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Ian Hogbin and local research assistants in Guadalcanal

Indigenous records

Records of Aboriginal and Pacific Islander peoples
We hold the oldest Australian academic anthropology records documenting Indigenous communities in Australia and the South Pacific region. They are listed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

The records pertaining to Australian Indigenous peoples include field notes, genealogies, correspondence, photographs, audio-visual material, reports and secondary sources. The field research records date from 1910 and include references to over 60 Aboriginal languages.

These records comprise the personal archives of prominent anthropologists (including AR Radcliffe-Brown, AP Elkin, HIP Hogbin and Camilla Wedgwood), records of the Anthropology Department, and records of researchers funded by the Australian National Research Council (including WEH Stanner, Olive Pink, Ursula McConnell, and WL Warner).

The University of Sydney Archives hold sensitive content in various formats including audio, film, photographs, and printed material, which may be considered distressing or offensive. First Nations peoples should be aware that the Archives hold material that contains images and names of deceased people. Exposure to these materials may contravene indigenous laws or practices and may cause distress or harm, particularly to the relatives of these people.

The records may contain descriptions and words which may not reflect current understandings. Material regarding First Nations peoples and cultures has historically been created and recorded by non-Indigenous people and may not have had the input of First Nations peoples themselves. As a result, this material may contain inaccuracies and misinterpretations, or words and descriptions which could be considered insensitive, outdated and/or offensive in today's context. While the Archives do not necessarily support such language and views, it is considered important historically to present this information without alteration.

Where records are restricted or closed, permission from the relevant community is required. 

Genealogies are available on request for individuals or families who are researching their own family history.

Native title claims must be submitted with an official letterhead including the claim and claim number. 

Please email the University Archives with details of the records you wish to view.

The photographs within the Elkin personal archives are currently closed. A project is underway to identify the relevant people/community/communities that can grant access to the images.

We manage these records in accordance with ATSILIRN protocols recognising the historical and emotional importance these records hold for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Access to some records is restricted for privacy reasons or out of respect for the rights and/or beliefs of indigenous peoples.

Archives series identified as containing records relating to Australian Indigenous people:

Archives series identified as containing records relating to indigenous peoples of the Pacific region:

These lists of language groups and places are drawn from the current guides to the record holdings. Some spelling will be out of date. These lists should not be taken as definitive. It is expected that additional languages and places will be identified through the process of indexing the records.

  • Languages (Bardi, Karajarri, Jabirr Jabirr, Gija / Kija, Ngarinyin, Worrorra, Nyulnyul, Jaru)
  • Places (Forrest River, Hall’s Creek, Beagle Bay, Sunday Island, Wyndham, La Grange)
New South Wales
  • Languages (Gumbaynggirr, Gathang, Bundjalung, Muruwari, Gamilaraay / Gamilaroi / Kamilaroi, Yuwaalaraay, Yaygirr, Dhanggati / Dunghutti, North Raga?, Paakantyi / Paakantji / Barkindji, Nulla Nulla, Southern Anaiwan, Northern Anaiwan, Birrbay, Wanyuparlku, Ngambaa, Yugambal, Wiradjuri, Yandruwandha)
  • Places (Bellbrook, north-east NSW, Walgett, Deniliquin, Kyogle, Darlling River, Murray River, Port Stephens, Edward River, Bowraville, Wallaga Lake, Angledool, Brewarrina, Gundagai, Brungle, Coonabarabran, Tingha, Bassendean, Cabbage Tree Island, Mossgiel, Pilliga, Roseby Park [now Jerrinja], Toomelah) 
Northern Territory
  • Languages (Rembarrnga, Jawoyn, Djinba, Warlpiri, Warumungu, , Mangarrayi, Alawa, Menthe, Batjamalh, Arrernte, Yolngu Matha, Anindilyakwa, Tiwi, Western Desert, Malak Malak, Kaytetye)
  • Places (Arnhem Land, Roper River, Port Essington, Groote Eylandt, Bathurst Island, Milingimbi, Elcho Island, Crocodile Islands, Melville Island, Tiwi Islands, Hermannsburg, Mount Lieebig, Daly River, Darwin River, Alice Springs, Victoria River, Petermann Ranges, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Port Keats, Musgrave Ranges, Wave Hill, MacDonald Downs Station, Goulburn Islands)
  • Languages (Wik Mungkan, Yugambeh, Yuggera, Umpila, Jandai, Yandruwandha, Guugu Yimithirr, Kuku Yalanji, Yir Yoront)
  • Places (Yarrabah, Weipa, Cape York, south-east Qld, Thursday Island, Cape York, Aurukun, Palm Island, Cherbourg [formerly Barambah], Torres Strait Islands, Cockatoo Creek, Mitchell River, Diamantina)
South Australia
  • Languages (including Antikirinya, Luritja, Arabana, Yaraldi, Wirangu, Dieri, Tanganekald, Ramindjeri, Narungga/Nharangga, Kokatha, Western Desert, Yandruwandha) 
  • Places (Mt Margaret, Fowlers Bay, Oodnadatta, Macumba, Point McLeay [now Raukkan], Point Pearce, Murray River, Adelaide, Ooldea, Musgrave Ranges, Ernabella [now Pukatja], Great Victoria Desert)
  • Languages (Bangerang, Ngangaruku, Tanganekald)
  • Places (Buangor, Tatyoon, Morangbark, Murray River, Keilor, Picola)
Western Australia
  • Languages (Karigarra, Kariyarra, Ngarluma, Warriyangga, Maya, Pinikura, Burduna, Bayungu, Nhuwala, Yingkarta, Warriyangga, Thalanyji, Palyku, Martuthunira, Tharrkari, Wajarri, Nyamal, Karajarri, Wunambal, Mirniny, Noongar / Nyoongar, Jabirr Jabirr, Nyangumarta, Western Desert, Bardi, Worrorra)
  • Places (Albany, Bernier and Dorres Island, Carnavon, Lagrange Bay, Broome, Ninety Mile Beach, Petermann Ranges, Great Victoria Desert, Cundelee)

Featured image (top of the page): Ian Hogbin and research assistants in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, 1930s. Ian Hogbin Personal Archives, P15_12_9_001.