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Catalogue of the Bessie Head Papers

The white house on the Museum grounds. Here are the Museum's offices and the two rooms devoted to document storage. Here is where researchers come to scrutinise the Papers. Questions? Write to the Museum here.
Bessie's original papers, some still in their original folders or containers. They are kept in a fireproof room in the Mueum, as shown. Access is for scholars with special requirements.

In this room are other papers of incalculable value — those of Khama III (the Great) and his renowned son Tshekedi.

The fireproof room was first built, in fact, to house the Khama papers. The Museum's first curator, Maria Rytter, has told the story of how both sets of papers were acquired.
Most of Bessie's papers have been photocopied for the public. Any researcher with a valid research plan may read them and photocopy them. The Museum charges no fee for these privileges. Over the years, dozens of Bessie students have come here.
Off and on for twenty years, Ruth Forchhammer worked at this desk, classifying every bit of paper from Bessie. She wrote out over 450 handwritten lists that were then typed by Okabeng Lefhoko, Patricia Bannalotlhe, and Kelly Golekwang. These lists form the heart of the new Catalogue.
Ruth Forchhammer, the Danish librarian who accompanied her husband Per Forchhammer to several different African countries, then fell in love with Botswana and stayed. She had taught typing and librarianship in Serowe before being recruited to the cataloging project. She tells part of the story in her Preface to the Catalogue. You can also see one of the 450 lists as it appears in the book. Try a sample page. It shows Bessie's correspondence with Vernon and Tineke Gibberd, notable neighbours at Swaneng.
The man who put ink to paper and paper into ring binders, Alex Ramatshogwana, of Nashua printers and photocopiers in Gaborone. He worked late two nights in a row to get the job done. Thank you, Alex!
Fruition! This is the two-volume set that Ruth finally brought home to Serowe on June 3rd, 2007. Only 27 copies were made, and two of these were put on deposit in Gaborone.
Ruth and Gasenone enjoy the thrill of seeing the new volumes — after so many years of working towards this day!

taken from the Publisher's Page of the Catalogue:


Khama III Memorial Museum
Private Bag 008
phone  (+267) 463 0519
fax      (+267) 463 1990
email   <>

To order either version of the Catalogue, please contact the Museum by one of the methods above. The cost at publication (2007) of the printed version is Botswana P800-00; the CD-ROM version is P600; and if ordered together, the combined price is P1000-00. All prices are exclusive of shipping.

If ordering from outside Botswana, we prefer that you pay directly into our account. Make electronic transfers payable to Khama III Memorial Museum, Barclays Bank, Serowe Branch, Botswana, with the following transfer numbers:

Swift Code             BARCBWGX
Acct Number          291467 – 1512684

The Management of the Khama III Memorial Museum would like to thank the following organisations and persons for assistance of many kinds over a period of more than 10 years. Were it not for their efforts, we would not have been able to bring this Catalogue to fruition.
Patricia Bannalotlhe
The Baring Foundation
Dandy Kopelang (CD-ROM)
Danish Voluntary Service
First Paper House / Antalis
Kelly Golekwang
Heinemann Botswana
Tom Holzinger
South African High Commission
Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke
Maria Rytter
Hans Christian Vorting
The Halton Readon Book Club of Burlington, Ontario: Blaine Adams, Micki and Jim Clements, Joyce Coggins, Bob Curry, Clare Henderson, Linda Hughes, Anne Katz, Pauline Laing, Barb Singleton, and Glenda Slessor, with additional support from Betty Jean Hutton and Betsy Bishop.

The cover portrait, probably taken in 1979, was donated by Sandy Grant, a longstanding friend of the Museum. The view of MmaSwaneng, the hill that overlooks Bessie's house, was photographed by Blaine Adams, a volunteer.

We thank Ruth Forchhammer, the compiler, and all of the above for a job well done. It has been a pleasure to see how our slow progress has finally culminated in these handsome books. We hope our friends, collaborators, and donors will be as proud of these volumes as we are.

 – Scobie Lekhutile, Curator
 – Gasenone Kediseng, Assistant Curator

The links on this page to related pages include:

The Bessie Head Room
The Origins of the Bessie Head Archive
Sample page from the Bessie Head Catalogue
Preface to the Bessie Head Catalogue
Publisher's Page from the Bessie Head Catalogue

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