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“Jacobsens” Index of Objectionable Literature
Jacobsens Publishers
Artwork 1956–1991
Artwork: Jacobsens Publishers, “Jacobsens” Index of Objectionable Literature (1956–1991). Loose-leaf sheets in hardcover binding. 31 x 22.2 x 5.2 cm. Courtesy of Stellenbosch University Library.
Artist Jacobsens Publishers Title "Jacobsens" Index of Objectionable Literature Date 1956–1991 Materials Loose-leaf sheets in hardcover binding Dimensions 31 x 22.2 x 5.2 cm Credit Courtesy of Stellenbosch University Library

An unofficial, loose-leafed publication, the "Jacobsens" Index listed printed matter banned each month in accordance with the apartheid-era Government Gazette. It was used primarily by librarians and booksellers to ensure no illicit materials made it onto their bookshelves. Those books found guilty of "offensive intermingling", "loose morals" and "subversive propaganda", while removed from public circulation, found unlikely company in the pages of "Jacobsens", from anti-apartheid flyers to a manual on Czechoslovakian sewerage systems. "It was, in a sense, the Book of Books, whose word is set up against that of others,” said Nadine Gordimer, describing it as the "bible of censorship in South Africa.” Photographers listed in the Index include Ernest Cole, Omar Badsha, Peter Magubane, and Eli Weinberg, all represented in the exhibition Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! at A4, in which this publication was featured.