The roots of the South African Society for History Teaching lie in the Historical Association of South Africa (HASA), which was founded in Pretoria in 1956. It promoted history among primary and secondary school pupils and their teachers, as well as academic historians.
In 1981, it launched Yesterday & Today as its journal for reaching schools. At the same time interest was growing among teachers’ college and university faculties of Education for an organisation for the teaching of history and its didactics.
Following a preparatory conference of those interested in 1985, the initial conference of the Society for the training of History Teachers was held at the Rand Afrikaans University in October 1986. Yesterday & Today became the journal of this society, which changed its name to the South African Society for History Teaching at its second conference, at Stellenbosch University in 1988.
The basic activities of the SASHT were the publication of Yesterday & Today and the organising of a bi-annual conference, which became annual after 2005. Regional workshops have also been organized from time to time. The purpose of the Society from its inception was to:
- improve contacts between educators of training at tertiary level with teachers in the broad educational field;
- renew training in the didactics/methodology of history education;
- utilise the expertise of educators teaching history to assist with the training of future history teachers;
- debate continuously the content of basic and advanced educational programmes in the training of history teachers with the intention to continue to improve quality;
- make history educators and student teachers aware of the relation between history as academic discipline and the didactics/methodology of teaching history at school level to keep abreast with development and academic debates;
- encourage educators of history to strive towards achieving and sustaining high academic standards in the teaching methodology and approach towards, amongst others, controversial topics; and
- make educators of history and student teachers in history aware of the relevance/value of History for the existence of communities and nations in general.
In 2006 Yesterday & Today was revived with funds initially made available by North-West University (NWU), after having been in limbo since 1998. It is on the Department of Higher Education and Training List of Approved South African Journals.