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Genealogical Research in Namibia: A Preliminary Overview

By Werner Hillebrecht This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Researchers can count on the following institutions:
1) The National Archives of Namibia. Because of frequent staff change and an unstable mail connection via the Ministry of Education, the National Archives has in the past sometimes been difficult to reach. The new email connection is reliable: national.archives® Postal address: P/Bag 13250, Windhoek. Fax +264-61-2935217, Phone 2035211. Enquiries are free, copies and digital copies for a fee. The Archives reading room is open Mon-Fri 9:00-16:00. The service is usually fast, documents are being fetched within 15 minutes (but not between 12:00-14:00, although the reading room remains open). Photographing documents is allowed. Photocopies or scans can be ordered. However, estates are tightly bound, making photocopies difficult, damaging and sometimes impossible, and then photographing is the only allowed method.
2) The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration. Write to: The Permanent Secretary, P/Bag 13200, Windhoek. Fax +264-61-243766
3) The Master of the High Court. P/Bag 13190, Windhoek. Fax+264-61-236802
4) The NG Kerk in Namibie" Archives. Ds Clemens Marais, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
5) The German Lutheran Church Archives. PO Box 884, Windhoek, fax 221470
6) The Sam Cohen Library, Swakopmund. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Trudie Stols

The main resources and where they can be found:

Deceased estates
Estate files from the German colonial period and the WW1 between 1893-1920 are found in the record group NLA (Nachlassakten) in the National Archives. They were originally created by the German district courts, but were centralised around 1920 to facilitate dealing with property-related enquiries, therefore NLA also contains files on the property of German businesses.
Estate files since 1920 were created by the Master of the High Court, and for the period 1920-1960 are in the record group EST (Deceased Estates) in the National Archives. Estate files as from 1961 onwards are still with the Master of the High Court.
All estates in NLA and in EST until 1956 are computer-indexed with full name, including names of surviving spouses and birth names of married women, on the database FILES in the National Archives. The names are also listed in alphabetical order in the Finding Aid 1/1/217, which currently provides access to 11,315 files with 19,463 names. The database and the finding aid are not accessible onlineand can only by consulted at the National Archives.
Data entry of the estates 1957-1960 has started, but currently the estates from this period can only be identified through the register at the Master of the High Court.
According to the South African legal provisions. Estates of "Whites" were registered with the High Court, while the Estates of "Natives" were either dealt with by customary law (in most cases) or by the Magistrates (especially for migrant workers). It seems that many of those "Native estate" files were destroyed, and those that were transferred to the National Archives were not indexed. Or unknown reasons, also a number of "White" estates were dealt with only by Magistrates. Indexing of all these estates has only started recently and is still far from complete.
In 1908-1914, when there were many migrant workers from the Cape Province in Namibia, if they died their estates were handled by the British Consul in Luderitz and sent to the Master of the High Court in Cape Town.

Birth, death and marriage records
Births, deaths and marriages of German citizens in Namibia during the German period were recorded by the Standesamt offices in the districts, but they were reported to Germany and apparently no local record kept. They can be requested from the Standesamt 1 in Berlin,$te/standesamt-i-in-berlin/urkundenanforderung/artikel.94831.php which keeps the records from all such registers of Germans abroad, including the German colonies. Apparently, most of the colonial records have meanwhile been transferred to the Landesarchiv Berlin Since South Africa took over, birth/death/marriage records were dealt with by Home Affairs. Births, deaths and marriages under South African rule were at some stage all centralised by Home Affairs in Pretoria. Since 2000, these Namibian records have been repatriated to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Namibia, which has an ongoing programme to digitise these records. I have currently no information how far this has proceeded.

Divorce records
Divorces of persons classified as "white" were handled only by the High Court. They were registered under the heading "Illiquid cases" together with all kinds of property disputes, and not as a separate category. The High Court case records until 1980 have been transferred to the National Archives in the archival group SCW Supreme Court Windhoek, and have mostly been indexed on the database COURT, although the registration for the period 1961-1980 still has some gaps. Like with the estates divorces of persons classified as "Native", "Bantu", "Coloured" etc were handled by the Magistrates, and their records often neglected. Relatively few "Native divorce" cases were transferred to the archives, and they are not yet indexed. This is now often creating problems in property disputes.

