Photographs of St. Helena, 1902

Scope and Content

Black and white photographs (mounted) of St. Helena, one showing Jamestown,one of prisoners of war marching through Jamestown, and one of the prisonerof war camp at Broad Bottom, 1902.

Administrative / Biographical History

St. Helena was used by the British as a prisoner of war camp during theSouth African War of 1899-1902.

The South African War had its origins in the rivalry between DutchAfrikaner and British settlers in southern Africa which led by 1880 to the emergence oftwo separate colonial states - Cape Colony, under British control, and theAfrikaner (Boer) republic of Transvaal, under President Paul Kruger. Despiteminor conflicts in the 1880s and 1890s over neighbouringBechuanaland, the Ndebele, and the treatment of British residents in theTransvaal (which led to the ill-fated Jameson Raid of 1897), etc., the twostates managed an uneasy co-existence. However, increasing nationalism onboth sides, among various other causes, led to a declaration of war on 11th October 1899.

The Boers launched initial offensives against Mafeking, Kimberley, Nataland Eastern Cape, but, after lengthy sieges of Mafeking, Kimberley, Ladysmith,etc., eventually surrendered their advantage. The British relieved the besiegedtowns, then took Bloemfonteinon 13th March 1900, and Pretoria in June. At thispoint, the British allowed the Boers to regroup and change tactics, mountingan effective guerilla war which the British in turn countered with a scorchedearth policy and the initiation of a concentration camp system. Eventually,the Boers were forced to concede defeat and on 31st May 1902 a peace treatywas signed, removing all independence from the Boer territories.

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Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

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Geographical Names