Bringing Back Aboriginal Languages from Scraps of Paper

Ethnographer Daisy Bates recorded many Aboriginal languages in the early 20th century, which would otherwise be lost today. Introduction In 1904 Daisy Bates, an Irish-Australian journalist and ethnographer, sent out a questionnaire to squatters, police, and other authorities across Western Australia asking them to record examples of the local Aboriginal language. Mrs Bates (1859-1951) was something[…]

Preserving Precious Indigenous Languages in Australia

Linguists are using new technology to return decades-old recordings of near-extinct languages to the communities where they were made. On the bonnet of a dust-covered four-wheel drive, linguists Ian Green and Rachel Nordlinger whip out a laptop to download a sound file onto a memory stick. The Indigenous man beside them is impatient. His family[…]

The Irish Nationalist Rising That Shaped Australia

Examining a pivotal moment in Irish history that unleashed a new, Catholic force on Australian politics. On Easter Monday 1916 nearly 2000 Irish men and women drawn from nationalist and socialist strands seized buildings across Ireland’s capital Dublin and declared an Irish republic. Britain, in the midst of World War One, scrambled to react to[…]

How Did a Cockatoo Reach 13th-Century Sicily?

Images of a cockatoo in Frederick II of Sicily’s falconry book reveal how trade routes around Australia’s north were flourishing as far back as medieval times. Introduction Among the hand-written documents, books, and ancient artefacts in the Vatican Library is a 13th century manuscript on falconry written in Latin by or for the Holy Roman[…]

The Southern Hemisphere, Australia, and Cartographers in the 16th Century

In the 16th century, most maps were published in Latin and cartographers were just starting to record European discoveries such as America. Matthew Flinders, who died just over 200 years ago, is widely credited with giving this country its name: Australia. Flinders preferred Australia to the more commonly used Terra Australis as he thought it[…]

Sex and the Sisterhood: How Prostitution Worked for Women in 19th-Century Melbourne

Rubbish excavated from brothels sheds light on sex workers’ lives in the 19th century. Despite the dangers, prostitution offered an independent living free of male control. Sex work was one of the major ways poor women could earn a reasonable income in the 19th century. Especially unmarried women with babies. But we don’t hear people[…]