1887

n South African Journal of Cultural History - An unusual document of the Anglo-Boer War - the visitors' book of the Transvaal Hotel in Pretoria

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Abstract

This contribution emphasises at the value historians should place on "unusual" sources in their research. The Annales School of France has taught us the importance of adopting a broader outlook on other possible sources than merely the obvious such as official government documents and private diaries and letters.


The visitors' book of the Transvaal Hotel in Pretoria during and after the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 proves the value of such "unusual" documents.
The historical value of the book is priceless. It contains the signatures of not only distinguished figures such as Winston Churchill, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Leo Amery, but also war correspondents and British generals, such as John Brocklehurst, Edward Brabant, Horace Smith-Dorrien and Herbert Plumer, and Boer generals such as Christiaan de Wet, Louis Botha and Barry Hertzog, and Acting President Schalk Burger of the Transvaal. Many more men and women (but mostly men) who were famous or were to become famous in the twentieth century stayed at the hotel. It is almost a "Who's Who" of the Anglo-Boer War.
As such there is a definite antiquarian value to the book. But what makes it historically more important is that the stay of some of these visitors is sometimes linked to important events during the war. In some instances it assists the historian in ascertaining the whereabouts of historical figures at a given moment.
It is the author's contention that historians should be aware of the fact that "unusual" documents can assist them in their research.


Dié bydrae ondersoek die waarde van "ongewone" dokumente vir historiese navorsing. Die Annalesskool van Frankryk het historici die belangrikheid geleer om 'n breër uitkyk op ander moontlike bronne as die voor die hand liggende dokumente soos amptelike regeringsdokumente en private dagboeke en briewe te hê.
Die besoekersboek van die Transvaal Hotel in Pretoria gedurende en ná die Anglo-Boereoorlog van 1899-1902 bewys die waarde van sodanige "ongewone" dokumente.
Die historiese waarde van die boek is onskatbaar. Dit bevat die handtekeninge van nie slegs vooraanstaande persone soos Winston Churchill, sir Arthur Conan Doyle en Leo Amery nie, maar ook oorlogskorrespondente en Britse generaals, soos John Brocklehurst, Edward Brabant, Horace Smith-Dorrien en Herbert Plumer, en Boeregeneraals soos Christiaan de Wet, Louis Botha en Barry Hertzog, asook Waarnemende President Schalk Burger van Transvaal. Talle ander mans en vroue (maar hoofsaaklik mans) wat beroemd was of in die twintigste eeu roem sou verwerf, het in die hotel tuisgegaan. Die boek is bykans 'n "Who's Who" van die Anglo-Boereoorlog.
As sodanig besit die boek beslis antikwariese waarde. Wat dit egter histories belangriker maak, is dat die verblyf van party van hierdie besoekers in sommige gevalle met belangrike momente in die oorlog verbind word. In party gevalle stel dit die historikus in staat om die plek vas te stel waar 'n historiese figuur hom op 'n gegewe oomblik bevind het.
Dit is die skrywer se oortuiging dat historici bewus daarvan moet wees dat "ongewone" dokumente hulle in hulle navorsing behulpsaam kan wees.

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/content/culture/27/1/EJC138867
2013-01-01
2016-12-07
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