Columbia University Libraries’ Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers and the records of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Southern Africa Project.
Ms. McDougall served as the Director of the Southern Africa Project for 14 years and was the only American to be appointed to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The IEC was the South African governmental body established through the multi-party negotiations to set policy and administer the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, resulting in the election of President Nelson Mandela and the transition from apartheid.
The McDougall papers contain unique documentation of the activities and decisions of the IEC from the perspective of a member of the Commission and reveal a day-by-day detailed picture of the challenges confronted by the commission in mounting South Africa’s first democratic elections.”For nearly two decades, I was privileged to have a front-row seat to one of the greatest human dramas of the twentieth century: the defeat of apartheid,” said Ms. McDougall. “I was also fortunate to be able to play a substantive role in that struggle. I hope that the donation of my papers to Columbia will increase the chance that future scholars will benefit from the lessons of that victory.”
The papers document a pivotal period between 1980-1994 when Ms. McDougall and lawyers in South Africa and Namibia collaborated on the defense of and gained the release of thousands of political prisoners and detainees imprisoned during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and Namibia. Among the papers is a collection of nearly 100 files on the trials of the political activists supported by the Southern Africa Project including non-confidential communications between Ms. McDougall and the lawyers representing those activists. Additionally, the papers document Ms. McDougall’s role in the United States-based anti-apartheid movement and the international networking that took place among activists, including efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy. Other key events and topics reflected in the collections include the establishment of the Commission on Independence for Namibia, and the development of judicial and constitutional norms, institutions, and legislation during the post-apartheid transitional period.
The Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers include correspondence, memoranda, photographs, videos, ephemera such as election ballots, original local news coverage, and Ms. McDougall’s diaries from trips to South Africa, Namibia and the Frontline States. Unique collections of publications by South African organizations including books, reports and briefing papers are also part of this remarkable collection. “Scholars and students researching the history of South Africa and Namibia during the final decade of apartheid and the transition years 1990-1994 will find that these papers are a treasure trove of information,” stated Professor Gail Gerhart, editor of the book series From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882-1990. “Columbia is privileged to receive this collection assembled by Gay McDougall, a major figure in the international antiapartheid movement.”
***Please note that research access to The Gay MacDougall Papers collection will not be possible until April 2014 or soon thereafter.
The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research supports the community of teachers, students, researchers, and law and social justice advocates working in the multidisciplinary sphere of human rights.
For more about the Center:: http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/humanrights.html
For more information about the African studies collections at Columbia: http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/global/africa.html