History Department


Retired Judge from London visits Museum

12 January 2017

Nick Stadlen (middle), retired judge from London and research fellow at Oxford University, visited the Museum while doing research for his book on struggle court cases.  Dr Hannes Haasbroek (right) and Derek du Bruyn provided information on Bram Fischer.  Hannes wrote a book on Fischer ’n Seun soos Bram, published in 2010.

Marianna Botes receives prize for best doctoral thesis (History) in Afrikaans

30 October 2015

The Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns introduced a prize to encourage post-graduate students in History to produce theses in Afrikaans and to reward high quality work.  The prize is known as the Protea Boekhuisprys and is sponsored by this publisher.  Dr Marianna Botes, Cultural Historian at the Museum, was the first recipient of this prestigious prize for her PhD thesis:Bloemfontein gedurende die bewind van president F.W. Reitz, 1889-1895: ʼn kultuurhistoriese studie.  

In the photo from left: Prof. Wessel Pienaar, Chairperson of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, Dr Marianna Botes and Dr Nicol Stassen, owner and managing director of Protea Boekhuis publishers.

Marianna started her career at the Free State Museum Services in 1982 and since 1987 has been a researcher and cultural historian in the Department of History at the National Museum.  She is the co-author of two books about the architecture of the Free State namely Boukunsskatte van die Vrystaat, and Vrystaatse argitektuur – Histories-argitektoniese ontwikkeling van die Vrystaatse boukuns: ‘n oorsig.  Marianna has also published 16 articles in scientific journals and 26 articles popular journals, mainly in Culna, the annual magazine of the National Museum. 

Historian publishes new book

29 October 2015

Hannes Haasbroek, Head of the History Department at the National Museum, published his third book based on facts and/or important historical figures with some connection to Bloemfontein.  This book, Splinters en Dorings uit die Rosstad se verlede (SUN MeDIA-publishers, Bloemfontein, 2015) contains a collection of factual historical stories written over a period of time, and many of which have been published in Culna, the annual magazine of the National Museum.  It is illustrated with photographs, mostly from the Museum’s own collection. 


Hannes also wrote a book on the life of the well known soprano Cecilia Wessels, Stem en Legende (published in 2005) and ‘n Seun soos Bram (published in 2011) on the life of the advocate and anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer. 

New permanent exhibition on Batho

11 March 2013

Typical red brick hou in Batho, Mangaung.
Typical red brick house in Msimang Street, Batho

An exciting new development at the National Museum is the new permanent exhibition on Batho that is currently being built in the Museum. The  Museum launched the Batho Community History Project in 2007 to collect the history of Batho by means of the oral history method. Apart from collecting, researching  and writing the history of Batho from the perspective of its residents, another main objective of the Batho Project is the mounting of an exhibition on Batho’s history.

The ideal of putting up a world-class display received a welcome boost when the Batho Project was selected as a beneficiary of Flemish government funding in 2012. For a period of two years (2012-2014) the Batho Project will receive funding from The Power of Stories Project, which is a Flemish funding project that aims to develop the culture of storytelling and oral history in developing countries. The funding will be used mainly to incorporate state-of- the-art multimedia hardware and equipment into the display. The objective is to offer visitors an exciting interactive museum experience.        

For more details, please contact Derek du Bruyn @ derek [at] nasmus [dot] co [dot] za.



'n seun soos Bram

27 June 2011

‘n Seun soos Bram is a treatment of the life of advocate and anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer.  This is not a book about Fischer’s via dolorosa or an analytical work about his communism.  It is the story of a promising Afrikaner boy in the context of his prominent Free State family.  It is also the story of his mother Ella who never abandoned her own nationalist views or her devotion to her son.  This story of intrigue and espionage, but also of Bram’s happy childhood and close ties with his mother, is partly based on new documents such as family letters and Ella’s diaries.


The author, Hannes Haasbroek, is Head of the History Department at the National Museum.  His book on the life of the well known soprano, Cecilia Wessels, Stem en Legende, was published in 2005.