The Drakenstein Heemkring is a privately owned photographic and documentary archive, and its primary function is to serve as a resource centre for the residents of Paarl and its surrounding towns. The name “heemkring” is derived from the Dutch and refers to a group of like-minded people – usually volunteers – who attend to the preservation of the culture and history of a particular area and its inhabitants.
The Drakenstein Heemkring was established in 1977, and its first meeting was held on 8 June 1977 on Schoongezicht farm in Daljosaphat, a farming district between Paarl and Wellington.
Today the archive is housed in the historic De Oude Woning, a townhouse on the corner of Main and Auret Streets in Paarl. The house was originally built by SP Jordaan in 1784. The building is one of the oldest surviving Cape Dutch homes in Paarl.
The Gribble Collection of photographs is one of the Heemkring’s largest collections. More than half of the 30,000 photographs date from the late 19th century and early 20th century and were created on glass plate negatives. The priceless collection of photographs depict street scenes, farming landscapes, market places, and many portrait studies.
The Heemkring’s marriage and baptism records date back to the late 17th century, when the valley only had one church, and most of the residents were French Huguenots. Many visitors are quite surprised to discover that those first entries into the church records were written in French.
The archive also has a large collection of family bibles, legal documents, personal records, audio tapes, magazines, newspaper clippings, books and taped interviews of residents.
Visit us at De Oude Woning, 214 Main Street Paarl. We are open week days from 10am to 12pm and by appointment. For more information follow this link to the Heemkring’s website, or follow our blog to find out more about our exciting research projects.