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Archive Documents Photographs

We can obtain copies of documents from the South African Archives repositories at Cape Town (KAB), Pietermaritzburg (NAB) for Natal, Bloemfontein (VAB) for the Orange Free State and Pretoria (TAB)  for the Transvaal.

The references and details as given in the NAAIRS online index must be provided.  

NB. We cannot obtain document copies from any other South African repository.

This is a photographic service, not a research service.

If you have further queries after reading the information below please contact Richard Ball (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

How do I place my order

Terms and Conditions

Who can use this service

What will it cost

Information required on order form

At which Archive Repositories can document copies be made

Who will take the photographs

What will happen once I have placed my order

How long will it take before I receive the photographs

Important notes

Some comments from users


How do I place my order.

Please go to our online shop here ...

You will need to answer a few questions before reaching the form for ordering documents.

Before going there, please read through the notes that follow on this page.

Terms and Conditions:

1. This service is available to everyone.

2. Current members of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (all current eGGSA members are members of this society) receive a 50% discount.

3. The document copies must be ordered using our online shopping service.

4. Copyright: The photographs are not copyrighted. Purchaser has a non-exclusive right, and may use or distribute them freely, for any purpose.

5. eGGSA may make the photographs available to the Archives, to help with the preservation of the originals.

6. eGGSA may make some photographs available on our website, and may offer collections of photographs for sale.

7. We cannot search for documents.

8. We cannot judge the genealogical worth of a document.

9. We cannot screen documents for particular information; for example, to check whether a Death Notice names a particular spouse or child.

10. If you specify that only certain types of documents be photographed, and no such documents exist in the specified file, you will still be charged for this item as though one photograph had been taken, since much time will have been taken up ordering, finding and examining the file for the documents you have specified.

11. We do not provide referrals to or recommendation of professional researchers.

12. We aim to produce photographs which are clearly legible - we make no claim to providing photographs which will produce high quality priints.


Payment may be made via PayPal or Bank Transfer from a South African Bank account.
International payments must be made via PayPal.

Please note the following:

Over the years the South African Archives some document references have been changed. If your document reference is not taken from the NAAIRS online index, specify the source.

Beware of documents with many pages. MOIB (Insolvent liquidation) can contain hundreds of items, mostly account statements and bills, CSC (Court cases), DOC (Mortgage bonds) as can Liquidation and Distribution accounts. Please check the information about using the Note field on the application form.

The charges are reckoned thus:: 

    Members of the Genealogical Society of SA
(this includes all eGGSA members)
    Anyone else (non members)
    R32 or $2 (USD)  for every 10 files or part thereof in the order, plus     R64 or $4 (USD)  for every 10 files or part thereof in the order, plus
    R16 or $1 (USD) for photographing the first page of each document     R32 or $2 (USD) for photographing the first page of each document
    8 or $0.50 (USD) for photographing each subsequent page of a document     R16 or $1 (USD) for photographing each subsequent page of a document

Since we cannot know the number of pages in advance, payment will be requested when the photographs are ready for download. If you wish you may stipulate a maximum number of pages to photograph in the note field against each document ordered.

Payment may be made via PayPal or Bank Transfer from a South African Bank account.
International payments must be made via PayPal.

Please be aware that some files may contain a very large number of pages and your charges may mount up unexpectedly. Please see Estate Files and other documents with many pages.

Please Note: documents orderd from the Pietermaritzburg Master Office (as per the list on this web site) will be charged at R8.00 ($1.00 USD) per page as the Master's Office is now charging for each photograph made.

Information required on the order form

We only obtain copies of documents which can be found by using the South African Archives Service online index NAAIRS

To order a copy of a document the following information is required for each document:

Source, Volume, Reference and Description fields as shown on the NAAIRS results pages.

Please enter the Source, Volume and Reference information in the box headed 'Document Reference' on our form.

For instance, if the NAAIRS index gives the following information:


The information on your document request should be entered as follows:

Qty 1
Depot  TAB
Document Reference MHG 2295/40
( made up of Source, Volume_no (if there is one, including 0 ) and Reference)


The following screen shot of the Result Summary view on NAAIRS may perhaps make the distinctions between no volume number, a volume number of 0 and a more complicated volume number: 

IMPORTANT. The Note field is provided for any comment or query you may like to add regarding this document, but particularly for your instructions regarding Estate Files which may contain more than one document. In the KAB archives these files have the words 'Estates File' in the description, in the TAB and VAB archives files whose document reference begins MHG are estate files and in Pietermaritzburg (TAB) the document reference MSCE indicates an estate file.

See also the note below about other types of documents with many pages.

With these files, please state how much you wish photographed of what is contained in your indicated file. 
Please Note: although we have provided a list below of the various documents that may be contained in an estate file, we do not expect our photographers (who are not paid researchers' rates) to examine documents and pieces of paper to establish their genealogical value. With that in mind we cannot accept orders which ask for 'all material of genealogical value', 'all important correspondence' or wordings that imply time employed in reading through the estate file.

Here is an example:

Please photograph the Death Notice and all of the following, if
available: Will, Inventory List, Liquidation and Distribution Accounts,
Marriage Certificates and Death Certificate.