Passport applications
Passport applications from 1919-1954 are in the National Archives. They are of interest for giving some personal details, often including passport photos. They are computer indexed, although often not with full names, on the database FILES. It seems that after 1954 all this was handled centrally in Pretoria, or the files never transferred, but I have not researched into this issue.

Immigration files
Individual "immigration deposit" files from 1934-1955 are in the National Archives, and indexed on the FILES database, although often not by full names. However, the detail on these files is very scanty, and I suspect another file with more detail would have been created at Home Affairs in Pretoria. This concerns overseas immigrants, because British/South African citizens did not need any applications, although they could be expelled from the territory as "undesirables" of there was any reason to do so. Therefore, it is often very difficult to find any proof of the presence of South Africans within Namibia if they were born and died in South Africa, unless they can be found in directories or as farm owners.

World War II files and "alien registration" files
While the registration of South Africans was almost non-existent, there is very much archival evidence of individual German citizens. Almost all Germans in the territory, who had been automatically naturalized in the 1920s, got their naturalization revoked in World War II and were under police surveillance (creating "Suspect" or "Nazi suspect" files in the SPO and SPW record groups; also a few South Africans got under surveillance, such as known Ossewa Brandwag members), correspondence censorship, or were interned. All the relevant files are in the National Archives, and fully computer-indexed (FILES and COURT databases).
Also, in 1939 "Aliens registration" cards were introduced, where Germans and other "alien" persons had to register their domicile and place of work, with passport photo. Such cards are present at the National Archives for between 1939-1957, and fully computer-indexed.

Church registers
All registers from the parishes of the NG Kerk have been centralized and are stored at the National Archives, but access is through the NG Kerk administrative office in Windhoek. They have also been digitized by Family Search, but I am not informed how far the lengthy process of indexing them has proceeded.
The Windhoek registers of the German Lutheran Church (DELK) are at the DELK Church office in Fidel Castro Street, while the registers of the various parishes around the country are still maintained by those parishes. A photocopy of the Otiiwarongo DELK register is at the National Archives. Church registers of the oldest mission church (Rhenish Mission), today ELCRN, are also mostly with the parishes, and some of the earliest got destroyed in the various wars. A photocopy of the Rehoboth register is at the National Archives. 
Church registers of the Finnish Mission - today ELCIN in Northern Namibia have been microfilmed, a microfilm copy is at the National Archives (currently inaccessible because the microfilm reader is out of service - purchase of a new reader is intended).

Angola Boers
A special case is the "Angola Boers" that were resettled in Namibia in the 1920s. The National Archives has very detailed documentation about them in several archival groups and private accessions, with various lists, but no case files about individuals that would be searchable on the databases. The relevant records are mentioned in the books by Nicol Stassen (Protea Books) who researched extensively in the National Archives of Namibia.

Passenger lists
The best source for passenger lists for sea entries to Namibia since German times is the Sam Cohen Library in Swakopmund. There are also passenger lists in the National Archives, but they have not been processed for easy research.

Directories and Who's Who
There is Meinert's Trade and Farms Directory (7 issues between 1923-1958), and the annual telephone directory since 1931 (with some gaps), as well as some other directories. Also the Who's Who of Southern Africa, which used to have a South West Africa section, is a goodsource for info on professionals and public personalities.

Gravestone lists
Mr von Schumann (see below, under Local research assistance) has compiled extensive lists of gravestone inscriptions. The Kriegsgraberfursorge has published an almost complete list of war graves in Namibia (from the colonial wars and World War I).

Further sources
There is a multitude of other resources on the National Archives databases that are mentioning names that can help to put together family histories. There are the complete farm files of the German administration 1884-1914, they are computer-indexed by farm name and owner. For later periods, there are the farm records of the Lands Branch (LAN), also indexed with farm name and owner. Also good resources for names are the Inspector of Mines prospecting licences (IMW). It should also be mentioned that the National Archives now has a "super-database" named NAN that allows searching through all catalogued records at the same time, including court files and government records, private accessions, literature, oral history, and photos. This allows sometimes to find unexpected additional material.

Local research assistance
It is of course preferable to visit Namibia and do the research on site. If this is not possible, and if contacting the institutions does not help, one can enlist the assistance of independent researchers for a fee. I am currently aware of the following researchers:Mr Gunter von Schumann This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Myself werner.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Both have extensive experience in researching at the National Archives and in reading the old German handwriting (Sutterlin script).

