Speaking back to colonial collections: Building living into Aboriginal archives

During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries a significant number of amateur collectors were on a quest to record, categorise and preserve what they perceived to be the “dying races” of Aboriginal Australia. In New South Wales, collectors such as Alan Carroll (1823–1911) and Clifton Cappie Towle (1888–1946) set out to capture information on Aboriginal cultural practices and languages and to disseminate these through their networks and in published journals. Both used various kinds of methods to gather and document cultural content, be it in the form of diaries, paintings, manuscripts or photographs.

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