Thursday, January 28, 2010

NAAIRS and South African research

Continuing on the topic of NAAIRS, note that the original documents cannot be viewed online. NAAIRS is an index for identifying and locating archival material. If your searches turn up relevant references, and you live at a distance from the repository holding the required file, you’ll need local assistance. Archives staff cannot undertake in-depth research, though may carry out specific searches e.g. a Death Notice. Hiring a professional researcher to access the file for you and either transcribe or take digital photos (where allowed) to be sent to you by email is often the best option.

Regrettably, the Western Cape Archives and Record Service, previously known as Cape Archives, in 2007 banned the use of cameras and other imaging devices. Instead, their own reprographic service is offered. Digital copies can be supplied through this service but are available only as prints, not in e-format. Despite a strong wave of protest in the SA genealogical community, so far the controversial ruling has not been rescinded, though there has been a blurring of the edges in that certain professional researchers now have a mandate to use their own digital cameras in the Reading Room.

Contact details of SA professional researchers in each province are available on the NARS site at

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