Kieserslys DVD

DVD 2 met die data van die 1984 Kieserslys is nou beskikbaar. DVD 2 bevat 572 Excel lêers elk met tot 5271 name. (die totale 1984 Kieserslys). Die lêers word in Excel formaat sowel as in Zip formaat op die DVD verpak. Die data is in die volgorde soos dit in die kieserslys mikro-fiche voorkom maar dit is dan ook soekbaar d.m.v. Windows Explorer Soekfunksie. Daar is net minder as 3 miljoen name met geboortedatums, van en volle name, nooiensvan, adres soos deur Binnelandse Sake aangetoon in 1984 en dan ook die beroep van die persoon.
DVD 2 kos R 280,00 plus posgeld binnelands R 35,00 en R 75,00 buitelands. GGSA Takke kan bestellings plaas vir hulle lede en korting van 15% vir hulle takke verdien. Die data kan ook per Dropbox of WeShare gestuur word – tel net R 35 by vir datakoste (ipv R 35 vir posgeld) aangesien die volume nogal groot is – die data word dan in Zip-formaat gestuur.
84 KieserslysBestellings kan geplaas word by Versending kan ook per Dropbox of WeShare gedoen word. R 35,00 word gehef vir data koste: Totaal R315-00. Korting van R 42, 00 per DVD vir GGSA takke wat bestel
Doen inbetalings by: Nedbank. Rekeningnaam: GGSA-GSSA; Killarney Tak Takkode: 191605; Rekeningnommer: 1916051332. Verwysing: KS+Voorletters en Van. [Voorbeeld: KS-MEduToit].
LW: Volledige afleweringsadres asook bewys van betaling moet verskaf met bestelling.


GENEALOGIESIMPOSIUM: SATERDAG 12 AUGUSTUS 2017                           GGSA Logo met onderskrif Versag               GGSA Logo met onderskrif Versag

Aangebied deur vier takke: Noord-Transvaal, Vaaldriehoek, Johannesburg en Wes-Gauteng.               
97 ywerige genealoe het die simposium bygewoon. Die sprekers het hulle baie goed van hul taak gekwyt.     
Die onderwerpe was uiteenlopend van aard. Apart from providing well researched family stories intertwined with history a factual  
description of the implications of the amendments to the the Copyright Act provided food  for thought for the attendees. 
An exciting insight into the little known resources of the Police Archives was provided.



 Margaret Gundry -  Five Women from St Helena -   I have been researching Sarah Riley on Tristan da Cunha and St Helena and again and again in my research I came across the   Margaret Gphrase “In 1827 Captain Amm/Ham brought five ladies from St Helena as wives for the five bachelors on the Island.” It became my mission to work out who these ladies were by working from the baptismal and marriage records and then to try and trace them back to St Helena. I can’t say that I have been really successful so far although I think I have traced Sarah Riley back to a baptism on St Helena.                      

Isabel GIsabel Groesbeek - Die sinergie tussen genealogie en godsdiens (500 jaar na Reformasie.  As genealoog sedert 1988, eers as navorser by Genealogie-Inligting, RGN en later as private navorser, het ek ‘n besondere waardering vir kerkregisters ontwikkel. Vanjaar vier die Protestantse kerke regoor die wêreld 500 jaar Reformasie en met die viering in gedagte het ek gedink dat ek graag oor die sinergie tussen genealogie en godsdiens met u wil gesels.

Charline Wentzel -
Ouma vertel ons bietjie.......   'n Reis deur ou  kiekies om met die kleinkinders te deel hoe interessant en gevarieerd hulle voorgeslagte  se geskiedenis was. Charline WEenvoudige mense tot die met meer aansien, tog is nie een se verhaal minder belangrik nie . Ouma se verhaal het as 'n jong dogtertjie op die plaas tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog begin. Glashelder kon sy die verskillende gebeure verhaal. Ouma Catharina Magdalena Vorster (x ZA de Beer) het hulle wedervarings opgeteken en aan elkeen van haar kleinkinders n boekie oorhandig. Dit bly n baie kosbare besitting. Daarmee saam het talle foto's behoue gebly.                        

