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Nelson Mandela archive gets $1.25m from Google

Google is to help put thousands of historic documents from Nelson Mandela’s personal archive online, with the announcement of a $1.25 million grant to finance an online portal documenting the former South African president's life.

The search giant's donation has been made to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, housed at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, to help to preserve documents, photographs and audio-visual materials about the former South African president’s life.

Google’s cash will assist assist the centre to expand its online Mandela archive, making the collection available to a global audience of scholars and researchers.

The online archive will include correspondence between Mandela and his family and friends, as well as prison diaries, and the notes he made while leading the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.

“We are delighted that Google has come on board to help ensure that our Mandela Portal becomes a world-class source of accurate and reliable information about Madiba,” said Verne Harris, head of the Centre of Memory.

Through its Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation, Google also made a similar-sized grant to the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, to help digitise the archives of human rights activist Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Commenting on the initiative, Luke Mckend, Country Manager for Google South Africa said, “Google wants to help bring the world’s historical heritage online, and the Internet offers new ways to preserve and share this information.”