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South Africa postcard collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 591

Scope and Contents

The collection contains 400 postcard-sized artworks, including paintings, photographs, drawings, prints, beadwork, collages, and written statements. Most artwork was created by progressive women artists in South Africa. Most works are anonymous.

In addition to the physical postcards, in series one, there is additional digital material, including descriptions of the postcards and photographs of their original order, in series two.


  • Creation: 1989 - 1990

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

The material is stored off site. Please request 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

This collection represents postcards exhibited in the exhibition "South African Mail: Messages from the Inside: Women Artists in Resistaice" curated by Janet Goldner in association with the women artists from South Africa. The exhibition was shown in Soho 20 Gallery in NYC from January 30th to February 17th, 1990.

Goldner traveled to South Africa in November of 1989, where she traveled around the country asking people about apartheid and asking them to create art that represented answers to the questions: How does apartheid work? What can you do? What can't you do? And what will South Africa look like after apartheid?

The call for entries was put out by the Artists Alliance in Johannesburg and Visual Artists Group of the Cultural Workers Congress in Cape Town. Workshops were organized in progressive schools, black and colored townships, and black "homelons." Regional exhibitions of the show were held in South Africa.

The goal was to represent life in South Africa through this postcard-sized art to a western audience with very little press out of the apartheid nation. As Goldner wrote in the introduction to the exhibit, "This exhibition with its approximately 400 unique, postcard-sized artworks presents messages directly from progresssive women in South Africa. There is a lot htey would like us to know about their lives and to know about ours."


3 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The postcards have been dismounted from their backing from the original exhibition for conservation purposes. The postcards are all rehoused in boxes meant to preserve the integrity of the art. The original order of the photographs can be found in image files in a digital portion of the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased by Jessica Martin in 2017.

Processing Information

Jessica Martin processed this collection in 2018.

Finding Aid for the South Africa postcard collection
4 Published And Cataloged
Jessica Achberger Martin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA