Guide to the Abdullah Abdurahman (1872-1940) Family Papers

Collection Title: Abdullah Abdurahman (1872-1940) Family Papers
Dates: 1906-1962
Identification: 001
Creator: Abdurahman (Family : 1872-1963 : South Africa)
Abdurahman, Abdullah, 1872-1940
Gool, Zainunnissa, 1897-1963
Extent: 7 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: Papers of the Abdullah Abdurahman Family, active in the South African Coloured population's struggle for political and economic equality.
Note: Other Information:See also separation record for listing of items removed from the collection. All materials are in English unless otherwise noted.
Repository: Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies
Northwestern University Libraries
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-467-3084

Scope and Content

The Abdullah Abdurahman Family Papers contain materials from three members of the family; those of Abdullah Abdurahman (1872-1940), physician and political leader, and his wife, Mrs. Helen Abdurahman (1877?-1953), comprise half of the material and Dr. and Mrs. Abdurahman's daughter, Mrs. Zainunnissa Gool (1897-1963), political leader, the other half. Despite gaps, the Abdullah Abdurahman Family Papers provide an historical view of the Coloured population's struggle for political and economic equality in South Africa.

Of special importance are the records reflecting Dr. Abdurahman's involvement in the African People's Organization, the Cape Town City Council, and the Cape Provincial Council, and Mrs. Gool's involvement in the National Liberation League, the Non-European United Front, the Passive Resistance Movement and the Cape Town City Council. A few items relating to Mrs. Helen Abdurahman's civic and political activities are in the collection.

The papers of Dr. A. Abdurahman and Mrs. Abdurahman occupy boxes 1-3 and are divided into the following categories: Biographical, Correspondence, Speeches, Conferences and Conventions, and Political and Governmental.

Biographical, 3 folders, box 1. A London Parliamentary Debate record mentioning Dr. Abdurahman, clippings, programs and handbills on both Dr. and Mrs. Abdurahman provide information on their civic and political activities. Also found here are Abdullah Abdurahman's (Dr. & Mrs. Abdurahman's son) teachers reports.

Correspondence (1912-1938), 2 folders, box 1. Letters written to Mrs. Abdurahman include one from her daughter, Mrs. Gool, and several from local organizations, along with letters of appreciation. Dr. Abdurahman's correspondence contains a printed A.P.O. statement to the 1919 Peace Conference concerning newly conquered German territories; correspondence relating to City Council business, such as higher wages for postal and railway workers, the Asiatic Land Tenure Bill, and the Cape Coloured Commission report; letters of thanks and asking for assistance, and finally, correspondence concerning the withdrawal of Dr. Abdurahman's name for the King's Silver Jubilee Medal.

Speeches, 3 folders, box 1. Covers such topics as equal rights, education, franchise for Non-Europeans, elections, including a folder of speeches written for Mr. Foster.

Conferences and Conventions. 2 folders, box 1. Includes reports (bound and mimeographed) from the South Africa Indian Congress Conferences, and handwritten minutes for the fourth Non-European Conference.

Political and Governmental, 18 folders, 1 record book, boxes 1-3. Consists of African People's Organization materials, including the Women's Guild constitution, minutes, record book and newspapers; city council materials, including a memorandum by Dr. Abdurahman, handwritten notes, committees he served on; Provincial Council draft ordinances on residential segregation, among other topics; South African documents, such as the Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure Bill (1932), the Indian Inquiry Committee Report (1914) and the Cape Coloured Commission report (incomplete) which includes handwritten drafts and typewritten drafts for the political section of the report, recommendations, portions of the report and appendices. The Commission was established to study data on the Cape Coloured population, and although some of the testimonials are in Afrikaans, most of this material is in English.

The papers of Mrs. Zainunnissa Gool occupy boxes 3-5 and consist of the following: Biographical, Conferences and Conventions, Correspondence, and Political and Governmental.

Biographical, 3 folders, box 3. Consists of clippings (1935-1961) on Mrs. Gool; handbills announcing Gool speeches, sponsored by such political organizations as Friends of the Soviet Union, the Anti-Fascist League, and the Local Co-ordinating Unity Committee; programs, bills and miscellany.

Conferences and Conventions, 1 folder, box 3. This category includes agendas and minutes for national conferences and conventions sponsored by the South African Institute of Race Relations, the Africa National Congress, among others. Also found here are meeting agendas and minutes, statements, resolutions and reports of various commissions, committees and associations.

