Board for Anthropological Research Collections, 1923-1974

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The Board for Anthropological Research Collections document approximately 5500 Australian Indigenous people. Multidisciplinary teams of scientists from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum travelled to Central Australia – as well as to missions and ration stations across the country — recording empirical evidence of anthropological, sociological and cultural data that included linguistics, kinship relationship to the land and spirituality. The use of unique alpha numerical identifiers enabled critical references to be made, linking data and individuals universally across all media in the collection, which includes personal data cards; genealogies; numeracy and literacy tests; psychological tests; maps; vocabularies; journal entries and film and sound.

These linked records include highly significant crayon drawings, a technique pioneered by Norman Tindale. The collections document both the history of Australian Indigenous people and the history of technology, instruments and methodology used in anthropological field survey research. Since the 1980s Australian Indigenous people have accessed the collections regularly to confirm identity for Native Title and language and culture revival. The collections also remain critically important for multi-disciplinary research at the international level.

The University of Adelaide holds the records relating to the establishment of the Board for Anthropological Research and associated committee minutes and papers and records relating to the Board for Anthropological Research Longitudinal Study at Yuendumu, Northern Territory. The South Australian Museum has the records relating to data collection on the Board for Anthropological Research expeditions. The records date from 1923 until 1974 when the Board for Anthropological Research changed its name to the Board of Aboriginal Studies.