Robert B Robert Bush - Sometimes it is Easy. Researching my maternal grandfather, Jasper Bradley Hall lead me to a very interesting lady Catherine Hall (Wager).  The Wirksworth.Org.UK web site, run by John Palmer provided a one stop research site for the Wirksworth area and I obtained a lot of interesting information on Catherine. ……. and …….. Sometimes it is Not So Easy. The second lady that I discussed was my paternal great-grandmother Emmah Miller (Hannah) 1861 to 1893, Graaff-Reinet, my oldest South African born ancestor.  She is my one of my three brick walls and I have not been able to research her line any further.

 Erna Buber-de Villiers - Formidabele Vroue/ Unsung heroines. Ek bespreek die elf lede van my pa se matriargale lyn in Suid-Afrika vanaf stammoeder  Margaretha Geertjen/Grietje GERRITS Erna B(mtDNA T2b3-C151T)  tot by my my ouma, Johanna Barbara Frederika BUITENDAG. Hul stories strek vanaf 1662 tot 1980, vanaf lewe in e vroeë Caeb en die latere ontberings tydensdie Suid-Afrikaanse Oorlog, tot die omswerwinge van ‘n Spoorwegman se se vrou in die eerste helfte van die 20e eeu.

Neels CNeels CoertseVoorgestelde wysiginge  aan die Outeursregwet - Die voordrag het in hooftrekke oor die wysigingswetontwerp oor outeursregte gegaan. Oa voorgestelde wysigings t.o.v. musiek, videos, literatuur, kunswerk & rekenaarprogrammatuur ens word gedek. Die outeursreg van tabelle hoewel nie die inhoud nie, maar die samestelling is ook bespreek. Die filosofie van wetsopstelling het verander en daar word gesorg vir die minderbevoorregtes

Brig. Hennie Heymans Onderbenutte Genealogiese Polisiebronne. Misdaad is so oud soos die Hennie Hmensdom self. Polisie hou oog oor gemeenskap. Daar is wettige bedrywighede, onwettige bedrywighede of versuime en algemene verdagte optrede. Bronne sluit dinge in soos medaljes - soldaat en polisieman se CV wat hy op sy bors dra, nommer, rang en naam rede vir  toekenning. Die  SAP se magsorders sluit  aspekte in soos sterftes, eervolle vermeldings, toekenning van medaljes, dekorasies en ordes. In ou magsorders is sterftes, attestasie,  bevordering, eervolle vermeldings, sportkampioene, eksamenrade, In die ou polisie argiewe is daar verdagtes se leggers, bekende moordenaars die diamanttak – oudste  aaneenlopende polisie-eenheid. En meer.


 Die simposium is opgeneem op video en kan besigtig word by  hierdie skakel: The symposium was recorded and can be viewed at this link.

  het hierdie fasiliteit beskikbaar gemaak.

3H7B0847 Saal3H7B0860 Margaret3H7B0965 Dave K3H7B1121 Janine en span3H7B1139 Middagete


Join Now

boertjie drink teeThere are two options to choose from should you wish to become a member of the GSSA.
1)Decide on the branch that you would like to join by visiting the GSSA website Then on the page of the branch of your choice select  “contact us” and forward your completed form to the membership committee member. 2) You can join via the eGSSA branch. Visit this page: and follow the instructions. The membership fee of the eGSSA consists of three elements, viz. membership of the GSSA; membership of the eGSSA and optional member of a land based branch as well. Download the apllication, complete the form and submit the form to the branch of your choice as described above
Application/Aansoek (Scroll down on the page for the Afrikaans version)


Versameling Grafte 1
Many people pass idly by cemeteries and little graveyards next to the roadside. Very few people realise that on headstones a wealth of information lies to be exploited. Many genealogists will go out of their way to visit graveyards and cemeteries, Information such as birth and  date of death, full names of the deceased and in some cases the name of the spouse can be found. This may lead to a breakthrough in the family researcher's quest. Over the years the members of the GSSA photographed thousands of headstone. These have been uploaded to eGSSA website. 

DNA Research

dna logo Jaco

 There are basically three types of DNA tests: Y-DNA – Y-DNA is passed on from father to son along a direct paternal line and it is therefore possible to track the paternal surname from one generation to the next. For this reason, only men are eligible for this test. mtDNA – All children inherit mtDNA from their mothers and since mtDNA traces generation after generation of one's direct maternal ancestors, both sexes are equally able to determine the origin of their maternal line. Autosomal DNA – this ‘Family Finder’ test literally hundreds of thousands of possible SNPs for precise DNA correlations/matches with others across all of one's genetic lines. This test is therefore also available to both sexes