Professor Grace Karskens was awarded a Coral Thomas Fellowship for a project based on an extraordinary document in the Library’s collection: the Reverend John McGarvie’s 1829 ‘Native Names of Places on the Hawkesbury’. Working with a team of Aboriginal researchers, artists, teachers and knowledge holders, as well as archaeologists, linguists and local experts, Grace has mapped most of the over 170 place names on McGarvie’s list. It is now possible to know and use them once more. But places and words are always deeper and more complicated than they look. Locked in these names are clues not only to the wider landscape of the river in the late 1820s, but to an Aboriginal way of seeing the world, and possibilities for different ways to read this Country.
The Coral Thomas Fellowship - inaugurated in 2015 in honour of Coral Kirkwood Thomas née Patrick (1920-1996) through the generosity of Rob & Kyrenia Thomas and family - is the most significant Fellowship offered by the Library. The Fellowship encourages deep and focused research into Australian culture, history and society, drawing on Australian and international research collections. It promotes discussion on Australian history and culture through research which informs and engages contemporary discourse.