Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Maori and Pacific Islander people are featured in a number of collections and documents in the M Series.
The perspective is European, reflecting the authors’ views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in a historical context.
These perspectives include European explorers, government officials, settlers, missionaries, scientists and anthropologists.
Major collections include:
Wordlists of Indigenous words with English translations can be found in several collections, most notably in the School of Oriental and African Studies, featuring vocabularies compiled by Sir Joseph Banks (Series MS 12153. Sir Joseph Banks. Vocabularies of the languages of Tahiti, Prince's Island, Sulu, Samarang, New Holland, New Zealand and Savu, c. 1769-1780) and William Dawes (Series MS 41645. Notebooks of William Dawes, 1790 - 1793).
Records of Missionary Societies and individual missionaries also contain significant Indigenous content.
The Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project aims to make accessible the rich archival collections of the State Library of New South Wales.
This project allowed us to preserve some of the oldest languages in the world by locating, digitising and providing access to Indigenous word lists, language records and other cultural documents from the Library's archive.
Some items in the Library’s collections are the only known surviving records of these particular Indigenous languages.
Browse Indigenous Australian language material from our collections in the Rediscovering Indigenous Languages website.