Tindale genealogies

Map showing the distribution of the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, 1940.
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What are the Tindale genealogies?

On the joint Harvard-Adelaide Universities’ Anthropological Expedition of 1938-39 Norman Tindale and his colleague Professor Joseph Birdsell undertook what has been called one of the greatest systematic genealogical surveys conducted on any indigenous population anywhere in the world. 

This was scientific expedition in which Tindale, Birdsell and their colleagues recorded ethnographic, biological and eugenic data and photographed some 2400 peoples from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and southern Western Australia. The names of 50,000 Aboriginal people were recorded in genealogical charts tracing back to the 1860s and 1870s. Subsequent expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s collected data on 5000 more people. 

The New South Wales component of the Tindale genealogies includes charts and photographs from nine communities, mostly collected through 1938. These include Boggabilla, Brewarrina, Cummeragunga, Kempsey, Menindee, Pilliga, Walgett, Wallaga Lake and Woodenbong. 

Who can view the Tindale Genealogies?

Only direct descendants or those with written approval from communities or families can view the genealogies. 

This restricted access policy is in the interests of privacy and respect for the communities mentioned in the genealogies, and the State Library of NSW has agreed to a restricted access policy, as required by the South Australian Museum.

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Using the Tindale genealogies

1. Check the Index to the NSW Tindale Genealogies to see if your family name is listed and take a note of the relevant family name, community name and sheet number/s.

Many Aboriginal people travelled around NSW so your family may have their roots in one community but appear in another.

2. Contact the First Nations specialist staff to make an appointment and provide the information that you noted from the index.

Note: You must be a direct descendant or have written approval from communities or families mentioned in the genealogies to access these records.

Telephone:  (02) 9273 1577

Please note that these genealogies contain historical terminology that may offend families and individuals. Racist terminology such as ‘half caste’ or ‘full blood’ commonly appear on the sheets. It is important that the sheets are viewed with the First Nations specialist staff for clarification purposes and cultural safety.

In some instances, photographs were also taken. This is indicated by a number starting with N found near the person’s name on the genealogical sheets. Copies of genealogies and photos can be provided upon request.