Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

The TEPC Transcription Project

Posted by tahirfarrath on May 6, 2012


The acronym TEPC stands for Transcription of Estate Papers at the Cape of Good Hope. It is a joint project of the Universities of the Western Cape and Cape Town in partnership with the Cape Town Archives Repository and the National Archives at The Hague with the overall goal of equitable access to significant archival resources associated with the history of the Cape.

The TEPC project (2004-2008) was funded by the Dutch Government through the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, and supported by the Consulate-General in Cape Town. The database is hosted by the Nationaal Archief (Den Haag) and made available on the TANAP website, where you will also find transcriptions of the Resolutions of the Cape of Good Hope.

The TEPC Project is a partnership of the Universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape , the Cape Archives and the National Archives of the Netherlands, funded by the Dutch government. It follows the successful TANAP project that digitized.

An expert team of transcribers and editors have worked in the Archives for the past year, transcribing inventories from the Orphan Chamber records (1690s to 1830s). These valuable records provide a window into what people owned, bought, sold and valued at the Cape , and help us trace the history of households and individuals including slaves.

The fragile original hand-written documents are transformed into digitized versions which are put on the internet, giving easy access to local and international researchers. The transcriptions are accompanied by an introduction, an index of names, dates and references, and a bilingual glossary.

TEPC Database: Ownership and Access

The agreement signed between the TEPC Project funders (Government of the Netherlands) and administrators (University of Cape Town) refers to issues of ownership and access to the information produced by the project.

The first Phase of the project saw the transcription of selected papers from the Orphan Chamber (Weeskamer) at the Cape. These comprised inventories of deceased estates dating to between c 1690 and 1834 (MOOC8). Five volumes of associated documents, the auction lists (vendurollen) of the same deceased estates, were also transcribed and the whole vendurol series (MOOC10) was indexed. In 2005 a series of public workshops showed what these fascinating documents contained and explored how they could be used and developed by different groups.

The second Phase culminated in an international conference, held in Cape Town in December 2006. It was organized jointly with an academic research project of the Universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape. Participants were invited from Europe and Asia – around the Indian Ocean – to forge links between South African, Asian and Dutch scholars working in the fields of social history, historical archaeology and material culture studies. The proceedings of the conference were published in N. Worden (ed.), Contingent Lives: Social Identity and Material Culture in the VOC World (Historical Studies Department, University of Cape Town, 2008) and some papers were published in the academic journals Kronos (33) 2007 and South African Historical Journal (59) 2007.

The third Phase saw the transcription of a series of Court of Justice volumes dealing with prisoners and convicts sent to the Cape from the East Indies (bandietenrollen), and lists of VOC employees and residents at the Cape from 1656 until 1789. To complement the transcribed and indexed Orphan Chamber records, the TEPC Team made a catalogue of a variety of unbound private papers annexed to the Distribution and Liquidation Accounts of deceased estates (MOOC14).

Cape Transcripts on CD

The Orphan Chamber transcriptions are hosted on the TANAP website and can be searched and downloaded from there. For local researchers, the following transcriptions, indexes and associated resources have been produced as a CD:

1. Inventories, Auction Lists and Estate Accounts



1.1 Inventories

MOOC8/1-75 (75 volumes)

Bilingual List to the Inventories (Dutch and English)

Transcribing the Inventories – a personal experience

Table of women whose deaths were childbirth-related

The Orphan Chamber – a visit


1.2 Auction Lists

MOOC10/1-5 (5 volumes)

MOOC10/6-46: Indexed


1.3 Estate Accounts

MOOC14/1-85: Indexed

Häszner’s Medical Home Manual


2. “Bandietenrollen”



CJ3186-CJ3192A (8 volumes)

CJ 2562-CJ 2568 (7 volumes)


3. VOC Muster Rolls



VC39/2-VC48 (11 volumes)

NA12537-12653 (7 volumes)


Buying the Guidebooks and CDs

The Guidebooks can be ordered through Antonia Malan at or

The CDs can be ordered through Helena Liebenberg at or tel. 021- 949 2736.

The MOOC manuscripts are unique, in that no copies were sent to VOC headquarters, and they are detailed records of South African families and their fixed and moveable properties – including slaves. The documents are hand-written in Dutch (and ‘Cape Dutch’), which is difficult for most researchers to read or understand, and in a vulnerable condition from over-use.


Two reader-friendly guidebooks (‘Household Inventories at the Cape’ and ‘Slaves at the Cape ‘) and a CD (with the data, bilingual list of terms and introduction to the project) are now available . These will be of interest to people involved in the classroom, in museums and in heritage tourism, as well as archivists and researchers.

‘Households at the Cape : a beginners guide to research’

by Carohn Cornell & Antonia Malan

“If you want to explore Cape households of the 17 th, 18 th and early 19 th century, this book is for you. Do you want to find out about old houses and farmyards and the objects in each room? Are you interested in family life or the relationships between slaves and their owners? Do you want to trace your ancestors? Are you curious about how people made a living or what they wore?

This book will guide you through how to begin your research and how to find related sources. It also tells you how many other people – community researchers, archivists, writers, historians, archaeologists and genealogists – have discovered stories about people and places at the Cape. Even if you are already an experienced researcher, we hope that the guide offers you something of interest.”

Buying the books and CD. Special price if you buy them direct from the Cash Office, in the lobby of the Cape Archives Repository, Roeland Street , Cape Town . Opening times 08h00-15h45 from Monday to Friday. Easy parking right outside. The books cost R80 and the CD costs R70. CASH ONLY PLEASE.

If you cannot visit the Archives, contact Clarke’s Bookshop, Long Street, or make a special arrangement with Antonia Malan (; Tel: (021) 650 2358).

Information about the TEPC Project:

TEPC website:

TANAP website: ies/events


Tel: (021) 650 2358; Fax (021) 650 2352

February 2006


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