Where can I find information about the first and second Boer Wars?
Image: Masterton's Boer War Contingent by [unknown]. Collection: Masterton District Council.
Entry last updated: 13/01/21
There were two Boer Wars, or Anglo-Boer Wars. The first Boer War of 1880-1881 has also been named the Transvaal Rebellion, as the Boers of the Transvaal revolted against the British annexation of 1877. The South African War (also known as the Second Anglo-Boer War) of 1899 - 1902 was the first overseas conflict to involve New Zealand troops. Fought between the British Empire and the Boer South African Republic (Transvaal) and its Orange Free State ally, it was the culmination of long-standing tensions in southern Africa.
There are many websites that have information on the two Boer Wars. Here are some we recommend that will help you with your search for causes, timeline, major battles, effects of this war and primary sources such as stories and photographs.
This site is from a large publisher of historical magazines. It includes special features, photo galleries and thousands of articles.
- Enter a keyword search for 'Boer War'.
- Select a link from the search results e.g Farmers at Arms.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.
Britannica is a global digital media company that promotes knowledge and learning. Their online encyclopedia is professionally managed by editors, media producers, content experts, and scholars.
- A simple keyword search 'Boer War' should bring up a range of information for you to choose from.
- The link South African War is a good place to start.
- The page has a handy contents list on the right if you need to jump to a topic of interest.
This video sharing website allows individuals and organisations to upload videos and make them available to people around the world.
- You can search using various keywords like 'Boer War' or 'Transvaal War' to look for information.
- We recommend videos from reliable organisations such as Khan Academy, BBC or Ted Talks.
- Documentaries, especially by History Channel are another good source of information.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is one of the oldest national broadcasting organisations. Their global network covers television, radio and online services.
- Enter 'Boer War' in the search box.
- We found three relevant BBC World Service podcasts, The Boer War 1899 - 1902, White Man's War and Methods of Barbarism.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it's better to leave out small words like the, a and of and just choose the main ones, eg Boer. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.
New Zealand websites
These websites explain New Zealand's involvement in the second Boer War.
This is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- You can search this website using the search box at the top of the page.
- Or scroll down the page to New Zealand at war and find information under the heading South African War.
- Make use of the Further information and Related to South African 'Boer' War sections to expand your knowledge of this topic.
- There are links to biographies of New Zealanders who fought in the war.
Tips: 'How to cite this page' found at the foot of this page is a good way of acknowledging the source of this information. You can use this in your bibliography if you need to list the websites you have used to research this topic.
This website also belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage and gives a good introduction to all New Zealand related matters, including history, society, culture and environment.
- Go to Stories A-Z.
- Choose the letter S.
- Select South African War.
EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this. You may need login details to access it.
This database has articles, journals and periodicals, multimedia, primary sources and other learning resources.
- Try a keyword search for 'Boer War' or 'Transvaal Rebellion'.
- Select a link from the search results eg Boer War or Transvaal Rebellion.
This is another EPIC database which provides an overview of world history, including the South African War. Britannica School has three levels to choose from. Its information comes from selected websites, multimedia, and magazine sources.
- Select a level, eg Secondary.
- Do a keyword search for 'Boer War' or 'South African War'.
- Select a link from the search results eg South African War.
- Move up or down a level if you need to.
Tips: To get to the EPIC databases you may need a password from your school librarian first. Or, you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday, and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.
There have been many books written on the Boer Wars. Check out your local public or school library to see what they have.
Some recommended titles are:
- The Boer War by Martin Bossenbroek and Yvette Rosenberg.
- To fight for the Empire: an illustrated history of New Zealand and the South African War, 1899-1902 by John Crawford and Ellen Ellis.
- One flag, one Queen, one tongue: New Zealand, the British Empire and the South African War by I C McGibbon and John Crawford.
- Teachers for South Africa : New Zealand women at the South African War concentration camps by Ellen Ellis and Sandra Coney.
- Soldier boy: a young New Zealander writes home from the Boer War by Henry George Gilbert and Kingsley Field.