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Place of Interest Gauteng - Museum, Library

Jan Smuts House

Home to General Smuts for over 40 years - his life and the spirit of this great statesman can be seen here.

The Jan Smuts House Library houses books on international relations, politics, economics, history and other related disciplines. It has an extensive collection of journals and well-stocked reference and bibliographical shelves. The Development Information Centre (DIC), which is a partnership initiative of the World Bank, SAIIA and the Southern African Humanitarian Information Management Network (SAHIMS), was established as an extension to the library collection in 2006. The Centre is a one-stop access point to the latest knowledge and information on development worldwide.

An in-house database comprises information from periodical articles, searchable by subject. This reference tool, compiled over many years, has proved invaluable to students, researchers and librarians.

As one of only three libraries in South Africa enjoying UN depository status - the other two are the National Libraries in Pretoria and Cape Town – the Jan Smuts House Library has been able to build up a collection of United Nations periodicals, official records, conference proceedings, books and treaties. This section of the library is available to researchers, academics, business people, students and the general public.

The library also houses directories and indexes to facilitate information retrieval of United Nations documentation, reference works such as the United Nations Yearbooks, and a host of statistical data contained in the various specialised statistical yearbooks and periodicals. A separate but smaller collection is the documentation of the League of Nations, which, although not complete, contains useful information on the activities and decisions of the League during the period 1919 to the late 1930s.

In addition, the library has housed the Martin Edmonds Collection since 2004, which has more than 2,500 books on security-related issues. This collection was donated to SAIIA by Professor Martin Edmonds, Director of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies at Lancaster University, on his retirement.

The Jan Smuts House Library is a Reference Library, its material can only be consulted in the library and is not available on loan.

Jan Smuts the Leader:

Soldier, scholar, statesman and philosopher, General Jan Christiaan Smuts was one of South Africa's most remarkable leaders, an enigmatic and multifaceted person who was never fully understood by his countrymen.

But despite his fame and many talents, Smuts was at heart a simple man who yearned for peace and simplicity.

It was at Doornkloof, a modest wood-and-iron farmhouse in the veld outside the village of Irene, that he found the tranquillity he craved; a place where, surrounded by his many children and grandchildren, he could indulge his passionate interest in botany.

Doornkloof, now called Smuts House Museum, has been preserved for future generations as a living memorial to the man known to everyone as 'Oubaas', housing many relics and mementos that offer fascinating insights into his extraordinary career.

This picturesque village of Irene, with its deep green meadows and hay-scented air, slumbers in its own little time capsule, a peaceful haven that seems oddly out of place on the industrialised highveld.

The road out of the village to Doornkloof winds through deep-shaded avenues of plane trees, poplars and old oaks; after about 2 km, you come to the gates of Doornkloof, where you will catch a glimpse of the old house through the trees.

The first thing that strikes you as you walk up the steps into the high-ceilinged rooms is the simplicity of the furnishings. The unpretentiousness of the interior aptly illustrates General Smuts's utter disregard for luxury: his tastes were simple, verging on the austere.

When you have finished touring the house, take a few minutes to stroll around the garden, a natural park where the thousands of indigenous trees and shrubs planted by Smuts are still to be seen. A patch of lawn is the only concession to his stipulation that the veld should 'come right up to the front door'.

There is also a very pleasant tea-garden, where tables are set in the shade of tall trees.

A footpath leads from the garden to Smuts Koppie, the rocky hill behind the house where the ashes of Oubaas and Ouma Smuts are scattered; a granite obelisk has been erected here.

Location: Irene, Gauteng

Library hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 09:00 - 13:00 ; 14:00 - 17:00
Tuesday, Friday: 14:00 - 17:00

Tel: +27 12 667 1176

Gauteng.coms Visit:
Jan Smuts House is a pleasant cosy and small museum, and quite interesting. As a museum goes it is definitely not boring and gives very interesting information about Jam Smuts , his wife and the community around. Set in a tranquill area, the small children (who did not really appreciate it) enjoyed the feedom of running aroun on the lawns. For a bit of history, a bit of culture and history this is good value for money. The tea garden out side provides light lunches / snacks and drinks while the kids are free to roam on the large grounds in saftey. From Cornwall side Follow Nellmapius road towards Irene, turning left just before the bridge and follow the road pasing the house on the left, parking behind. There is and estate being built in front and this has a big entrance. Keep to the main road and follow the sign posts.

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