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.
Mainly correspondence between Benson and fellow South African activists and large amounts of newspaper cuttings collected by Benson relating to South Africa and the struggle against Apartheid.
Records related to the Rivonia Trial: -Nelson Mandela’s statement from the dock at the Rivonia Trial (ICS6/5/3) -Elias Motsoaledi's statement (ICS6/5/7) - Correspondence, reports and statements about the treatment of political prisoners in South Africa, including reports by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and Amnesty International - Papers related to Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, collected by Benson when writing her biography of Mandela, "Nelson Mandela: the Man and the Movement." - Correspondence between Mandela and Mary Benson. There is also correspondence between Benson and others, mainly related to Mandela and campaigns for his release from prison. Correspondents include Helen Suzman, Elinor Birley, Hilda Bernstein, Oliver Tambo, Winnie Mandela, Denis Healey and Ismail Ayob. - Typed notes on Mandela and other prisoner -News clippings concerning Mandela, mainly from British newspapers. Subjects covered in particular detail include the Rivonia Trial and campaigns for Mandela's release (ICS6/8)
Photocopies of papers collected by Joel Joffe, lawyer acting for Nelson Mandela, relating to Mandela's trial in Pretoria (1962) and the Rivonia Trial (1963-1964); including Mandela's application to have the Pretoria trial postponed, October 1962; Mandela's address to the court in mitigation of the sentence of five years imprisonment, detailing his political commitment and activities in the African National Congress (ANC), November 1962; copy of the indictment in the Rivonia Trial, initial statement made by Mandela to his lawyers, giving details of his early life; notes by Mandela on his life and ANC association; copy of Mandela's statement from the dock, signed by Mandela, manuscript notes by Mandela to use if he were sentenced to death, and manuscript notes by Mandela referring to the tribal council called Imbizo.