My research focuses on the construction of a bureaucratic system of control that developed in the 1940s for the purpose of administering social pensions to black South Africans. The project considers the context and conditions that led to the inclusion of elderly black South Africans in the state pension system in 1944 and the history of relevant welfare policies and state bureaucratic and administrative practices in the years immediately before this reform (from ca. 1936) and explores the materiality of the documentary system that was subsequently developed to identify and monitor black South Africans. The social pension system of the mid-twentieth century was built upon and relied heavily on the involved and often invasive documentation of its recipients. It attempted the registration of social pensioners on a large scale and was one in which the ‘identities’ of its recipients materialised through (and were reduced to) at first, paper forms and documentation, and later, metallic identity discs. With this research I hope to explore the significance and lingering reach of this system and assess to what extent it, along with other historical prototypes, acted as an entryway or blueprint for the insidious social control that became so characteristic of the apartheid state.