cape-almanacAre you looking for anyone living in Cape Town between 1813 and 1870? An almanac is here taken to be a book containing a full calendar as well as information on social, economic, and similar topics. It becomes a directory if it contains a list of people’s names and addresses, and in its most comprehensive form, it becomes a yearbook. The old almanacs and their successors are of great value in research into social, economic, and cultural history, because they often contain data not easily found elsewhere. A complete survey of those published in South Africa cannot possibly be given, and only those preserved in public libraries will be dealt with here.

Search through our 84,000 inhabitants of the Cape Almanacs and yearbooks here.

The earliest South African almanacs appeared at the Cape in 1795-1797 and were printed by J. C. Ritter. A fragment of his Almanach for 1796 is the oldest piece of South African printing that has come down to us. Cape Town was the main centre for the publication of almanacs all through the 19th century. The most important issues, or series of issues, were the following:

1801-27 (1801 is preserved only in manuscript, and 1803 is missing. Known as The African Court Calendar (De Afrikaansche Staatsalmanak), this publication was published ‘under Government approval’ and consisted principally of an account of the Colony’s government as well as the civil list, the army list and the calendar itself, which was bilingual. The 1807 issue gives a summary of the history of the Cape Colony and has a supplement, African theatricals. From 1815 onward each issue includes Governor W. A. van der Stel’s century-old gardening calendar, and from 1810 a list of the principal inhabitants of the Cape. 1828-35. The South African Almanack and Directory, issued by the well-known publisher and printer George Greig. This was a private undertaking, as were all the succeeding almanacs.

From 1830 it was considerably enlarged and contained advertisements, articles, and a ground plan of Cape Town. From 1832 it included lithographs by H.C. de Meillon of important Cape buildings. 1836-50. Continuation of the previous almanac by B. J. van de Sandt. The name varies, but from 1841 is The Cape of Good Hope Almanack and Annual Register. In 1843 it contains an etching of Table Mountain and an account of the fight of Comdt. J. I. Rademeyer near Trompetter’s Drift in the Frontier War of 1835. The issues for 1845 and 1846 are, typographically and otherwise, editions de luxe, for example in the advertisements, which give a good picture of the times. 1852-62. Continuation of the preceding by Van de Sandt’s foster-son, B. J. van de Sandt de Villiers. The almanac has now a smaller and handier format. Attention is given to new parts of South Africa : Natal, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal, to the explorations of Livingstone and others, and to local events and politics. The almanac for 1853 contains lists of edible fishes, and that for 1855 lists of indigenous trees by C. W. L. Pappe. 1863. Continuation of the preceding by a new proprietor, John Noble. There was no issue in 1864. 1865-67. Continuation by C. Goode under the title of The Cape Town Directory. There are interesting articles on the history of the Cape Colony by A. Wilmot. 1868-97. The almanac was taken over by Saul Solomon & Co., at first under the title (sometimes slightly changed) of The General Directory and Guide Book to the Cape of Good Hope and its Dependencies. In 1888 this became the Argus Annual and Cape of Good Hope Directory, from 1889 to 1894 The Argus Annual and South African Directory, and from 1895 to 1897 The Argus Annual and South African Gazetteer.

South African Almanacs and Year Books

The Almanac had now become a statistical year-book and directory; it is comprehensive and instructive and crammed with information about the whole of South Africa. Other important publications were the following: 1819: The Cape of Good Hope Calendar and Agriculturists’ Guide, by Geo. Ross, published for the British Settlers of 1820. 1826: The Cape of Good Hope Almanack, by W. Bridekirk, contains a chronological list of events at the Cape in 1824-25. 1832-54 (probably with interruptions): De Kaapsche Almanak en Naamboek, by Joseph Suasso de Lima. 1840: De Zuid-Afrikaansche Blygeestige Almanak en Naamlyst, by J. J. de Kock (Cape Town), a remarkable literary almanac. 1850-1926: Almanak voor de Ned. Geref. Kerk van (since 1885: in) Zuid-Afrika. With alterations to its title from time to time, the well-known ‘Kerkalmanak’ has appeared regularly up to the present day. Its founder and compiler – until his death in 1882 – was Dr. Philip Faure. Immediately afterward the Cape Synod accepted responsibility for the work, which was since then undertaken by the church administration of the N.G. Kerk. After 1926 the title appears in Afrikaans as hereafter. 1927-29: Almanak vir die Nederduits(-)Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika. In 1927 the Almanak was taken over by the Raad van Kerke (Council of Churches) with the archivist of the N.G. Kerk, the Rev. A. Dreyer, is mainly responsible for its compilation. He remained the central figure in the evolution of this work until his death in 1938. He changed its title. 1930-43: Jaarboek van die Ned. Geref. Kerke in SuidAfrika.

