The collection includes personal material of First and her immediate family such as correspondence and financial records, papers relating to First's work as a journalist in South Africa, as a university lecturer, an anti-apartheid activist, and as an author and editor of numerous books and articles on Africa and other political topics. Also included are research papers and printed material relating to First and her family, collected both during her lifetime and after her death.
Material related to the Rivonia Trial:
-Background material, correspondence and reviews concerning "No Easy Walk to Freedom," edited by Ruth First. Includes printed copies of Nelson Mandela’s speech at the Rivonia Trial, drafts of sections of the book, and a typescript of Mary Benson’s statement before the UN Special Committee on Apartheid in 1964, with handwritten alterations. Also includes correspondence, mainly between Ruth First and Heinemann Publishers, as well as clippings of newspaper reviews (RF/1/6/2)
-ANC publications includes introductory pamphlets on the ANC and the Rivonia trial, copies of magazines: Sechaba and Mayibuye.(RF/1/17/2/3)
-Materials on political detentions between 1963 and 1970, including a copy of the 1963 Detention Act, a radio script by Mary Benson entitled "Nelson Mandela and the Rivonia Trial," and notes produced by First (RF/1/18/2)
- Transcripts of interviews with Robben Island political prisoners (RF/1/18/1).
-Newspaper cuttings from both British and South African newspapers, mainly covering issues relating to politics in South Africa including the Rivonia Trial (RF/1/19)
-Correspondence (Feb 1964-Aug 1965) covering subjects such as the Rivonia Trial and First's exile to Britain. Correspondents include Govan Mbeki, Molly Bernstein and Julius Lewin (RF/2/1/2).
The collection is on indefinite loan to the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and remains the property of the Ruth First Memorial Trust.