Please note that a majority of materials in our online collections come from colonial archives. As such, many of them perpetuate colonial narratives and ways of thinking. Please bear in mind that some content may be exploitative and dehumanizing. We have made these collections accessible not as a way of legitimizing or perpetuating these worldviews, but as a form of exposing these histories and inviting Namibians of all heritages to take stock and come to terms with the contexts in which we found ourselves.

The Scientific Society Swakopmund uses the Past Perfect Online database to provide searchable access to parts of its collections. The collections are organized into catalogues (Archives, Photos, Library, and Objects) that allow you to search and, in some cases, view a large part of our extensive library, special collections and photographs. Follow the instructions and links below to get started.

Please note that there might be errors and mistakes and we kindly ask you to bear with us and also to help us to improve by sending an email with your comments to Some records have German titles and details which will be translated into English in due time.

Please do not publish or share our photos without permission, as they may be under copyright.


The Sam Cohen Reference Library has an extensive variety of special collections, consisting of primary source archival documents, including rare and unique published materials relating to Namibia. These documents include correspondence, diaries, photographs, newspapers, yearbooks, maps and much more, representing the activity of Namibian families, schools, churches, clubs and organizations, communities, businesses and individuals. The majority of this collection has been digitized, of which over half can be viewed via the Past Perfect program.


Our extensive collection of photography depicts places and people in Namibia over the last 150 years. It consists of prints, snapshots and slides (of which around 32 000 have been digitized). To request an image for personal or academic use, please contact our librarian or click “Request Image” to complete an order form. If you require more than 5 images, kindly email us instead of requesting the images individually.


Discover books and other secondary sources available in the Sam Cohen Reference Library. We have a very wide range of books but focus on local and regional history, genealogy, biographies and natural sciences. Our Library Catalogue is being updated but is not yet complete. Information of about 10 700 books is detailed in our database, of which about 3000 titles are shared online.


The Swakopmund Museum artifact collection consists of over 10,000 objects, encompassing the history of our county from the pre-colonial era to the present day, as well as large natural collections. These include textiles, household goods, toys and recreational items, weapons, agricultural and industrial tools, furniture and decorative arts, minerals, animal and plant material and many other items, which help to tell the story of everyday life in Namibia during the last 150 years and provide insight into natural sciences. Some objects are included in the Past Perfect Catalogue but due to the limited number of records available online, these are not shared.

Search Tips for our online collections:

Click the fields in the left list:

Keyword Search – allows you to find items related to a specific word or phrase.

Archives, Photos, Libraries, Objects – leads you directly to one of the catalogues.

To search across all collections (archives, photos and library) select keyword search or advanced search in the side menu bar.

If you are looking for a certain type of material, use the catalogue-specific links above to narrow your results.

Note: the search function in Past Perfect is not as sophisticated as Google, so try to keep to one or two words in the search box. When using a phrase, place it in quotation marks to avoid unrelated results. For example: typing the words Swakopmund Museum will return results that include either word, not both together (so results for the keyword “Swakopmund” as well as the keyword “Museum” will be included). Instead, type “Swakopmund Museum” in quotations, and the search will return only results that include both words, in that order.