Donald Thomson's Material Culture Collection From Arnhem Land

Collection TypeDataset
Owner GroupDigital Humanities Hub
TitleDonald Thomson's Material Culture Collection From Arnhem Land
Significance StatementDonald Thomson played a crucial role in solving the Caledon Bay crisis in Arnhem Land, in 1932-33. During his time in Arnhem Land he formed strong relationships with Yolngu people, which enabled him to collect rich, valuable data during his time in the area. He was also a talented photographer, who managed to capture and produce photographic material in places ill-equipped at the time for image-work. His material culture collection deserves attention for these reasons, as it grew out of and was informed by his close relationships with the people he worked with.
Brief DescriptionThis collection contains material from a project involving the documentation of items of material culture collected by Donald Thomson from Arnhem Land from 1935-1937 and 1942-1943.
Full DescriptionDonald Thomson was an anthropologist, biologist and photographer who worked with Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land, the Western Desert and southeast Australia. This project examines and documents items of material culture he collected from Arnhem Land from 1935-1937 and 1942-1943. His collections include over 2,500 photographs and 5,000 objects. During this project, fieldwork was undertaken in many of the places Thomson visited including Maningrida, Ramingining, Elcho Island, Gapuwiyak and Yirrkala.
Contact AddressResearch School of Humanities and the Arts
The Australian National University
Acton 0200 Australia
ANZSRC-FOR Subject160104 - Social and Cultural Anthropology
210204 - Museum Studies
Other SubjectMaterial culture
Museum Collections
History of Collections
Australian Aborigines
Coverage Dates
Date FromDate To
Coverage Area
Location Type
textArnhem Land, NT, Australia

Identifier Type
Identifier Value
Publication Reference
Hamby, L, 2005, 'The First Biographer of Baskets', In N. Peterson and B. Rigsby (eds), "Donald Thomson: The Man and Scholar", pp 71-84, The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Canberra

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Publication Reference
Hamby, M 2007, 'A Question of Time: Ten Canoes', Australian Journal of Anthropology, The, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 123-126

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Publication Reference
Hamby, M 2007, 'Wrapt with String', Textile: the journal of cloth and culture, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 206-229.

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Publication Reference
Hamby, M 2007, 'Thomson Times and Ten Canoes', Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 127-146.

Identifier Type
Identifier Value
Publication Reference
Allen, L, Hamby, L 2011, 'Pathways to Knowledge – research, agency and power relations in the context of collaborations between museums and source communities', Byrne, S.; Clarke, A.; Harrison, R.; Torrence, R. (eds.), "Unpacking the Collection" in One World Archaeology series, pp 209-229, Springer, London

Rights StatementThe copyright for the material this collection is based upon is not held by The Australian National University as such to utilise the items in this collection permission must be sought from the original copyright holders. Please email the contact person to gain further information about obtaining permission to utilise parts of this collection.
Status: Published
Published To:
- Australian National Data Service
- Australian National University
Identifier: anudc:3282
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