities powers to exlcude non-whites from Anglican churches. In 1960 de Blank called on the Dutch Reformed Church to repudiate apartheid. He also criticised the South African jubilee celebrations: 'This is no time for rejoicing, but for shame'. Ill health forced de Blank to resign from the Anglican archbishopric of Cape Town in 1963. He was subsequently appointed a canon of Westminster Abbey. Illness was to prevent him taking up a new appointment as bishop of Hong Kong and he died in 1968.

Access Information

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including the Data Protection Act 1998.

Other Finding Aids

Anne Akeroyd and Colin Lunt (eds), A Guide to the Southern African Archives in the University of York, (York, 1979).

A typescript catalogue, to file level, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms.

Alternative Form Available

A microfilm copy of the papers (boxes 1-14) is held by the Borthwick Institute (5 reels, 35mm, negative copy, filmed 1976). Reference: MICRO CSAS 39-43.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Dr Charles Fonge, September 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Quotation of personal and unpublished material, in particular from Box XIV, should be approved by the Keeper of Archives. Anyone proposing to undertake a substantial study should consult Mr Justin de Blank.

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York's terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.


Further accruals are not expected.

Related Material

Papers relating to the archishops of Cape Town and Church of the Province of South Africa are held by the Library of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (collection reference AB2546), including some papers relating to de Blank (section D4 refers).


The papers were drawn on by Bartha de Blank for her biography, Joost de Blank: a personal memoir (Boydell Press, Ipswich, 1977).


Geographical Names