South African History Online (SAHO)
South African History Online (SAHO) is the largest independent history education and research institute in the country. It was established in June 2000, as a non-profit Section 21 organisation.
The organisation is run by an independent Board of Directors, comprising historians and people from the private sector.
SAHOâ€™s aim is to promote history and the arts and to address the bias in written history as represented in South African educational and cultural institutions.
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Online Encyclopaedia on South African History and the arts
SAHOâ€™s flagship project is its website, the largest online history website on the continent, with a vast archive of articles, biographies, books, photographs, documents and audio and video material. The biography feature alone consists of close to 7000 entries, making SAHO the largest biography project in South Africa.
A core team of researchers, supported by student interns, academics, contributors from across the globe, compile and contribute new material which is uploaded daily on to the website by a team of web developers and designers.
The website is recognised as a reliable source of information on South African history and is cited in journal articles, local and international mass media, government, business and educational institutions.
SAHO, through the use of social media, has not only increased the number of people who visit and use its website but has succeeded in creating a dynamic relationship with our audience and in particular with the youth and grassroots history and heritage practitioners and groups.
Over the past two years SAHO has attracted a 100% increase in the number of unique visitors to its website. Since the beginning of 2012 up to mid 2013, nearly 2 and a half million people visited SAHOâ€™s website. Together, with our social media platforms SAHO now averages nearly 3 and half million visitors to its website.
History Education, Internship and Archival Programme
SAHOâ€™s educational programmes promotes scholarship, contributes to the teaching and learning of history and to the training of new historians and archivists.
Basis Education Programmes
SAHO is the only institution in the country which publishes free online material that complies with the needs of primary and secondary schoolsâ€™ history curriculums. The website is a vast and growing encyclopaedia on South African and African history and is used extensively by students.
In addition to the online history curriculum material which is freely available, SAHO works closely with the Departments of Basic and Higher Education to produce books, exhibitions and learning material for use in schools.
SAHO also runs programmes to train teachers in the use of IT in the classroom and is developing an online network of history and history of art teachers, creating a platform where they can assist each other and help develop new resources for use in the classroom.
SAHO, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, hosts the annual Chief Albert Luthuli Oral History Project. This programme involves thousands of students going into their communities to record testimonies, gather documentary evidence and author their local histories. These oral history projects are published on the SAHO website and are an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the histories of individuals and local communities.
Higher Education and Archive Programmes
Since its inception 13 years ago, South African History Online (SAHO) has become the most comprehensive public history project in the country.
SAHOâ€™s website is the largest of its kind and is updated weekly. It is visited by nearly three million unique users and approximately half a million people follow SAHO on Facebook, Twitter and our blog, History Matters.
SAHO through its comprehensive and innovative education outreach programme, over the last decade, been successfully implementing its objective of promoting new research; strengthening the teaching and learning of history in the classroom and in the history and humanities lecture rooms in the country and internationally.
SAHOâ€™s expanding archive of documents, journal articles, photographs and transcribed audio and video interviews is not only used extensively but is increasingly being cited in academic theses and journal articles. SAHO has become a model of how to reconfigure the Apartheid archives and to make the archived material accessible to the general public and researchers.
SAHOâ€™s conference, book publishing, exhibition, internship and international student exchange programmes, have strengthened its links and partnerships with universities and archives in Southern Africa, the United States of America and Canada.
Exhibition and Publication Programmes
Alongside its website, other than producing material for students and scholars, SAHO has an Exhibition and Publication programme, which is directed at creating a greater awareness of the importance history.
However, our most successful programme in popularising history and providing ordinary South Africans the space to tell their stories and participate in a public dialogue with our users is through the use of the new social media platforms. We are now averaging nearly 50,000 people who weekly visit our Facebook and Twitter pages, posting comments and reading or sharing our material.
This, and the fact that we received little over 2 million unique visitors in the last 12 months to our website, means that we are making a difference to how history and knowledge production is utilised in our new democracy.