Title: Frederick Russell Burnham papers
Date (inclusive): 1879-1979
Collection Number: 78082
Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Material:
8 manuscript boxes, 24 envelopes, 1 album box
(4.8 linear feet)
Correspondence, speeches and writings, clippings, other printed matter, photographs, and memorabilia, relating to the Matabele
Wars of 1893 and 1896 in Rhodesia, the Boer War, exploration expeditions in Africa, and gold mining in Alaska duing the Klondike
Hoover Institution Archives
Burnham, Frederick Russell, 1861-1947.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
[Identification of item], Frederick Russell Burnham papers, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.
Born in the USA Burnham was brought up in California. He received a limited formal education but in the course of his early
working life in the Western USA he acquired a knowledge of mining, particularly gold mining. From 1893 to 1897 he was in present-day
Zimbabwe and Zambia. It was he who led the Northern Territories (BSA) Exploration Co. expedition which established for the
outside world that major copper deposits existed in Central Africa.
In 1897 Burnham left Africa to take up gold mining in Alaska and the Klondike but in 1900 he returned to become the chief
scout of the British forces engaged in the Boer War. In 1901, having been wounded, he left South Africa for London. There
he was employed by the Wa Syndicate. For the Wa Syndicate he led an expedition through Ghana and Upper Volta which was concerned
both with mineral occurrences and the possibility of improving the navigability of major rivers. He also served the Wa Syndicate
as their London office manager.
From 1902 to 1904 Burnham was employed by the East Africa Syndicate. For them he led a mineral prospecting expedition which
travelled extensively in the area around Lake Rudolph. Thereafter he was engaged in projects in the Americas for, or in cojunction
with, John Hays Hammond, the mining magnate. During the 1920s and 1930s Burnham was engaged in the management of the Dominguez
oilfield in California.
The papers of Frederick Burnham are not all in one place. One stray item is in the National Archives of Zimbabwe
. The remainder are split between Yale University Library
and the Hoover Institution's Archives. The papers at Yale University were gifted by Major Burnham's widow in 1951. Those at
the Hoover Institution she gifted in 1978. Whilst most of those gifted to Yale are subject to a closure which renders them
inaccessible until the year 2000
those at the Hoover Institution are open. The latter contain a substantial number of transcripts, that is to say copies laboriously
made by hand from diaries, letters, etc. the originals of which are (in most cases, at least) now at Yale. One file of correspondence
at the Hoover Institution Archives contains both transcripts and the originals from which they were copied
the transcripts are highly accurate. That the same is true of the other transcripts at the Hoover Institution can not, however,
be guaranteed. Whilst some papers are in both repositories (the originals at Yale and the transcipts at the Hoover Institution)
this is by no means the whole picture. Some papers at Yale (on mines in Chile and China, for instance) are not duplicated
in the papers at the Hoover Institution. Vice versa, some materials at the Hoover Institution are not duplicates of papers
1. Baxter, T.W. and Burke, E.E.
Guide to the Historical Manuscripts in the National Archives of Rhodesia, 1970, p.67.
2. Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.
3. A collection of writings about Burnham and working papers for his two books
Scouting on Two Continents (1928) and
Taking Chances (1944) are open for research use.
Lummis, Charles F., Folder 10 in Box 3.
|1861, May 11
||Born, Tivoli, Minnesota
||Family moved to Los Angeles
||Cowboy, hunter, prospector and scout in Arizona and Texas
||Marriage to Blanche Blick
||Trooper in BSA Police, Rhodesia [Zimbabwe]
||Prospecting in North West Rhodesia [Western Zambia]
||Scout for British forces in Matabele [Ndebele] wars
||Gold mining in Alaska and Klondike
||Chief Scout of British forces in Boer War
||Awarded Distinguished Service Order
||Working for Wa Syndicate in Gold Coast [Ghana] and London
||Working for East Africa Syndicate. Led mineral prospecting expedition to Lake Rudolph
||Engaged in irrigation project in Yacqui River Delta, Mexico
||Director of Yacqui Delta Land and Water Co.
||Manager of manganese and tungsten survey of Western USA
||Manager of Burnham Exploration Co. [later Dominguez Oil Fields Co.]
||Burnham Exploration Co. and Union Oil Co. agreed to develop Dominguez Oilfield on a 50:50 basis
Scouting on Two Continents
||Director of Union Oil Co.
||Death of Mrs Blanche Burnham
||Marriage to Ilo K. Willits [or Ferrce]
Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to
copies of audiovisual items, computer media, and digital files. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos, films, or digital
files during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you
of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual or digital material is
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Great Britain. Army.
Africa--Discovery and exploration.
Klondike gold fields.
Matabele War, 1893.
Matabele War, 1896.
South African War, 1899-1902.