Minutes of the 100th Annual General Meeting of Historical Publications Southern Africa – HiPSA (previously the Van Riebeeck Society for the Publication of Southern African Historical Documents – VRS) held at Ravenswood House, Hatfield Street, Cape Town at 17h30 on Wednesday 27th November 2019.


1. Welcome and apologies

The Chair, Prof Howard Phillips, welcomed the members present, and explained the order of proceedings. The AGM would be followed by the launch of this year’s annual volume, Indoda Ebisithanda (The Man Who Loved Us), edited by Dr Sandra Shell.

Prof Phillips expressed his and the Society’s gratitude to Patrick Esnouf for providing his beautiful home as the venue for the meeting. He thanked the staff of Ravenswood House for their support and assistance, and also Cape Town High School for providing tables and chairs.

Apologies were received from the following:

Bobby Bertrand

Sandra Commerford

Johan de Villiers

Anna Erasmus

Ian Farlam

Marianne Gertenbach

Peter Lee

Jackie Loos

Adam Mendelsohn

Annette Naude

Banie Penzhorn

Joubert Retief

Mary Wade

Reg Wall

William Warrington

Fleur Way-Jones


 2. In memoriam

The meeting stood in silent commemoration while Prof Phillips read out the list of those of our members who passed away during 2019. These were:

Mr S Absolom

Mr R Andrag

Mr M Dunningham

Mr B Leach

Mr M Martinson

Prof S Ridge

Mr A Schaefer

Mr N Schaefer

Mr O van Oordt

Mr B Wagener

Mr B Yeowart

Prof Phillips noted that this was the 100th Annual General Meeting of the society. The first AGM had been held in 1919, and this meeting was therefore a special occasion. He also explained why the last AGM had been held in January 2019. The explanation was condoned by the meeting.

3. Minutes of 99th annual general meeting on 31 January 2019

Copies of the minutes of the 99th AGM had been provided. The minutes were accepted. Hugh Amoore proposed, and Tanya Barben seconded.

4. Matters arising not on the agenda

There were no matters arising not on the agenda.

5. Report of the Treasurer

The Treasurer, Mr Danie de Villiers, reported. Financial documentation had been circulated and Mr de Villiers referred to these while he gave his report – see documents attached. The audited results from 2018 would be signed by Prof Phillips. Referring to the balance sheet, Mr de Villiers noted that short term investments had doubled. Capital from the centenary fund had been invested.

Mr de Villiers stated that R526 000 had been received in 2018 towards the centenary fund, while in 2019 R14 700 had been received. The target of R600 000 was therefore attainable.

Of the royalties received from Kwela Books for the paperback edition of the Selope Thema volume, R2 000 had been donated to the Thema family trust.

With an estimated surplus of R50 000 in 2019, the financial situation was healthy.

Prof Phillips signed the audited results and Dr Elizabeth van Heyningen thanked Mr de Villiers for his hard work.

6. Report of the Chair

Before delivering his report, Prof Phillips noted that while the financial situation was satisfactory, membership figures had been in decline since 2010. There were currently 607 fully paid up members, 45 fewer than in 2018.

Answering a question from the floor, Prof Phillips stated that the society only had about 30 institutional members. There had been scant response to an attempt to recruit more academic institutions.

Mr David Leishman suggested contacting “sleeping” members personally. Prof Phillips noted that the office staff had done so, without much success. He said that a particular problem was that older members who were in retirement often downscaled their activities, and therefore resigned from the society. Fewer volumes (139) had been sold to non-members this year. However, in 2019 118 reprints had been sold as against 100 in 2018.

Prof Phillips displayed an example of our new “calabash” logo.

Mr David Leishman queried whether the society could attend the book fair held annually in Johannesburg, but Prof Phillips explained that the costs involved were prohibitive. The Franschhoek book festival had expressed no interest in inviting the society.

Mr Paul Mills asked about the run decided on each volume. Prof Phillips said a call was made on the what the prospective appeal of the volume would be, although some calls, such as that on the Paton letters, were not accurate. However, the Sol Plaatje volume should be successful.

The report of the Chair is attached.

The report was accepted, with Dr Sandra Shell proposing and Dr Elizabeth van Heyningen seconding.

7. Election of Council for 2019-2022

Prof Phillips stated that the new Council would face a difficult situation and would need to present effective strategies.

New titles in the pipeline included the 2020 volume on Sol Plaatje, followed by the second volume of L’Vaillant, as well as F S Malan and Samuel Hudson’s journal.

Mr Paul Mills then read out the 16 nominations for the new Council. The Council was elected unopposed.

The list of nominees is attached.

8. Any other business

Dr Stephen Craven proposed a vote of thanks to Prof Phillips and the executive committee for their efforts in managing and guiding the society.

There being no other matters raised, the meeting closed at 18h20.