How to look for Boer War records

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Visit us in Kew

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

Pay for research

This is a brief guide to researching the wide-ranging and scattered military records of the Second Boer War created by the British government.

The guide provides a broad overview of the main sources of information that exist on the subject of the Boer War itself, as opposed to records of the soldiers who fought in the conflict. To look for records of a person involved in the Boer, or South African, war please see our research guide on British Army Soldiers up to 1913.

Many famous people, including Winston Churchill, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Baden-Powell and Mahatma Gandhi all served in the Second Boer War. To find out more about a notable person, please refer to our guide on researching famous people.

What do I need to know before I start?

Two separate Boer Wars were fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states. The war commonly known as the ‘Boer War’ is the second Boer War 1899-1902.There is likely to be some overlap between separate departments on any given subject. For example, a decision made during the Boer War may have been informed by the Foreign Office (FO), discussed by the Prime Minister (PREM) and then carried out by the army (WO) and Navy (ADM).

What records can I see online?

There are no significant collections of records on the subject of the Boer War online.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

Cabinet papers (1899-1902)

Browse Discovery, our catalogue, for records of the Cabinet Office for the period around and during the Second Boer War for documents concerning decisions and discussions before, during, and after the war in record series CAB 37.

General correspondence (1899-1902)

Browse our catalogue for War Office, Foreign Office and Dominion Office correspondence relating to the Second Boer War in record series WO 32, WO 105, WO 108, FO 2, DO 117 and DO 119.

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Records held elsewhere

Search our catalogue and refine your results using the filters.

What other resources will help me find information?


Read Army Records by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2008).


Search The Times Archive and the Guardian and Observer Digital Archive to view articles (£) about the Boer War.

Consult Boer War source notes on Your Archives for more information on records held at The National Archives.