The eGGSA BDM project

The eGGSA Archive Project was begun several years ago and so far has covered photographs of archive documents, gravestones and Family Bibles. The aim of this project has always been both to preserve and make available records of genealogical interest and value housed in South African archives and libraries. We aim to do this by photographing the records and making them available, either as photographs or transcripts, on this web site or on DVD, thus making copies of the originals which can be use in place of the originals.

We have felt recently that it is difficult to establish where any church register or copies of such can be found. Various projects have been initiated recently to transcribe some of these, as mentioned on our introductory page, and it seemed a good idea to try to provide a guide to where such records are or may be found, assuming we could establish this information ourselves! During these discussions the idea was mooted that we also photograph, were possible, original registers with the primary aim of preserving them and the secondary aim of transcribing them so as to make them available to all. So we are hoping achieve both of these aims with this project.

Recently there has been a fair amount of work put in hand transcribing church registers and making these available in various formats, for instance Ockert Malan's magnificent transcription of the early Stellenbosch baptismal register1 published as a CD in 2004, and his very recent transcript of the Stellenbosch burial records2 . Ron Smit's web site,, has also, for some time, housed a searchable database of transcripts done by Nolene Lossau and Ellen Stanton from LDS Church microfilms, covering Cape, Orange Free State and Transvaal records4.

Also extremely useful in this context are the extracts transcribed by Sue Mackay from a number of Cape Newspapers housed in the National Archives, Kew. These transcripts are available on several web sites including the eGGSA Newspaper Library.

We have started our series of transcriptions with the early NGK registers and the Anglican registers of the diocese of Grahamstown. Our transcriptions of the NGK registers are being done from the photocopies of the originals made by the HSRC in the 1980s and now housed in the Cape Archives and the Pretoria Archives6, and those of the Anglican Grahamstown Diocese from photographs taken for us in the Cory Library7 by William Jervois, genealogist at the Albany Museum.8

Our aim is to arrange for the registers to be photographed so that we may transcribe them and add them to our searchable database of these records. A copy of the photographs will, of course, be presented to the body housing the registers and also, if desired, to the originating church itself. The transcripts will be available on our web site for all to access. The first of these are now ready, and have been joined by transcripts done by Gary Cannon who has kindly made these available to add to our database.

The project is funded from the income of the eGGSA branch whose source is the annual membership fee and the small profits we accumulate from online sales of CDs and from the photographing of documents in the Archives. We have also received a very generous contribution towards the cost of the project from one of our members, Ian Edwards.