Guide to the David Goldblatt photographs and films, 1960-1976


Collection comprises 251 black-and-white photographic prints taken by David Goldblatt during the 1960s of black and white South African miners at work, and South African Afrikaners. Collection also includes copies of three 16 mm films, "Soweto," "On the Mines," and "Some Afrikaners," created by Goldblatt in 1976 from his still images. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts, Duke University.

Collection Details

Collection Number
David Goldblatt photographs and films
Goldblatt, David
3.6 Linear Feet, 5 boxes; 3 film reels, 257 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Collection comprises 251 silver bromide black-and-white photographic prints taken by David Goldblatt in South Africa during the late 1960s. Accompanying the photographs are also three 16 mm films, Soweto, On the Mines, and Some Afrikaners, created in 1976 from his still images; DVD viewing copies are available for these films. Goldblatt captured these images of gold miners and Afrikaaner people in different regions of South Africa, traveling from his hometown west of Johannesburg to the Western Cape province and the Karoo.

The photographs in this collection were published in Goldblatt's first two books: On The Mines (1973, with Nadine Gordimer) and Some Afrikaners Photographed (1975).

The On the Mines series features images from the late 1960s of both white and black South African gold miners, in groups and individually, both inside and outside the mines. The images in the Some Afrikaners series, shot from 1961 to 1968, depict the everyday life of the white South Africans known as Afrikaners, and the environment in which they lived. Subjects include school, recreation, mealtimes, buildings, decorum and dress; there are group pictures as well as individual portraits.

Print sizes vary: there are 8x10 inch prints; uncropped work prints of custom sizes and shapes on paper no larger than approximately 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches; and prints mounted on 12 1/2 x 13 inch tan mat boards. Most have notes with printing instructions, with occasional captions on backs of prints or beneath prints on mat boards. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use & Permissions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], David Goldblatt Photographs and Films, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Contents of the Collection

1. On The Mines, 1960s

3 boxes

Consists of 115 black-and-white silver bromide prints (31 8x10 inches and 84 of custom sizes) of images taken by Goldblatt in the 1960s in and around the gold mines near Johannesburg. Approximately sixty of the prints are portraits of miners; other shots are of groups of men outside and inside the mines, mine equipment, and landscapes around the mines.

8x10 inch prints
(31 items)
Box 1
Custom size work prints
(50 items)
Box 2
Custom size work prints
(34 items)
Box 3

2. Some Afrikaners, 1961-1968

3 boxes

Consists of 136 black and white silver bromide prints (23 8x10s and 113 in other sizes). Subjects are Afrikaner families and individuals in various social settings.

8x10 inch prints
(23 items)
Box 1
Custom size work prints
(67 items)
Box 4
Custom work prints
(46 items)
Box 5

3. 16 mm Films, 1976

Contains three black-and-white 16mm films which David Goldblatt created with the still images in the photographs collection.

Conditions Governing Access note

Original recordings are closed to use. Viewing copies of the films are available on DVD; please consult with a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

Reel 1, Soweto
Reel 2, Some Afrikaners
Reel 3, On the Mines

Historical Note

David Goldblatt was born November 29, 1930 in the South African city Randfontein of the province Gauteng. His photographic career began at age eighteen when he began taking pictures. With parents and grandparents who fled Lithuania around 1890 to escape from religious persecution against Jews, Goldblatt found himself simultaneously a part of white society that saw itself as superior, and an object of racial and religious oppression; this may explain in part the subjects of his images, which explore and document the complexities of a particular historical moment in South Africa. Goldblatt was drawn to the gold mines near his hometown, where he roamed as a child, and photographed these sites and the workers in black-and-white. In the 1990s he began to shoot in color to a greater extent, also including a few of his 1960s color photographs in his 2012 redesigned edition of On the Mines).

Besides contributing to many photographic exhibitions, Goldblatt has published many books and has produced films created from his still images. He has been recognized for his achievements in documenting South African life and society with the Hasselblad Award in 2006, the Cartier-Bresson Award in 2009, and the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center for Photography.

Related Material

  • South Africa Documentary Photographs Collection, 1970s-2008 (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)
  • Paul Weinberg Photographs [rural indigenous communities and urban culture in several African countries] (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The David Goldblatt photographs and films were placed on deposit in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1989 and converted to a gift in 2006. Subsequent additions were received in 2008 and 2009.

Processing Information

Processed by Katy Terrell, November 2009

Accessions 89-005 and 2006-0007, 2008-0013, 2008-0031, 2009-0004, and 2009-0171 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.