This site began quite by accident in 1996 whilst I was experimenting with HTML. As a student of the South African War, I was aware of the significant lack of WWW resources on this period. Research for my dissertation and a passionate interest in this fascinating era combined and the South African War Virtual Library was born.
As I stated on the front page: this site is not a celebration of war or of martial endeavour. War is a manifestation of much that is repulsive about our species. The experience of war, however, often highlights the extraordinary resilience, Contemporary photo of newspaper boy with third edition headlines reading Relief of Ladysmith Official Despatch Dundonald enters the town bravery and sacrifice of the latter, willing and otherwise. This site, wherever possible, will attempt to lend itself to exploration of these ‘moments’. Whilst it stands that a number of wars have been fought in order to overthrow oppressive national and imperial regimes, I have always believed (perhaps naïvely) that sincere diplomacy and pragmatic compromise are commonly more constructive options than even the most minor bloodshed.
It is probably a little perilous for me to delve too deeply into the historiography of the period, however, I feel I should at least define my position as regards the writing of history on the South African War. For the most part I tend toward the subtle revisionism of Sir Thomas Pakenham as found in his The Boer War. That is to say, I don’t share entirely the view of the great majority of historians of Sir Redvers Buller, I am constantly astounded by the time it has taken to even begin to remedy the virtually wholesale omission of women and Black peoples from histories of the war, the widespread ignorance of their experience in concentration camps and the nonsensical notion of the war as ‘a White man’s war’.
This site is not intended to be a definitive historical account of the South African War, but rather an archive of easily accessible material concerning the unfortunate period between 1899 and 1902.
Please feel free to use the material on the site for research (within legal guidelines of course). I believe that it all lies in the Public Domain. All copyrighted material has been referenced according to proper guidelines, however, if you find any material on the site that you think contravenes copyright in the manner of its presentation or referencing, please contact me and I will take the appropriate action immediately. If you are unsure as to the current Internet citation guidelines, please go here.
For those of you interested in a Liberal Education, but wondering at its relevance, please read the following short essay, What is a Liberal Education?
If you have a site to which you would like the SAWVL to link, please use go to the Links Page.
All comments, suggestions and recommendations are welcome. Please use the Contact links throughout the site to send me any detailed enquiries or requests for links. I’ll endeavour to help you as best I can. Please note however, that this site is my hobby and not my job, so I am limited in the extent to which I can spend time answering questions. Also, I do not do research (especially of a genealogical nature) for free, under any circumstances.
I hope you enjoy this site as much as I enjoy creating it.