Collection 629 - Ruth First Papers

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Ruth First Papers


  • 1925-1982 (Creation)

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approx. 450 items

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Academic, journalist and anti-apartheid and women’s rights activist. Married Joe Slovo, 1949. Met Mandela while attending the University of the Witwatersrand. Arrested, charged and then acquitted in the Treason Trial. Fled to Swaziland with her children during the 1960 State of Emergency. Detained in solitary confinement for ninety days in 1963 and fled to the UK on her release. Lived in exile in Mozambique from 1977 and was killed by a parcel bomb there on 17 August 1982.

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The personal papers of Ruth First
The collection is made up of background material, correspondence and reviews concerning "No Easy Walk to Freedom" edited by Ruth First. 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. Correspondence, mainly between Ruth First and Heinemann Publishers, as well as clippings of newspaper reviews.
Material on political detention 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 Ruth First. Press releases and conference papers concerning the Symposium on the exploitation of Blacks in South Africa and Namibia, organized by the United Nations in 1978, with observances of the 60th birthday of Nelson Mandela.
Transcripts of interviews with Robben Island political prisoners. Correspondence from friends and acquaintances, and materials from South African newspapers concerning the Rivonia Trial.

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