Catalogue of the papers of Stephen Clingman relating to Bram Fischer, c.1908-c.1998

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Marion Lowman
2008

MSS. Afr. s. 2444

Department of Special Collections
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Table of Contents

Introduction
A   Fischer family papers c.1908-c.1976
B   Legal and political papers 1935-1966, c.1990s
C   Bram's arrest, trial, imprisonment and death 1964-1985


Catalogue of the papers of Stephen Clingman relating to Bram Fischer, c.1908-c.1998

c.1908-c.1998

Abstract:
Papers of Stephen Clingman relating to Bram Fischer, South African lawyer and anti-apartheid activist. The papers were collected by Clingman when writing his biography, Bram Fischer: Afrikaner Revolutionary (published 1998).

Extent: 4 Linear metres, 25 boxes
Language(s) of Material: English, Includes some material in Afrikaans.

Biographical history

Stephen Clingman was born in South Africa and studied at the University of the Witwatersrand and at Oxford University. In 1989 he joined the teaching staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Clingman's biography, Bram Fischer: Afrikaner Revolutionary, was published in 1998 (Cape Town: David Philip; Bellville: Mayibuye; Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press). It won the 1999 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, South Africa's premier prize for non-fiction.

Abram (Bram) Fischer (1908-1975) was born in South Africa into a prominent Afrikaner nationalist family. He was called to the Johannesburg bar in 1935 and was appointed King’s Counsel in 1951. A distinguished lawyer, Fischer was involved in many political trials; he worked on the defence team in the Treason Trial (1957-1961) and led the defence team at the Rivonia Trial (1963-1964).

Shortly after the Rivonia Trial ended, Fischer was arrested for being a member of the illegal Communist Party. He was granted bail and permitted to go to London to argue a case before the Privy Council. He returned to South Africa to stand trial in November 1964 but one day absconded to continue his political activities underground.

In November 1965 Fischer was disbarred by the General Bar Council of South Africa and struck off the Roll of Advocates. He was captured the same month and tried on the more serious charge of conspiracy to commit sabotage as well as being a member of the Communist Party. In May 1966 he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1974 Fischer was diagnosed with cancer. In April 1975, following a public campaign appealing for his release, the government placed Fischer under house arrest at his brother's home in Bloemfontein. He died there the following month. Because Fischer had died a prisoner, the authorities demanded that his ashes were returned to them after the funeral.

In October 2003 Fischer was posthumously reinstated to the Roll of Advocates by a full bench of South Africa's high court.

Fischer married Susanna Johanna (Molly) Krige (1908-1964) in 1937. They had three children.

Scope and Content

The collection comprises papers relating to the Fischer family (boxes 1-19), papers relating to legal and political cases in which Bram Fischer was involved (boxes 20-21) and papers relating to Bram Fischer's trial, illness and death (boxes 22-25).

Note: The papers are mainly photocopies of correspondence and newspaper cuttings.

Arrangement

The original arrangement and description of the papers has been retained where possible.

Restrictions on Access

Some material is restricted. Whole boxes and files which are restricted are indicated in the catalogue.

Restrictions on Use

No reproduction or publication without permission. Contact the Library in the first instance.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 2444, Box 1, fols. 1-2].

Bibliographical References

Clingman, Stephen. Bram Fischer: Afrikaner Revolutionary. Cape Town: David Philip; Bellville: Mayibuye; Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998.

Personal name(s) (NCA Rules)

Clingman | Stephen | fl 1998 | author and academic
Fischer | Abram |1908-1975 | known as Bram Fischer | South African lawyer and anti-apartheid activist

Place name(s) (NCA Rules)

South Africa

Subject(s)

Apartheid
Communism
Communists
Lawyers
Political activists
Political prisoners
South Africa -- Politics and government -- 20th century

A   Fischer family papers c.1908-c.1976

Personal name(s) (NCA Rules)
Fischer | Susanna Johanna | 1908-1964 | née Krige | known as Molly Fischer | South African teacher and anti-apartheid activist