The above listing is given as an example only and applies to Estate Files only. There are many other types of files listed in the NAAIRS index of which we have no knowledge nor what types of documents they may contain.

If you do so specify, and none of the specified documents are found in the specified file so that no photographs result, you will still be charged as if on photograph had been taken, to compensate the photographer for the time spent in this process.

Many files contain only the document indexed, but some Index entries, for instance those which list the item as being an 'Estate File' can contain many different documents, some of them consistiing of many pages, usually some or all of the following. Those in heavy type are the most commonly found and, usually, the most valuble from a genalogical point of view:

1. Death Notice Contains normally place of birth, age, death date, place of death, names of parents, names of children etc. Probably the most important document for genealogical research in South Africa. May be one or more pages.

2. Will can contain amongst other the names of the parents, children as well as possessions. Usually several pages.

3. Inventory List of possessions of deceased person compiled after his/her death. Often a large number of pages.

4. Vendu Roll List of possessions of deceased person sold on auction. Can also contain many pages.

5. Liquidation and Distribution Account contains a list of assets and debts of estate. They give the names of the beneficiaries of the estate. Give names of spouses of dispossessed party‚Äôs daughters if they were married in community of property. The names of these spouses are not always in the death notice. Usually a number of pages.

6. Valuation certificates A property valuer might have valued a property and submitted a valuation certificate to the Master of the Supreme Court.

7. Statement made by beneficiary with receipt of inheritance. This statement sometimes contains the address of the beneficiary that may of course be different than the place where the deceased person has lived. The father who is deceased may have lived in Wellington and when the child acknowledges receipt of his/her inheritance may have stayed in Nelspruit.

8. Marriage Certificates Issued by the Department of Internal Affairs

9. Antenuptial Contract - drawn up when a couple marries outside of community of property.

10. Death Certficate, issued by the Department of Internal affairs, may contain cause of death.

11. Birth Certificate, issued by the Department of Internal Affairs

12. Copies of Baptismal Certificates issued by a church.

13. Mortgage Bonds Contain information of properties owned by deceased person.

14. Advertisement of estate as published in Newspaper

15. Important Correspondence. Many of the letters in an estate are of very little value but sometimes there may be correspondence relating to the inheritances of minors or other matters that may be of genealogical and cultural historical value. It also sometimes happeneds that one of the beneficiaries may have enquired about certain issues relating to the estate years after the death of the person. These letters also sometimes contain important information.

Since you will be billed for each page photographed it is important that you provide instructions on which of the above documents you require.

Who can use this service

This service is available to all. 
Current members of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (all current eGGSA members are members of this society) receive a 50% discount.

The orders must be placed using our online shop.

At which Archive Repositories can document copies be made

Currently the following are the only repositories of the South African Archives from which copies can be ordered:

Bloemfontein (VAB) - covering the former Orange Free State

Durban (TBD)

Pietermaritzburg(NAB) - covering the former Natal

Pretoria (TAB) - covering the former Transvaal and the whole of South Africa at the current time.

The code in brackets is the identifying code for the Archive repository as used in the NAAIRS online index.

NB. The Cape Town Archives Repository has banned mechanical copying by any means of documents in their care. We understand they will offer a copying service themselves. We cannot, therefore, accept any orders for KAB documents.

Who will take the photographs?

eGSSA has entered into agreements with three genealogists (who are also more than competent photographers!) in Bloemfontein, Pietermaritzburg and Pretoria, who will take digital photographs of Archive documents.

What will happen once I have placed my order?

1. We receive your order via the eGGSA web site.

2. We will contact you by e-mail if we need any additional information.

3. Our photographers will visit the Archives and take the photographs.

4. We will calculate the cost, based on the actual number of pages, and send you the bill. In this connection please see condition number 10 in our Terms and Conditions above.

5. Once you have paid, the photographs will be made available for you to download.

How long will it take before I received the photographs? 

All the photographers are doing this in their spare time. The amount they receive for each photographs is intended to cover their costs and it generally does no more than this, so please be patient. Your photographs will arrive.  

If you have any problems or queries please contact Richard Ball <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

This is an excellent service but not an express service. If an express service is what you want please contact one of the several professional researchers in South Africa.

Some comments from users:

I am very appreciative and grateful for this service as it is very hard for me to do research from Australia - so anything I can do to make it easier is only a pleasure.

Thank you very much. A wonderful service that your society provides, otherwise lengthy delays ,or otherwise, through the bureaucracy.

We got to view the photograph(TAB) and it was perfect - so clear! I think this is a champion idea - especially for us guys who are far from the archives.

I have now ordered my third set of photographs from the project and as an overseas researcher have found this an invaluable and reasonably priced service. The photos are of great quality and I recommend the service to anyone who is unable to access the archives themselves.

This is a fantastic idea and a convenient way of making archive documents available to many of us living overseas.

What a great service!

Being so far away having this facility at such a very reasonable rate has
enabled me to make excellent progress with tracing my family history that
would not otherwise have been possible.  Gary Cannon, Auckland. New Zealand.

I got some photos from VAB and was thrilled with them. I think that it's a great service and very reasonably priced. Lloyd Heys

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