University of The Free State History Department

By | December 29, 2021

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University of The Free State History Department

University of The Free State History Department, The Department of History at the University of the Free State (UFS) is one of the university’s oldest departments. It was established in 1905, only a year after the university was founded.


Adriaan Francken, originally from the Netherlands, was the first History lecturer – albeit that, from 1905 until 1910, he also had to teach Dutch, English, French, and German! In 1926, Dr SP Barnard became the university’s first Professor of History; and in 1941 he was succeeded by Prof CJ Uys.

In the course of the rest of the twentieth century, Prof JJ Oberholster, Prof MCE (“Tienie”) van Schoor, Prof Hennie Marais, Prof Johan Moll, and Prof Leo Barnard successively served as heads of the Department of History. The present Departmental Chairperson, Prof André Wessels, took over the reins in 2006.

The department’s staff as well as its students reflect the cultural diversity of the broader South African community.

The Department of History is also one of the strongest research departments at the UFS. It has an impressive research track record spanning a period of many years (with a concomitant postgraduate supervision record). The current fields of research include;

  • the post-1948 political history of South Africa; oral history;
  • South African military history (with special reference to the Anglo-Boer War and the South African National Defence Force, including, in particular, the South African Navy);
  • women and their stories in the context of conflict and violence;
  • South African film history; and
  • other aspects of South Africa’s cultural history and heritage.
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Contact Details:

Head of Department:
Prof André Wesssels
+27 51 401 2488

Mrs Ina Malan
+27 51 401 2330