99th AGM and launch of our 2018 volumes


The first AGM under our new name, HiPSA (formerly the VRS), was held on 31 January 2019 at the elegant Ravenswood House in central Cape Town, a venue generously made available to us by the owner, a stalwart member of our society, Patrick Esnouf, to whom we are most grateful.

In keeping with the landmark nature of this event, it was followed by the launch of two volumes, both published in our centenary year, 2018. Never before in its 100-year history has the society produced two volumes in the same year. The reason why it did this in 2018 was so that we could publish our 100th volume in the year that we turned 100.

In the absence of the editor of the first 2018 volume, Hendrik Swellengrebel in Afrika: Journalen van Drie Reizen in 1776-1777, Dr Gerrit Schutte (who unfortunately could not join us from his home in the Netherlands), a member of our Council with a special interest in the late 18th Century Cape, Dr Susie Newton-King, launched the book. In doing so, she drew particular attention to how much light it shed on the economy and ethnography of the rural Cape in the 1770s. It would be, she explained, a boon to anyone trying to get down to the grassroots level of the colony’s economy after 120 years of Dutch rule.

The second launch on the momentous evening saw our chair, Professor Howard Phillips, spell out how he had come to collect verbatim memories of 127 South African survivors of the great ‘Spanish’ flu epidemic of 1918, which comprised the contents of our 100th volume, In a Time of Plague: Memories of the ‘Spanish’ Flu Epidemic of 1918 in South Africa. His reading of some of these poignant recollections by a wide array of South Africans underscored the magnitude of the catastrophe which had enveloped the country and the world during ‘Black October 1918’. Nowhere was this tragedy better captured than in the haunting contemporary isiZulu song ‘Influenza’, of which he played a recording made by the choir for which it had been written in 1919. As he put it, here was a striking example of memory in melody.

Given that In a Time of Plague was published in the centenary year of ‘Black October’, he also launched it on two other occasions around this time, viz. at UCT Summer School during a 5-lecture course on the ‘Spanish’ flu in January 2019, and at the opening of an exhibition on the epidemic at the Montagu Museum. Later in the year he also spoke about the volume in lectures to the Hermanus History Society and to the Kalk Bay Historical Association.


Public lectures


The two editors and translator of our 2017 annual volume, Selections from the Letters of President M. T. Steyn, 1904-1910, Elizabeth van Heyningen, Con de Wet and Chris van der Merwe, addressed an appreciative audience on 1 March at the Stellenbosch Woordfees. The moderator was Prof Fransjohan Pretorius.

On 23 May Chris van der Merwe delivered a talk on the same publication at a meeting of the vigorously active Swellendam Heritage Association.


VRS 100 Fund


Donations from members and well-wishers to our Centenary Fund have reached R565 000 to date, still somewhat short of our target figure of R600 000. If you missed the opportunity to mark our centenary last year by making a donation, PLEASE consider making that donation now.  Contributions of any amount will be highly appreciated, and donations will be acknowledged on our website.


Postal delivery problems


We deeply regret that quite a few members did not receive one or both of their 2018 volumes, mainly because of problems with the postal service. Gauteng in particular seems to be a problem area where inefficient delivery is common. To avoid a recurrence of this frustrating situation, members there (and indeed elsewhere) may wish to consider having the 2019 volume sent via PostNet or even by courier. Unfortunately, members choosing this option will have to bear the cost (R110 in the case of PostNet and R135 for courier dispatch) themselves. Please indicate by 31 July 2019 whether you wish to use this more assured means of delivery and send us the appropriate amount.


It has also been suggested that members resident in Cape Town might wish to collect their 2019 volume from our office or from another convenient place in the Peninsula at no extra cost.

Our office is at the Centre for the Book, 62 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town (opposite the Company Gardens) and is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10h00 to 13h00. The office phone number is 021 423-8424 (you can leave a message) and the office email address is: office@hipsa.org.za


If that is an arrangement which will suit you, please let us know by 31 July. You will then be informed as soon as your volume is ready for collection.