almanac-02In 1940 the work was entrusted to the Church archivist, Dr. J. A. S. Oberholster. He continued it until 1950, with a slight change in the title as hereafter. 1944-62: Jaarboek van die Gefedereerde Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerke. From 1950 until his death in 1964 the Rev. J. Norval Geldenhuys was the chief compiler. 1963- : Jaarboek van die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerke (Mother, Mission and Bantu churches). Under its new title, this work remains an indispensable source of information regarding ecclesiastical and related matters and is by far the oldest South African work of reference in this field. 1870 until today : Almanak voor de Geref. Kerk in Zuid-Afrika. The title later appears in Afrikaans. 1907 until today: Almanak voor de Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk in Zuid-Afrika (later: Afrika). From 1930 in Afrikaans, it developed greatly under Prof S. P. Engelbrecht. 1866-1908: The S.A. Agriculturists’ Almanac, by J. H. F. von Wurzburg-Schade (Wynberg). 1877-1918 with some interruptions: Die Afrikaanse Almanak, burgerlik en kerkelik ,by the Rev. S. J. du Toit and others (Paarl). One of the principal publications of the First Afrikaans Language Movement. 1887: Deutscher Volkskalender , published by Hermann Michaelis at Cape Town. Continued 1912-14 as (Illustrierter) Sud-Afrikanischer Volkskalender in Johannesburg. A rich source of knowledge about the German community and literature in South Africa. 1875: Descriptive Handbook of the Cape Colony: its condition and resources, by J. Noble. 1886: Official Handbook: History, productions, and resources of the Cape of Good Hope, by J. Noble. 1893 and 1896: Illustrated Official Handbook of the Cape and South Africa, by J. Noble. 1848-72: Eastern Province Annual Directory and Almanac, continued as Eastern Province Year-book and Commercial Directory, Grahamstown, 1872-78 (?). 1872-1874-8; 1883-90; 1892-93: Port Elizabeth Directory and Guide to the Eastern Province, Port Elizabeth. 1896-1910: P.E. Year-book and Directory, Port Elizabeth. 1888-89 et sqq.: The General Directory of South Africa, etc. by Dennis Edwards. This gradually supplanted the Argus Annual (see above). From 1909/10 it bore the title United South Africa.

