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).
There are no significant collections of records on the subject of the Boer War online.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
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 (£).
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.
Records in other archives and organisations
Records held elsewhere
The National Archives’ catalogue contains collections and contact details of local archives around the UK and beyond. To locate these records, search our catalogue with keywords and refine your results to ‘Other archives’ using the filters.