Anthropologist records about living conditions and how Aboriginal people were treated in 1930's has been discovered

"The white administrators at Cherbourg had very little regard for what motivated ... what was important to Aboriginal people."
Further background (University of Queensland) pdf

Missing link discovered in cattleman's shed University of Queensland

Kim Lyell ABC News Mar 30, 2010

The long-lost works of one of Australia's leading early anthropologists, Caroline Tennant-Kelly, have been uncovered by University of Queensland researchers Kim de Rijke and Tony Jefferies.
Image courtesy Carlijn de Rijke

A long-lost collection of work by one of Australia's early anthropologists has been recovered by Queensland researchers in what has been heralded a breakthrough for Aboriginal studies.

Caroline Tennant-Kelly worked in the south-east Queensland Aboriginal settlement at Cherbourg in 1934 and at other settlements in New South Wales in the late 1930s.

Her work was thought to have been lost.

Two University of Queensland researchers who had worked on Native Title had realised its relevance and begun making enquiries about its possible whereabouts.

PhD student Kim de Rijke placed an advertisement in a newspaper in the Kyogle area of northern New South Wales, where Tennant-Kelly died in 1989.

"It was in the end that ad that made a number of people call me - including a cattleman who said he had been waiting for it for 20 years,' Mr de Rijke said.

Graham Gooding had found Tennant-Kelly's work in a shed and kept it for two decades because he suspected someone would appear looking for it.

Mr de Rijke says it was a great thrill to locate the collection.

"Although we have only undertaken a preliminiary it is very significant - particularly the Aboriginal ethnography in it," he said.

"I think the implications of this work are only just becoming evident."

"It is very signficiant in terms of Aboriginal history but it also contains lots of other aspects as well."

Mr de Rijke says Tennant-Kelly was an extraordinary woman who had strong views about how people should be treated and spoke out about issues at Cherbourg.

"The white administrators at Cherbourg had very little regard for what motivated ... what was important to Aboriginal people."

"This is a very valuable record about living conditions and how Aboriginal people were treated."

The collection has been described as a "quantum leap" for Indigenous studies in Australia.

Mr De Rijke says it makes many references to families and their links to the land.

Tennant-Kelly was involved in the theatre in Sydney in the 1920s and became involved in immigration issues during and after the World War in the 1940s.

The collection includes material from those aspects of her life.

The collection will be donated to the University of Queensland's Fryer Library.


Missing link discovered in cattleman's shed

uq.edu.au 30th April 2010

The long-lost works of one of Australia's leading early anthropologists, Caroline Tennant-Kelly, have been uncovered by University of Queensland researchers Kim de Rijke and Tony Jefferies.
Image courtesy Carlijn de Rijke

The long-lost works of one of Australia's leading early anthropologists have been discovered in the shed of a northern New South Wales cattleman.

The groundbreaking works of Caroline Tennant-Kelly, close friend of the famed American anthropologist Margaret Mead, were believed destroyed until uncovered by the detective work of a dogged team of two University of Queensland researchers — Mr Kim de Rijke and Mr Tony Jefferies.

The discovery has been described as a "quantum leap" for indigenous studies in Australia.

Cattleman Grahame Gooding said he kept the collection of materials for 20 years "because it looked like the works of an exceptional person."

"I thought that if I took care of it, someday someone would appear looking for it," Mr. Gooding said.

That person was Mr Kim de Rijke, a University of Queensland PhD student in Anthropology supervised by Professor David Trigger in the School of Social Science.

"It was a joyful and exciting day, for the Goodings and us," Mr de Rijke said.

"We've worked in native title in Central Queensland and are acutely aware of the lack of historical Australian Aboriginal ethnographic material for the region. We could hardly contain our excitement at the quantum leap this material represents," Mr de Rijke said.

Mrs Tennant-Kelly's work as an anthropologist spans from 1932 to 1970.

The collection details daily Aboriginal life at Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement in Queensland in 1934. In the late 1930s she also worked at Aboriginal settlements in New South Wales. She recorded kinship practices, traditional ceremonies, language, territorial knowledge and genealogies. Her research fills large holes for today's anthropological study.

The collection will be valuable for indigenous communities in Queensland and New South Wales as Tennant-Kelly makes numerous references to families and individuals and their links to land.

The discovery also includes private letters and photographs from her famous friend, the American anthropologist Margaret Mead, correspondence likely to add to the knowledge of Mead's groundbreaking work.

Researchers say Caroline Tennant-Kelly was a fascinating character who should be better known. She started her career in 1920s Sydney as a playwright, researched Aboriginal culture in the 1930s, became involved in post-war immigration issues and researched the social aspects of Sydney's early urban planning in the 1950s and 1960s.

This unique historical collection of Australian culture is being donated to the Fryer Library at The University of Queensland.

Further background (University of Queensland) pdf

Media: For more information, pictures and interviews please contact Mr Kim de Rijke phone: +61 (0)405 407 741 - The material is available for viewing/filming and photography.