The Gold Fields Collection was presented to Rhodes University for the Cory Library by Gold Fields of South Africa Ltd.
This collection was assembled from 1944 onwards by the firm as a Rhodes Memorial Library and Museum. The Library was established to cover the history and traditions of the Company and its subsidiaries, successors to the original Rhodes, Rudd and Caldecott Syndicate, with special reference to Cecil John Rhodes.
The establishment took place as the Company was nearing its 60th Anniversary and Mr F.C.M. Bawden who was charge of the Library from the early days until his death in 1968, was able to build up the collection both by purchase and by assembling materials in the records of Gold Fields and its subsidiaries.
The first deposit of the Gold Fields Collection was presented to Rhodes University for the Cory Library by Gold Fields of South Africa Ltd in 1976. The initial negotiation for the collection to be deposited at Rhodes University was done by the Rhodes University Chancellor, Dr William John Busschau, a former Chairman of Gold Fields of South Africa Ltd.
In the intervening years, further items have been sent to the Cory Library from time to time to be added to the original collection. This includes the archives from Gold Fields Zimbabwe, Bulawayo office. The records were transferred to the Cory Library in 1984 after the closure of the Bulawayo office. Subsequent deposits of Gold Fields includes the South African records of Gold Fields of South Africa Ltd held by Consolidated Gold Fields in London.
The Gold Fields Collection consists of documents, manuscripts, maps, plans, memorabilia, photographs, pamphlets and a small collection of related artefacts relating to the foundation and early days of Gold Fields. The manuscripts consist of material relating to the history of Gold Fields and its subsidiaries, official records, notes, letter-books of the companies, with a certain amount of private correspondence, including letters from Cecil John Rhodes, CD Rudd, EJ Birkenruth, Olive Schreiner and Rudyard Kipling. There is a large collection of photographs, mainly of mines, equipment, mining people and Rhodes himself. The book collection includes works on Cecil John Rhodes, history of the Transvaal, Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and other areas where Rhodes or Gold Fields had interests.
The Gold Fields Collection represents the most complete collection of manuscripts, and documents, reflecting the mining, financial and economic history of South Africa. It also covers the inter-war and post-World War II years and gives insight into the impact of the recession of that period on the South African economy.