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Bringing back languages from scraps of paper

Archiving

Date: 5 June 2018

By Associate Professor Nick Thieberger, University of Melbourne

The controversial ethnographer Daisy Bates recorded many Aboriginal languages in the early 20th century, which would otherwise be lost today; now her papers have been digitised.

In 1904 Daisy Bates, an Irish-Australian journalist and ethnographer, sent out a questionnaire to squatters, police, and other authorities across Western Australia asking them to record examples of the local Aboriginal language.

Mrs Bates (1859-1951) was something of an eccentric – wearing full Edwardian outfits even when living in small tents in Aboriginal camps – and she remains a controversial figure. But she was one of the few Europeans of the era who lived closely with Indigenous Australians and recorded their culture.

Full article here


  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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