Skip to main content

Leo Kuper (1908-1994) Papers

Identifier: 004

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised of one folder of correspondence and 21 boxes of materials relating to the research conducted between 1957 and 1963 for Leo Kuper's study of An African Bourgeoisie (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965).

Kuper, assisted by two research assistants at the University of Natal, Anthony Ngubo and Bernard Magubane, conducted interviews with more than one hundred members of South Africa's black professional class, including doctors, lawyers, civil servants, teachers, ministers, nurses, and businessmen, whom Kuper identifies as “traders.”

These interviews, and the more general reading notes and newspaper files, comprise the basic document collection upon which Kuper's sociological analysis of South Africa's black middle class rested. The transcriptions of the interviews suggest that Kuper was primarily interested in the issues of mobility, freedom, and perceived social status and the relation of these concepts to South Africa's apartheid racial system. These interviews comprise the most valuable component of the collection.


  • 1952-1966



21.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



South African sociologist; includes correspondence and research materials from 1957-1963 relating to Leo Kuper's study of An African Bourgeoisie.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged primarily by subject, categories which reflect the organization of Kuper's book. Most categories, such as the various occupational groups, contain two basic components: the primary source documentation and the analysis upon which the narrative of his study is based. The primary sources include transcriptions of interviews, reading notes, statistics, and questionnaire responses. The analyses consist of interpretations written primarily by Kuper, although his research assistants examined several topics carefully and provided Kuper with written interpretations for his book. In addition, six boxes of newspaper clippings, dated almost exclusively 1959-1962, on many aspects of South African life have been removed from the primary source materials and arranged alphabetically by subject in boxes 16 through 21.

A number of printed pamphlets and other published material related to apartheid have been separated from the collection.

Guide to the Leo Kuper (1908-1994) Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Repository

Main Library, 5th Floor, East Tower
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US