Skip to Main Content

Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): South Africa: The Making of U.S. Policy, 1962–1989

About this Collection

This collection provides more than 2,500 primary source documents describing U.S. relationships to apartheid including implementation, enforcement, and violations of the U.N.-sponsored sanctions against South Africa. The collection spans the period from the arrest of Nelson Mandela to his release.

Research Value of the Collection

The South African collection provides both a comprehensive index and catalog--accompanied by an extensive chronology and set of glossaries--to a centralized record of one of the most controversial foreign policy issues since World War II. Spanning the years 1962-1989, the collection provides one of the most complete sets of documents available to the Public on U.S. management of a conflicting set of interests . The documents collected here are up-to-date (some were created as recently as 1989), broad-ranging and, until now, virtually unavailable to scholars, researchers and the general public. Indeed, one indication of the exceptional value of this collection is the fact that former Carter and Reagan Administration officials who made and implemented U.S. policy toward South and southern Africa have already approached the National Security Archive to gain access to papers--including documents they authored--that they otherwise have been unable to obtain from the U.S. government.

Diplomatic historians will also find the early cable traffic, as well as later reporting during the Reagan Administration, of particular value for documenting the various activities and functions of a U.S. Embassy in a controversial environment. Regional studies scholars will also find value in the U.S. Embassy reporting on the military and political tensions in the region. Although biased in part by a hostile U.S. policy toward the governments of Angola and Mozambique in particular, and to the liberation movements in the region.

Documenting U.S.-South African relations from the Kennedy Administration through the Reagan years, this collection allows researchers to evaluate changes over time and to chart the evolution of U.S. policy toward South Africa under six U.S. presidents.