I work as an historical researcher and accept commissions from clients in South Africa and from other parts of the world.
Historical research is an interesting and rewarding job. Consider the meaning of the word job / Job. Certainly on the one hand it means employment but spelled with a capital J – Job suggests someone with great patience. Patience is an absolute necessity in undertaking this work.
When one decides to practice independently, realisation is almost immediate that one is running a business. With all the care a business requires. Knowledge with added practical experience makes for valuable assets. But, as with any venture, it also takes good health, energy, patience and HARD WORK! A daily routine can vary from straight forward research in various institutions, giving talks on specific historical matters or by writing for a newspaper or magazine. I found that tutoring the English language from Grades 10-12 in the southern suburbs of this lovely city keeps one’s own interpretations and perspectives up to date.
Access to local research institutions in Cape Town is via three local univeristies: Cape Town University, University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University; the Western Cape Archives, Master’s Office, Deeds Office, the National Library of South Africa, museums and various private document collections. There are also excellent resources in other parts of the country.
Having own transport rather than having to rely on public transport is a plus which allows one not only to arrive at a specific institution on time but also gives one greater mobility. Walking around a suburb or rural towns and villages with a notebook, pen and camera in hand is another way to learn about a particular neighbourhood and to observe small details of historical interest. For example: Names of roads which, when some are investigated, will reflect many social and economic details of the area; milestones almost beg one to ask why they are there; cannons, somewhat aged, what is their history? Oh there are so many interesting facts about which one can learn.