For the love of history
For some people, work gets in the way of retirement.
Such is the case for Carson City historian Jon Fox. He has spent the last two of his “golden Years” sitting in libraries, surfing the Internet and phoning around the world, compiling data on the century-old Anglo-Boer War, his latest project.
Through the end of the month, some of that research is available for public review in a display case at the Carson City Public Library. A combination of photographs, maps and other original artifacts from the turn of the century are featured.
Fox said his interest in the Boer Wars was piqued while he was researching some related British military aviation history. In looking through periodicals and other first-hand accounts of the Anglo-Dutch African conflict, he found that Americans were interested in the war.
“I found out it was closely followed by the American populace,” he said. “Even more than the Spanish-American War.
“Americans, especially people in Nevada, saw what was happening and sympathized with the Boers.” One of the reasons for this sympathy, besides a traceable Revolutionary War animosity, was the similarity between the Boer’s fight with the Brits and the American fight more than 100 years earlier, he said.
The war, which lasted from 1899 to 1902, signaled the downfall of the British imperial domain, Fox said. During those three years Britain’s inability to maintain absolute authority over their empire became apparent. Fox points to several treaties Britain signed in order to lessen its exhaustive military presence.
During the course of his research, Fox says he also learned about some military innovations that became standards for future wars in different lands.
“The British were the first to employ the concept of concentration camps,” he said. “These concentration camps were mainly the doings of Lord Baden-Powell.”
Robert Baden-Powell is best known for starting the Boy Scouts.
Much like the condition of Jewish concentration camps in Nazi Germany, the south African camps were rife with disease and famine, Fox Said. Women and children were often forced to live in these substandard conditions.
In Fox’s professional career, he has taught university, college and high school history. He continues to work at a local company.
Since Fox put the first pieces in the glass case, library officials say the exhibit has generated a lot of interest.
“I had one woman come in who said her uncle had been a general in the war,” said Andrea Moore, community relations coordinator for the library. “She was interested in writing a book.”
Fox said he hopes to cook up another exhibit for display in about six months.
“I think people enjoy knowing a little bit more about the past,” he said.