Office hours


As noted in our last newsletter, much of our administrative and financial work has moved online and is being carried out from home, and so the necessity for staffing the office every other day of the week has decreased. Therefore, from 1 January 2019 the office opened only on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10h00 to 13h00 as an experiment. These new reduced hours did not give rise to any complaints and have not affected the efficient working of our office and so they will henceforth be our new office hours.  Of course, members may still contact us telephonically at any time and leave a message or send us an e-mail.

For very urgent matters out of office hours please contact Rolf Proske on 071 077 1672.


Second-hand volumes for sale


The following people can be contacted with regard to second-hand HiPSA volumes for sale:



Name Contact information Volumes for sale Other information
Roger Goodwin roger.joy@mweb.co.za

083 230 3869

021 789 0194

I:26,30,34,48,49 and Series II complete set; reprints; 3 Van Riebeeck Journals; The Van Riebeeck Society 1918-1978 (Bradlow)
Jackie Leach jackie.leach62@gmail.com

082 4576266

I:3-14, 16-19, 21-50 and

II:1-44 (including many duplicates)

Members in Pretoria area may like to collect
Catherine Price cath@lovemyhair.co.za

073 3724578

I:39,43 and II:1-41
Hendrik Steyn flinkskink@gmail.com

082 9569454

I:7 To swap for I:2 or other
George Wheatley gwwheatley@yahoo.com I:22-48, excluding I-24 and I-38 (covers water stained, pages good) Looking for a good home. Shipping from UK to be paid by receiver
Donna Wheeler dwy-wheeler@mweb.co.za


I:44; II:2,18,19,22,30,39,

43,47,48 and more


We also have several second-hand volumes available for sale in the office. Our website (currently undergoing revision) provides details at: http://www.vanriebeecksociety.co.za/SecondHandpage_1.htm


Archives Week


From 15-19 July, the Western Cape Archives and Records Centre, 72 Roeland Street, Cape Town, will be offering behind-the-scenes tours of the oldest state archives in South Africa every day between 09h00 and 14h00. Members are welcome to join any one of these guided tours during which they will be given an eye-opening insight into what goes on behind the building’s green doors. Telephone Amy Mostert (021 483 0456 or 021 483 0400) or e-mail Amy.VanWezel@westerncape.gov.za for more information.


In Memoriam


We regret to announce the deaths of the following members:

Mnr R Andrag, Mr T H Gamble, Mr B Leach, Mr J Plummer, Prof S Ridge, Mnr O van Oordt, Mr A J van Ryneveld, Mr T Wheeler.


New members


We are delighted to welcome the following as new members:

Mev S J Boshoff (Hermanus), Bayworld museum (Port Elizabeth), Mr W E Buhrman (Stellenbosch), Mnr F de Bruyn (Pretoria), Mr D Hilton-Barber (Hermanus), Mr & Mrs M Janish (Cape Town),

Ms M Kahle (Cape Town), Mr P Lenahan (Pretoria), Dr M Mbali (Cape Town), Mr C Muller (Durban), Dr J Murray (Cape Town), Ms A Naude (Robertson), Mr N Naylor (Gauteng),

Mr T Nolutshungu (Cape Town), Mrs C Page (Montagu), Mev C Swellengrebel (Somerset West), Mev E van der Horst (Cape Town), Mr J van Niekerk (Gauteng).


We appeal to existing members to help grow the Society by encouraging friends, children or grandchildren to join. Or give them a year’s membership as a gift which they will surely turn into permanent membership themselves once they see what HiPSA offers.


2019 AGM and launch of 2019 volume


Our 100th AGM should be held towards the end of this year when our 2019 volume, Indoda Ebisithanda (‘The Man who Loved Us’): The Reverend James Laing among the amaXhosa 1831-1836, edited by Dr Sandy Shell, will be launched. At this AGM a new Council will be elected; a call for nominations and details about the occasion will follow in our next newsletter.