January 21, 2022

South Africa: DataFirst Rescues Historical Apartheid-Era Datasets

From the University of Cape Town:

Two valuable historical datasets have been rescued thanks to a partnership between the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) DataFirst research data service, the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) and Rhodes Library at Rhodes University (RU), UCT Libraries, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

The two datasets – the Keiskammahoek Rural Survey (KRS) and the Surplus People Project Survey (SPP) – were recently launched at Rhodes University. The rescue and launch of the surveys in late November form part of a national data rescue project initiated by DataFirst.

At the launch, DataFirst founding director Professor Emeritus Francis Wilson provided an account of the development of quantitative research capabilities in South Africa. He also recalled his introduction to KRS, saying that as a young boy he would assist his mother, Professor Monica Wilson, by measuring the water level with a ruler.

Founding head of NALSU and member of the DataFirst external advisory board Dr John Reynolds gave a brief overview of the SPP and KRS. UCT’s Lynn Woolfrey, manager of DataFirst, then provided further information on digitising the two datasets.


The rescue and collaboration underscored the importance of the original dataset as well as publishing data publicly.

The rescue of the datasets is but one recent milestone for UCT’s DataFirst. In November, DataFirst became Africa’s only internationally certified African repository after being awarded the CoreTrustSeal endorsement.

Learn More About the Rescued Datasets in the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.