Eight wax cylinders, originally recorded in 1899 and 1903, contain the only spoken records of any one of the original Tasmanian Aboriginal languages as spoken and sung by Fanny Cochrane Smith, the last surviving fluent speaker of those languages. The recordings are held by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, but cultural authority is invested in the broader Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. In addition the National Film and Sound Archive has provided specialist preservation and curatorial services to assist with the ongoing preservation of the recordings and holds preservation back-up copies. These recordings are of immense cultural significance as they provide a tangible connection to the voices of the ancestors of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The recordings are also a legacy of cultural knowledge and a record of family oral history for Cochrane Smith's descendants.
At the time these recordings were made, Tasmanian Aboriginal people were regarded as part of a dying race, owing to the popular belief that the British invasion of Tasmania had led inevitably to the extinction of the island's Aboriginal people. For Tasmanian Aboriginal people the Cochrane Smith recordings are songs of survival and represent their ongoing struggle for rights and recognition. They have contributed to a continuing language reclamation project conducted by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, the palawa kani Language Retrieval Program.
The Cochrane Smith Award for Sound Heritage was created by the National Film and Sound Archive in 2010, and celebrates the achievements of a person who has made a substantial contribution to the preservation, survival and recognition of sound heritage.