Nelson Mandela archive, backed by Google, goes online


The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive was launched online March 27, 2012, from Johannesburg, South Africa. The collection of documents, photos and videos is available free to the public.

JOHANNESBURG — Thousands of documents, photos and videos about Nelson Mandela are being made available for free online in a new digital archive of the South African anti-apartheid hero's life.

The Google-funded collection, launched today, includes Mandela's letters to family, friends and comrades, and notes he made during negotiations to dismantle apartheid South Africa. 

The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive will eventually include never-before-seen drafts of a sequel to Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, as well as the earliest known photo of the former South African president and rare images of his cell on Robben Island.

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“This digital initiative will make it possible for us to reach the full spectrum of our stakeholders, from the global elite to systemically disadvantaged South Africans," said Verne Harris from the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory in Johannesburg.

Last year Google gave a $1.25 million grant to the center to help with the preservation and digitization of the collection.

Mandela, 93, has been in frail health in recent years, and hasn't appeared in public since 2010 when South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup.

He spent a night in hospital last month after undergoing a diagnostic procedure to investigate what was described as a long-standing abdominal complaint. Doctors said he was in no danger, and described him as being in fine condition for his age.

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