Jean van der Poel dies in Cape Town.

Her best known work Image source

Sunday, 3 August 1986

Jean Van der Poel was a historian and teacher who played an important role in the South African Teachers' Associtation and undertook several major historical projects.

Born in Cape Town in 1904, Van der Poel began her studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT), completing her doctorate at the London School Of Economics. Her doctorate, on railways and customs policies, was awarded magnum cum laude and won her the Royal Empire Society prize.

In 1929 Van der Poel returned to South Africa and declined a position at UCT as lecturer for a post as history teacher. She played a very important role in the South African Teacher's Association, but in 1938 decided to move to UCT. She became a senior lecturer in 1954 and was offered the King George V chair of history in the 1960s, which she declined. She retired in 1969.

Van der Poel's best-known works were on the British role in the Jameson Raid and on General Smuts. She died in 1986.

Selected publications:

W.K. Hancock and Jean Van Der Poel (eds.) Selections from the Smuts papers, 7 volumes (Cambridge [Eng.]: At the University Press, 1966-1973).

Jean van der Poel, The Jameson Raid (Cape Town : New York Oxford University Press, 1951).

Jean van der Poel, 'Native Education in South Africa', Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 34, No. 136 (Jul., 1935), pp. 313-331.

Jean van der Poel, 'Education and the native', "Paper read at the Conference of South African Teachers' Association at Cape Town, on June 28th, 1934 (S. Griffiths: Cape Town, 1934).


  1. E.J. Verwey (ed). New dictionary of South African biography. Pretoria. HSRC Press: Pretoria, 1995 pp. 252-253.

Last updated : 31-Jul-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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