THE Sunday Times Heritage Project provides an important platform for popularising the use of web-based archival resources, and the South African History Archive (SAHA) is grateful for the opportunity to locate and make available a range of archival records for users of this site.
Archival records can never provide a full account of the past and are best interpreted as fragments of that past that help us to interpret what has transpired. They are a roadmap to greater knowledge and insight.
What we remember and how we remember it is greatly influenced by what records are preserved, how accessible they are and how they are presented. This is commonly influenced by power relations in society. A past characterised by inequality and repression does not, without proactive intervention, lend to a balanced archival representation of that past.
South Africa’s transition has provided an unprecedented opportunity to reassess what records we have and how they are used, an opportunity to reconceptualise and to "refigure" the archive - in other words, we now have a space to look anew at how aspects of our history have been represented or not, as the case may be.
Part of this ongoing refiguration relates to how accessible an archive is. SAHA believes that the Sunday Times Heritage Project provides important opportunities to develop access to archival resources that are not widely available through the Internet. SAHA believes this is an important part of making the archive accessible beyond a traditional user base of researchers and academics, to an increasing number of South Africans who are now becoming part of the digital age.