Dr Antonia Malan, historical archaeologist, Dr Helena Liebenberg, historical linguist, Tracey Randle, heritage consultant, Professor Johan Fourie, economic historian, Maureen Rall, transcriber and researcher 

The Tracing History Trust (THT) has been transcribing Dutch East India Company records, personal estate inventories and associated documents. This major project has revealed much about people and places of the early Cape. Archived VOC documents tell the stories of Angela of Bengalen, the royal princes Loring Passir and Diepa Nagera of Indonesia, Nicolaas Ondatje of Colombo and others. Household inventories and the subsequent sale of goods at auction offer insights into aspects of social status, identity and familial connections in Cape society of the mid-eighteenth century. This course, presented by members of the THT team and researchers who have used the material, will be of interest to genealogists as well as to those keen to learn more about the early Cape.



  1. Recreating the spatial history of the early Cape from archival clues Antonia Malan
  2. People of the early Cape: what VOC documents reveal Helena Liebenberg
  3. Household inventories of the eighteenth century Tracey Randle
  4. ‘A high plateau’: an economic history of the Dutch Cape Colony Johan Fourie
  5. A woman’s life: church records, inventories and a medical treatise Maureen Rall


Recommended reading

Cornell, C. and Malan, A. 2005. Household Inventories at the Cape: a guidebook for beginner researchers. Historical Studies Dept., UCT.

Fourie, J. 2013. ‘The remarkable wealth of the Dutch Cape Colony: measurements from eighteenth-century probate inventories.’ The Economic History Review, 66(2): 419-448.

Krzesinski-De Widt, A. 2002. Die boedelinventarisse van erflaters in die distrik Stellenbosch, 1679-1806. Stellenbosch Museum.

TANAP. Inventories of the Orphan Chamber of the Cape of Good Hope.

Malan, A. 1988. ‘Beneath the surface – behind the doors: historical archaeology of households in mid-18th century Cape Town’, Social Dynamics 24(1): 88-118.

Malan, A. 1997. The material world of family and household: the Van Sitterts in 18th century Cape Town, 1748-1796.’ In: Wadley, L. (ed.), Our Gendered Past: Archaeological Studies of Gender in Southern Africa. Wits University Press.

Malan, A. 2007. ‘The form and layout of early Cape Town households, 1660-1740.’ VASSA Journal 18: 34-63.

Malan, A. 2012. ‘The cultural landscape’. In: N. Worden (ed.), Cape Town - Between East and West: Social Identities in a Dutch Colonial Town. Cape Town: Jacana Media.

Liebenberg, H. 2018. Stories and Tales in the VOC Journals. Tracing History Trust.



Date: 20–24 January
Time: 9.15 am
COURSE FEES: Full R590 Staff & Students R295
Venue: LT3 Kramer Law Building