The registered history collection of the McGregor Museum dates from 1951, although historical items were donated even earlier in the museum’s history.
In the 1960s the collection received a real boost through the energies of Dr and Mrs GA Fock, a trend encouraged by Dr Richard Liversidge.
In 1967 policy changed and the museum was no longer a natural history museum but a general museum, with the first professional historian being appointed in 1970.
The cultural collection consists of historical objects such as furniture, office equipment, photographic items, glassware, ceramics, silverware and other metals, gramophone records and sound systems, toys and dolls, numismatics including coins and commemorative medals and tokens and textiles including a large costume and costume accessories collection.
The costume collection covers the period from the 1850s – 1970s and is constantly growing with new additions.
The documents collection covers social, cultural, commercial, military, political, religious and genealogical aspects of the history of Kimberley and the Northern Cape, including the diamond diggings.
Some important acquisitions include the papers of FS Phillipson-Stow (formation of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd), FS Day, John Blades Currey, CD Rudd, George Beet, Freemasons, the Khu & Khwe, and the Estates of the Griqualand West Board of Executors.
The collection of militaria dates back to 1908 when siege relics were among the first items received by the museum. Collecting intensified with the development of the Magersfontein Battlefield Museum in the late 1960s.
The collection covers certain aspects of the Anglo-Boer War, namely the Western campaign and the Siege of Kimberley as well as the Kimberley Regiment with associated units.
Material from the two World Wars and early aviation includes ammunition, badges, buttons, documents, guns, field equipment, souvenirs, uniforms and firearms.
The photographic collection started in 1970 with the focus being on Kimberley and the Northern Cape. There are mining photographs, ones depicting early Kimberley and the development of the town, buildings, personalities and the social life of Kimberley.
The social life of Kimberley is represented by studies of weddings and other occasions as well as the venues where these took place.
The collection of Anglo-Boer War material focuses on the Western front and the Siege of Kimberley.
In addition to the general collection there are several important specialized ones. The Duggan-Cronin collection comprises the works of Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin and is in many ways unique both for its extent and subject matter. Nearly all the peoples of Southern Africa were photographed in their own surroundings between 1919 and 1939.
This department involves itself in the following:
- Oral history
- Contemporary history
- Temporary Displays
- Community and schools Projects
- Collaborative projects with the Robben Island Museum (Education Department and Heritage)
- Collaborative history projects with Frances Baard District Municipality, Tourism Authority Northern Cape and Sol Plaatje Municipality.
- Collaborative projects with Radio Teemaneng