Outside the Cape may be mentioned:1863-?: The Natal Almanac, Directory and Yearly Register, P. Davis & Sons (Pietermaritzburg). A comprehensive and compendious almanac, which continued at least into the 1920s. 1876: De Oranjevrijstaatsdshe Almanak (Bloemfontein). A kind of almanac of public affairs, which two years later became: 1878- 1939(?): De Boerenvriend Huisalmanak (Bloemfontein). Its title was afterward preceded by the word ‘Express’; it was eventually published in Afrikaans. Carl Borckenhagen was the principal figure in its production. 1904-32 (or after): De Boerenvriend (afterwards Die Boerevriend) Huisalmanak (Bloemfontein). An imitation of the above-mentioned almanac, which in consequence added the word Express to its title. 1893-94: Vijstaatsch Jaarboek en Almanak – Free State Annual and Trades Directory, Bloemfontein. 1892-99: Staats-Almanak der (later: voor de ) Zuid Afrihaansche Republiek. This was an official publication, a complete and dependable annual review of the government institutions of the Transvaal, with a historical calendar. 1877-98(?) with interruptions: Jeppe’s Transvaal Almanac and Directory. Compiled by the well-known F. H. Jeppe, cartographer, and publisher. 1893 et sqq.: De Kaap Annual (Transvaal), printed at Barberton. Towards the end of the 19th cent. the transition from almanacs to directories is much clearer, as appears from the following list: 1891; 1893-97: Natal Directory, later Braby’s Natal Directory. 1893: 1897-98: The Dennis Edwards Cape Town Directory 1894; 1896: Longland’s Johannesburg and Districts Directory 1897: Juta’s Directory of Cape Town 1898: Juta’s Directory of Cape Town and Suburbs 1899-1927: Juta’s Directory of Cape Town, Suburbs and Simonstown. There are further changes of title to Cape Peninsula, etc. 1899: The Dennis Edwards S.A. Year-book and Directory of Cape Town. This year-book appeared until 2932. 1899: Longland’s Transvaal and Rhodesian Directory 1900-03; 1906-0: Kimberley Year-book and Directory, by Mark Henderson. 1900; 1904-05: Donaldson and Hill’s Eastern Province ( Cape Colony ) Directory 1901: Complete Guide to Cradock – professional and trade directory, compiled by W. Taylor and published by Thomas Scanes, Cradock. 1901/2; 1905/06;1908/09; 1909/10 et sqq.: Guide to South Africa for the use of tourists, sportsmen, invalids, and settlers. This continued until at least 1949, with a change of title to Guide to South and East Africa, etc. 1901; 1902-04: Longland’s Cape Town and District.

Owing to the growth of communal life year-books and directories became dominant in the 20th century as information and reference books concerning social, political, and commercial conditions. The contents are usually sufficiently indicated by the titles. Among the most important should be mentioned: 1902/03; 1903/04: The South African Year Book, by S. M. Gluckstein (London and Cape Town). 1905-10: Het Z.A. Jaarboek en Algemene Gids, by G. R. Hofmeyr and C. G. Murray (Cape Town), (later B. J. van de Sandt de Villiers), the first complete general South African year-book in Nederlands. 1910 until today: Official South African Municipal Year Book. An indispensable source of information about cities and towns. 1911-12: The South African Almanack and Reference Book, by E. Glanville, Cape Town . Excellent summaries of a diversified nature. 1914 et sqq. (?):

The South African Year Book, by H. W. Hosking, London 1914 et sqq.: Laite’s Commercial Blue Book for South Africa. A good and popular work in its field. Along with the General Directory of South Africa of Dennis Edwards, it belongs to the stream of bulky South African directories published during the present century, among which those of Donaldson and Hill (afterward Ken Donaldson and Co., or Donaldson and Braby, or Braby, etc.) are particularly important. They are indispensable sources of social and commercial information. Mention must also be made of: 1898 et sqq.: The Transvaal and Rhodesia Directory 1901 et sqq.: The Natal Directory 1902 et sqq.: The Orange River Colony Directory 1902/03 et sqq.: The Western Province (Cape Colony) Directory 1907 et sqq.: The United Transvaal Directory 1912/13 et sqq.: Cape Province Directory. In due course titles change (e.g. Colony becomes Province), as do regional divisions. So there are now Cape Times Directory of Southern Africa (1964, 31 st edition), Directory of Southern Africa and Buyers’ Guide (1964, 31 st edition ), Braby’s Commercial Directory of South, East, and Central Africa (1964, 40th edition), to which may be added the special Braby’s Directories for Natal, Transvaal, the O.F.S. and the Cape, and many city directories. Since 1907 Donaldson produced an annual South African Who’s Who, with photographs; the title for a time included the words Social, Business, and Farming. Since 1961 Who’s Who of Southern Africa, under this new title, has been published by Wootton & Gibson, Johannesburg. It is an indispensable work of reference for people.

