Boer War Lantern Slides

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Afr. s. 2329
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 box The slides measure 9cm square and are housed in five original boxes, each containing eight slides. Slides 17 and 32 are cracked and in slide 40 the glass layer has become detached from the picture layer.

Scope and Content

Forty coloured lantern slides of The Boer War of 1900.

Administrative / Biographical History

The South African War (Boer War), 1899-1902 had its originsin the rivalry between Dutch Afrikaner (Boer) andBritish settlers in southern Africa which led by themiddle of the 19th century to the emergence of fourseparate colonial territories - Cape Colony andNatal, under British rule, and Orange Free Stateand the South African Republic (later Transvaal),under Afrikaner control. Despite British refusal toofficially recognise the Boer states, and the Boers'unwillingness to join a wider, Cape-governedFederation of South Africa, the four states managedan uneasy co-existence, though it was this basicdifference of outlook and politics which was theeventual cause of the war.

From the outset, the co-existence of the two sideswas often threatened. A British annexation of theTransvaal in 1877 led to their decisive defeat at thehands of Boer forces at the Battle of Majuba Hill in1881. There were minor conflicts in the 1880s and1890s over neighbouring Bechuanaland, andinfluence over the Ndebele to the north. Gold wasdiscovered in both the Boer republics, increasingtheir a ttraction to the British; and it was theperceived mistreatment of British residents in theTransvaal (many of them goldminers) which led tothe ill-fated Jameson Raid on the Transvaal in 1897.It was an increasing nationalism on both sides,though, which helped spark a declaration of war on11th October 1899.

It was the Boers who launched the initial offensives -against Mafeking, Kimberley, Natal and EasternCape, using Bloemfontein as a focal point, but, afterlengthy sieges of Ladysmith, Mafeking, etc., theyeventually surrendered their advantage. The Britishrelieved the besieged towns, then tookBloemfontein on 13th March 1900, and Pretoria inJune. At this point, the British themselves allowedthe Boers to regroup and change tactics, mountingan effective guerilla war. This the British counteredby the use of a scorched earth policy, the initiationof a concentration camp system, etc.. Eventually,the Boers were forced to concede defeat and on31st May 1902 a peace treaty was signed atVereeniging, removing the independence of theBoer territories.


  • Box I - The Boer Invasion of Natal
  • Box II - The Siege of Ladysmith
  • Box III - The Relief of Kimberley, with lecture notes
  • Box IV - Surrender of Cronje & occupation of Bloemfontein, with lecture notes
  • Box V - Relief of Mafeking and entry into Pretoria, with lecture notes

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Bodleian reader's ticket required.


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

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