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Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 42


Ingereth Macfarlane

Welcome to the 42nd volume of Aboriginal History journal. The seven articles this year highlight the wealth of sources that feed into historical research of Indigenous Australia. Their arguments are based on material that ranges from comments on online internet forums to media photographs, from missionaries’ correspondence to local and self-published newspapers, from institutional records to personal diaries and interviews, and from town maps to archaeological surveys and museum collections.

The role of performance in the events organised by the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) in 1957–67 in Sydney shows up the contest between state assimilationist goals and Indigenous participants’ insistence on distinction, continuity and survival (Bollen and Brewster). The then radical agenda – in a protectionist policy regime – of the advocacy group, the Aborigines’ Protection League in South Australia in the 1920s–30s, is examined in a detailed study of the group’s campaigns and campaigners (Foster). A picture of colonial reception of Aboriginal performance and the public assertion of local Aboriginal cultural priorities in 1893 Darwin is developed in the historical contextualisation of a collection of Aboriginal artefacts found in the Marischal Museum, Aberdeen (Sculthorpe). A nuanced analysis of the relationship between the Catholic Benedictine Mission at New Norcia and the Western Australian Native Welfare Department draws on the correspondence between the Abbot of New Norcia and A.O. Neville (Taylor). A large body of reader responses to a recent online article on the deep history of Aboriginal Australia provides a way to map the strengths and weaknesses in the general Australian public’s apprehension of that long history (Griffiths and Russell). A spatial history argues against the concept of ‘fringe camps’ and for a pattern of demonstrable continuities between precolonial, colonial and recent Aboriginal people’s favoured camp places and the locations of urban contemporary park spaces in Brisbane and townships in south-eastern Queensland (Kerkhove). In the format of an interview, the themes concerning the writing of Aboriginal history and contemporary political debates that are developed in Tim Rowse’s recent book Indigenous and Other Australians since 1901 (2017) are explored (Johnson and Rowse).

Vale Luise Hercus

We honour the creative life and exceptional scholarly contribution of Luise Hercus, who passed away in April 2018. She was a foundation member of the Editorial Board of Aboriginal History journal, and its book review editor from 1993 to 2017. Still working days before she died aged 92, she was dedicated and skilled in recording Aboriginal language accounts, especially for south-eastern Australia and the Lake Eyre region, and putting these in historical context. Her work has made these available to Aboriginal communities and to all those who want the land alive with its stories of the Ancestors and of the people. She is sorely missed by all, and especially by Aboriginal History Inc.

Change to the referencing system in Aboriginal History volume 43, 2019

In the early years of publication, the editors of Aboriginal History journal spent much time developing an in-house system of referencing that worked for the full interdisciplinary range of papers that it was the editors’ goal to publish. That system achieved its purpose for four decades, but in the age of electronic publication and standardisation, simplification is possible and desirable. In volume 43, 2019, Aboriginal History Inc. will change the referencing for both journal articles and monographs to a more standard Chicago referencing format, with a few modifications. For detailed information and examples of the format for new submissions, please read the updated ‘Information for authors’ on our website at

Many thanks to the stalwart Editorial Board, to Geoff Hunt, and to Emily Hazlewood and ANU Press for their invaluable, skilled support, assistance and patience in bringing this volume into its final form.

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