General Correspondence (1936-1961), 4 folders, box 3. In addition to invitations and meeting notices there are several congratulatory letters to Mrs. Gool on election victories, from acquaintances, and organizations such as the Communist Party of South Africa, the National Council of Women of South Africa and the Vigilance Association of Langa. There is considerable National Liberation League (N.L.L.) correspondence on topics such as bathing beaches for Non-Europeans, inadequate health facilities and correspondence regarding litigation against the N.L.L.; also Non-European United Front (N.E.U.F.) correspondence from unions and other sources; correspondence dealing with housing segregation; and the remainder is from such organizations as the Passive Resistance Council, Natal Indian Congress, Non-European Unity Movement, India League and the Anti-C.A.D. Organization.

Political and Governmental, boxes 4-5. Included in materials from the N.L.L., N.E.U.F., Passive Resistance Movement (P.R.M.) and Anti-C.A.D. organizations are: publications, handbills announcing Gool speeches, agendas, minutes, constitutions, programs, and membership lists. In addition there are clippings on Mrs. Gool and the P.R.M., and N.L.L. and P.R.M. photographs of Mrs. Gool and Dr. and Mrs. Abdullah Abdurahman.

City Council materials include campaign literature for Mrs. Gool and other candidates; Mrs. Gool's correspondence (1937-1961) from constituents and the Cape Town City Council, reports, minutes, resolutions, memoranda covering such topics as increased wages and benefits for municipal laborers; employment of Non-Europeans in skilled jobs, better housing and more recreation grounds.

Included in the last category, boxes 6-7, are South African publications such as newspapers, newspaper reprints, clippings and pamphlets. There are also 2 unidentified photographs, a magazine and book excerpts.

Arrangement of Materials

The Abdullah Abdurahman Family Papers are arranged into three major sections (the papers of Dr. and Mrs. A. Abdurahman, and Mrs. Zainunnissa Gool, and materials belonging to all three). These are divided into ten main categories and are housed in seven boxes. Because of the Abdurahman family's similar interests and activities, some materials relating to a single family member will be found in parts of the collection dealing primarily with other family members.


