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The Indigenous collections are one of the Library’s strengths and they encompass materials reflecting the earliest interpretation of the history, language, art and culture of Aboriginal people, though often written from a non-Aboriginal perspective.
These collected works document the life and activities of Aboriginal peoples from the earliest European explorations of Australia through to the present day and include papers and journals written by missionaries (such as the Anglican Board of Missions, Australian Indigenous Ministries [formerly Aboriginal Inland Mission] and the Presbyterian, Uniting and Methodist churches), explorers (such as Sir Thomas Mitchell and Ludwig Leichhardt), anthropologists (Herbert Basedow and Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer).
Importantly, the collection also includes materials created by Aboriginal people, such as:
- testimonies and printed material from leaders Pearl Mary (Gambanyi) Gibbs and Faith Bandler;
- author Ruby Langford Ginibi, and
- documents from political organisations such as the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, the Aborigines Progressive Association and the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs.
The Library's Indigenous Collection Strategy guides the current collecting of material related to Indigenous peoples, particularly in NSW. Below are some examples demonstrating the diversity and the significance of the Library’s Indigenous collections.