Queensland soldiers in the South African War

Portraits of Queensland soldiers who fought in the South African War (1899-1902), often known as the Boer War, were published in the weekly newspaper The Queenslander, often just prior to their departure for South Africa. For family historians, and anyone interested in researching this conflict,  finding these portraits has now become easier.

Captain Charles George Gehrmann

An index of just under 3000 soldiers is now searchable through One Search, the library catalogue  and links directly through to the digitised page of the newspaper on which the portrait appears. As well as the photographs, sometimes information about the next of kin of the soldier was published in the newspaper, which can provide valuable information for family history researchers.

Officers of the 4th Queensland Contingent, returned from the Boer War, 1901

This index is one of many that staff and hard working volunteers have created to provide simpler access to some of the library's resources. You can find more in the Family History indexes on the catalogue or on the Family History resources pages of the SLQ website.

Do you have a Boer War soldier in your family? We'd love to hear your stories of finding their portrait in The Queenslander.


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Thank you to all the volunteers and dedicated library and archives staff who enable those of us outside of the areas our ancestors lived in or who live outside Canberra and the major capital cities to still be able to access vital family history records. The only photograph I have found of our ancestor John Charles Marden is of his portrait before he went to the Boer War in 1902. We are still trying to uncover whether he returned from South Africa as all traces of him in Australia (including states and territories, unless he assumed an alias) simply stop from that point onwards. We would have even less of him had it not been for the State Library of Queensland. Huge thanks, Karen

You are most welcome Karen. Our work with the soldier portraits form the South African War and the First World War has been a significant project, but we are thrilled with the responses from people such as yourself, who have been able to locate family members and often see, for the firt time, their portraits. Kind regardsMargaret WarrenCoordinator, Discovery services

Hi Karen and Margaret, I found what I think is a portrait of my partner's great-uncle James Hamilton in the Queenslander (SN151). Like Karen's ancestor, James Hamilton didn't return from South Africa immediately after the Boer War. We were wondering why, so I did some research. It seems servicemen from the colonies were offered land in South Africa by the British government after the Boer War. James stayed in South Africa and joined South African forces to fight in the 1st World War. He returned to Australia after WW1. It's quite possible John Charles Marsden stayed on in South Africa and this is why there is no trace of him in Australia after the Boer war.