Corporate Name

African Peoples Organization

Cape Town (South Africa). City Council--Records and correspondence

National Liberation League of South Africa--Records and correspondence

Passive Resistance Movement

Geographical Name

Cape Town (South Africa)--Politics and government

South Africa--Politics and government--1909-1948

South Africa--Politics and government--1948-1961

Personal Name

Abdurahman, Abdullah, 1872-1940

Abdurahman, Helen, 1877?-1953

Gool, Zainunnissa, 1897-1963


Colored people (South Africa)--Politics and government--20th century

Political activists--South Africa

Container List / Contents

  • Dr. & Mrs. Abdullah Abdurahman
    • Biographical
      • Dr. & Mrs. Abdullah Abdurahman, BiographicalBox 1, Folder 1
      • Dr. & Mrs. Abdullah Abdurahman, Clippings, 1909-1943Box 1, Folder 2
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Report of 1920 Shooting (Incomplete)Box 1, Folder 3
    • Correspondence, 1912-1938
      • Mrs. Abdullah Abdurahman, Letters, 1912-1940Box 1, Folder 4
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, General Correspondence, 1919-1938Box 1, Folder 5
    • Speeches
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Published Speeches Written by Dr. Abdurahman, 1904-1931Box 1, Folder 6
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Speeches Written by Dr. Abdurahman for Mr. Foster, 1936Box 1, Folder 7
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Speeches Written by Dr. Abdurahman (Incomplete), n.d.Box 1, Folder 8
    • Conferences and Conventions
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, South African Indian Congress Conference Report, 1935-1945Box 1, Folder 9
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Fourth Non-European Conference Minutes, 1934Box 1, Folder 10
    • Political and Governmental
      • 1910-1912 - African People's Organization (A.P.O.)Box 1, Folder 1
      • A.P.O. - Minutes and Constitution, 1906-1923Box 1, Folder 11
      • "A.P.O." Newspaper, 1909-1914Box 1, Folder 12
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Cape Town. City Council - Committee Lists, 1926-1932Box 2, Folder 1
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Cape Town. City Council - Minutes, Memos, Motions, & Notes, 1921-1934Box 2, Folder 2
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Cape Town. City Council - Cape Municipal Ordinance, 1912Box 2, Folder 3
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Cape Town and Wynberg - General Board of Aide Reports, 1910-1921Box 2, Folder 4
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Municipal Elections - Candidate Meeting Reports, 1932Box 2, Folder 5
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Campaign Literature, 1908-1938Box 2, Folder 6
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Province of the Cape of Good Hope. Provincial Council - Draft Ordinances, Minutes, & Notes, 1920-1938Box 2, Folder 7
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. Governmental Documents, 1914-1932Box 2, Folder 8
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. Cape Coloured Commission (C.C.C.) - Commission (1934) and Minutes (1937)Box 2, Folder 9
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Handwritten DraftsBox 2, Folder 10
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Summary of ReportBox 2, Folder 11
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Political Position, typescripts & notesBox 2, Folder 12
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Completion of Evidence, typescriptsBox 2, Folder 13
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Report (Incomplete), typescriptsBox 3, Folder 1
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Appendices (Incomplete), typescriptsBox 3, Folder 2
      • Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Union of South Africa. C.C.C. - Recommendations & Summaries (Incomplete), typescriptsBox 3, Folder 3
  • Mrs. Zainunnissa Gool
    • Biographical
      • BiographicalBox 3, Folder 4
      • Clippings, 1935-1961Box 3, Folder 5
      • Speech Handbills, 1936-1961Box 3, Folder 6
    • Conferences and Conventions
      • Conferences and Conventions, 1939-1962Box 3, Folder 7
    • General Correspondence, 1936-1961
      • General Correspondence, 1936-1941Box 3, Folder 8
      • General Correspondence, 1942-1949Box 3, Folder 9
      • General Correspondence, 1950-1961Box 3, Folder 10
      • General Correspondence, n.d.Box 3, Folder 11
    • Political and Governmental
      • N.L.L. General Council Minutes, Memos, and Agendas, 1938-1941Box 4, Folder 1
      • N.L.L. Newsletters and Handbills, 1936-1939Box 4, Folder 2
      • N.L.L. Photographs, 1937-1941Box 4, Folder 3
      • Passive Resistance Movement (P.R.M.) Photograph, 1946Box 4, Folder 4
      • P.R.M. Handbills & Miscellany, 1939-1947Box 4, Folder 5
      • P.R.M. Clippings from Cape Argus, 1946Box 4, Folder 6
      • P.R.M. Clippings from Cape Times, 1946Box 4, Folder 7
      • P.R.M. Clippings from other newspapers, 1946-1947Box 4, Folder 8
      • P.R.M. News Bulletin, "Flash", 1946Box 4, Folder 9
      • P.R.M., The Passive Resister, 1946-1947Box 4, Folder 10
      • Mrs. Zainunnissa Gool; National Liberation League (N.L.L.) Minutes, 1935-1936Box 4, Volume 1
      • N.L.L. Membership List, 1938-1939Box 4, Volume 2
      • N.L.L. Finance Bureau Minutes, 1937-1940Box 4, Volume 3
      • Non-European United Front (N.E.U.F.) - Speech Handbills & Miscellany, 1939-1943Box 5, Folder 1
      • Cape Anti-CAD Organization - Speech Handbills & Miscellany, 1943-1961Box 5, Folder 2
      • Cape Anti-CAD - Bulletins, 1943-1948Box 5, Folder 3
      • Campaign Literature for Mrs. Gool - Municipal Elections, 1937-1961Box 5, Folder 4
      • Campaign Literature for Other Candidates - Municipal Elections, 1936-1961Box 5, Folder 5
      • Campaign Literature - Other Elections, 1938-1945Box 5, Folder 6
      • Cape Town. City Council - Correspondence, 1937-1961Box 5, Folder 7
      • Cape Town. City Council - Minutes, Resolutions, Memos, Reports & Notes, 1937-1953Box 5, Folder 8
      • Cape Town. City Council - Housing Reports, 1938Box 5, Folder 9
      • Cape Town. City Council - Staff Grading Reports, 1937-1947Box 5, Folder 10
      • Union of South Africa. - Memo, "Aspects of Housing Problems", 1953Box 5, Folder 11
      • Poll of Voters, 1947,Box 5, Volume 1
  • Dr. & Mrs. Abdullah Abdurahman and Mrs. Zainunnissa Gool
    • Clippings on Cape Town, 1930s and 1940sBox 6, Folder 1
    • Clippings on Cape Town,, 1950s and 1960sBox 6, Folder 2
    • Miscellaneous Clippings, 1920s - 1960sBox 6, Folder 3
    • South African Newspapers, 1931-1952Box 6, Folder 4
    • Miscellaneous Newspaper Reprints, 1909-1938Box 6, Folder 5
    • Pamphlets Published in S.A. : Women's Suffrage, 1908-1938Box 6, Folder 6
    • Pamphlets Published in S.A.: Asiatic Land Tenure Act, 1925-1946Box 6, Folder 7
    • Pamphlets Published in S.A.: Race Issues, 1909-1959Box 6, Folder 8
    • Pamphlets Published in S.A.: Socialist, Communist and Labour Parties, 1938-1944Box 7, Folder 1
    • Pamphlets Published in S.A.: MiscellanyBox 7, Folder 2
    • Magazine, Book ExcerptsBox 7, Folder 3
    • Photographs - unidentified, n.d.Box 7, Folder 4