Letters from Bram to Molly
Date: 1930-1934
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 426 leaves

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Bram to Molly
Date: 1935-1936
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 436 leaves

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Bram to Molly
Date: 1937-1962
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 483 leaves

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Bram to his parents
Date: 1916-1931
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 4
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 306 leaves

Letters from Bram to his parents, with some letters from his brother
Date: 1932-1934
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 435 leaves

Letters from Bram to his parents. with some letters from his brother
Date: 1935-1938
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 6
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 409 leaves

Letters from Bram to his parents
Date: 1939-1948
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 7
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 396 leaves

Letters from Bram to his parents
Date: 1949-1960
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 311 leaves

Letters from Bram and Molly to their children
Date: 1954-1972
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 9
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 246 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises:

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Molly to Bram
Date: 1930-1933
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 502 leaves

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Molly to Bram
Date: 1935-1936
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 11
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 531 leaves

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Molly to Bram
Date: 1937-1962
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 12
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 329 leaves

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Letters from Molly to Bram's parents
Date: 1936-1942
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 13
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 424 leaves

Letters from Molly to Bram's parents
Date: 1943-1950
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 14
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 465 leaves

Letters from Molly to Bram's parents
Date: 1951-1960
Shelfmark: Mss. Afr. s. 2444 / 15
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 400 leaves

Letters from Mrs. Fischer (Bram's mother) to Bram
Date: c.1920-1932
Shelfmark: Mss. Afr. s. 2444 / 16
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 298 leaves

Letters from Mrs. Fischer (Bram's mother) to Bram
Date: 1933-1963
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 17
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 240 leaves

Miscellaneous correspondence
Date: c.1908-c.1976
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 18
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 310 leaves

Scope and Content

Includes:

Restrictions on Access

Closed


Documents
Date: 1913-c.1973
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 19
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 367 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises:

(fols. 1-53) papers relating to Bram as a student in South Africa (1920-1929). Includes:

(fols. 54-73) papers relating to Bram as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University (1930-1934). Includes:

(fols. 74-93) papers relating to births and deaths (1913-1971). Includes:

(fols. 94-261) papers relating to the engagement and wedding of Bram and Molly (1936-1937)

(fols. 262-367) Miscellaneous documents (c.1913-c.1973). Includes:

B   Legal and political papers 1935-1966, c.1990s

Legal and political papers
Date: 1936-1962, c.1990s
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 20
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 246 leaves

Scope and Content

Mainly newspaper cuttings. Includes papers relating to the:

Legal and political papers
Date: 1935-1966, c.1990s
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 21
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 285 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises papers relating to:

(fols. 1-157) the Rivonia Trial (1963-1966). Includes newspaper cuttings and typescripts entitled:

(fols. 158-285) miscellaneous legal and political papers. Includes:

C   Bram's arrest, trial, imprisonment and death 1964-1985

Papers relating to Bram's arrest, trial, imprisonment and death
Date: 1965-1975
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 22
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 489 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises:

Papers relating to Bram's arrest, trial, imprisonment and death
Date: 1964-1985
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 23
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 362 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises:

(fols. 1-44) memorial material and tributes to Bram (1975-1976)

(fols. 45-202) papers collected by Mary Benson relating to Bram (1964-1975). Includes:

(fols. 203-362) miscellaneous correspondence and documents (1964-1985). Includes sketches of Lewis Baker, Norman Levy, Costa Gazidis, Paul Trewelha, Eli Weinberg and Ivan Schermbrucker who were charged with Bram under the Suppression of Communism Act

Personal name(s) (NCA Rules)
Benson | Mary | 1919-2000 | South African writer and anti-apartheid activist

Newspaper cuttings
Date: 1964-1966
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 24
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 257 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises cuttings relating to:

Newspaper cuttings
Date: 1966-1975
Shelfmark: MSS. Afr. s. 2444 / 25
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 210 leaves

Scope and Content

Comprises cuttings relating to:


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