The following English works of this Directory nature, with photographs, may also be mentioned: 1905, 1907, 1909: Anglo-African Who’s Who and Biographical Sketch Book with photos in 1909, by W. H. Wills (London). 1905: Men of the Times: Pioneers of the Transvaal and glimpses of South Africa, Transvaal Publishing Company, Johannesburg 1906: Men of the Times: Old Colonists of the Cape Colony and Orange River Colony, Transvaal Publishing Company, Johannesburg. A particularly valuable work, with excellent pictures. 1910: Souvenir of the Union of South Africa, Cape Town. People of political importance in the Union and the four provinces. 1913 : Women of South Africa, Cape Town, by C. I. Lewis. 1926: Sports and Sportsmen in South Africa, Cape Town 1929: Sports and Sportsmen in South Africa and Rhodesia, Cape Town 1933-34: The Arts in South Africa, W. H. Knox. Knox Printing and Publishing Co., Durban. Photos of artists are included. 1938: The South African Woman’s Who’s Who, Biographies Ltd., Johannesburg 1958/9 and 1959/60: Who’s Who in Entertainment and Sport in South Africa, by Don Barrigo, Johannesburg Smaller, sporadic publications were The Natal Who’s Who, 1906. Who is Who – Wie is Wie in Pretoria, 1951. In Afrikaans, there are no regular publications of this nature.

whoswho_1929The following sporadic publications may, however, be mentioned:1930: Die Nasionale Boek, compiled by I. M. Goodman, Johannesburg, and dealing with the history, leaders, and members of the National Party. 1942: Die Afrikaner Personeregister, Johannesburg, compiled by N. Diederichs and others. 1953: Die Triomf van Nasionalisme in Suid-Afrika (1910-53), compiled by D. P. Goosen and others. A commemorative album of the National Party. 1955: Die Afrikanerfamilienaamboek en Personalia, Cape Town, by J. J. Redelinghuis. 1958 et sqq. (irregularly): Wie is Wie in Suid-Afrika, Johannesburg, compiled by D. F. Kruger. Bilingual. There are also, mainly in English, numerous national, provincial, and municipal handbooks and guide-books, generally well illustrated. Only a few can be mentioned here. From the S.A. Railways we have Natal, 1903; Cape Colony today, by A. R. E. Burton, 190 et sqq.; Natal Province, 1911; Travel in South Africa, 1921 et sqq. The Cape Town City Council came out with a series of handbooks: The Cape of Good Hope, 1909 et sqq., and the Pretoria City Council (with the Railways) with The City of Pretoria and Districts, 1913. An excellent handbook dealing with economic and social matters, Die Afrikanergids (1942-1944/5) by J. J. Haywood, was specifically intended for the Afrikaner.

Particularly important is the Government’s Official Year Book of the Union of South Africa -Offisiele jaarboek van die Unie van Suid-Afrika, 1910-60, though it did not actually appear every year. In 1964 it was supplemented by a Statistical Year Book – Statistiese Jaarboek. Since 1957 there has also appeared an unofficial year-book State of the Union, in 1962 renamed State of South Africa. There are also the calendars of the various universities. Another important private publication is the Year Book and Guide to Southern Africa, compiled by the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company since 1893, of which the 67th edition appeared in 1967. It was divided into two volumes in 1950, since when the Year Book and Guide to East Africa has been appearing separately each year. Both were edited by A. Gordon-Brown until 1967. Another type of annual, of a literary nature, is represented by the many Christmas and New Year annuals appearing from time to time. Mention may be made, for example, of the Cape Times Christmas Number, 1899-1905, and Cape Times Annual, 1910-41; Ons Land Kerstmisnummer, 1906-29; Die Burger Nuwejaarsnommer (at first Kerstmis Nummer), 1915-25; Suid-Afrika, 1938/39-40/41; the British S.A. Annual, 1915/16 et sqq.; the South African Annual , 1906 et sqq.; De (afterwards Die) Koningsbode Kerstnummer (afterwards Kersnommer), 1914 up to the present, etc. At the year’s end, popular magazines such as Die Huisgenoot and Sarie Marais regularly issue bulky Christmas or holiday numbers. Today there are also year-books for almost every industry in South Africa – for farming, mining, engineering, fisheries, textiles, footwear, finance, the hotel industry, medical services, etc.