Johannesburg by the year

This small handbook was literally a pocket filler. It was an annual Johannesburg City publication Vade-Mecum. The meaning of the word, Vade-Mecum, is the Latin expression "go with me". It is a small slender volume issued by the City Treasurer's Department and by 1949 was in its 19th edition. What a contrast to current glossy city reports and promotional books.

An interesting collection of Johannesburg, Transvaal and South African printed photographic albums has recently come to light*. Kathy Munro was lucky enough to be able to photograph over four hundred images from the various albums including some from an 1892 volume on Johannesburg produced by the Davies Brothers. A few of these early images along with notes from Munro have been reproduced in the article below. 

Most commentaries on Johannesburg of the decade of the thirties takes 1936 and the city's fiftieth birthday as the year for reflection and anticipation. See, for example, the Star Newspaper's popular history, Like it Was. Johannesburg A Sunshine City Built on Gold (1931) is an unusual publication that takes us back to the start of the decade to discover Johannesburg.

 

A while back we spent a few hours paging through the 1904 Minutes of the Johannesburg Town Council (still a town at that stage). It was a remarkable experience travelling back in time and imagining what life was like for people from all walks of life when Joburg was still a teenager. Below is a short selection of some ordinary and extraordinary events from 1904.

A Smallpox Scare

This fascinating piece was compiled by Janet Lee in 1993. She turned back the clock one hundred years to describe what life was like in Johannesburg in 1893. The article first appeared in the Johannesburg Historical Foundation’s journal Between the Chains.

Here is an interesting photographic souvenir and important record of early Johannesburg. The title is "South African Goldfields Panoramic and Other Views of Johannesburg, 1889". This small booklet is a rare item as it was published just three years after the start of the town and its mining camp origins. It came to me together with a second little booklet, called  "Johannesburg, Golden Centre of South Africa ", also dated 1889, by Charles Cowen.

Subscribe to Johannesburg by the year