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Denise Chapman and Suzy Russell

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Barks, Birds & Billabongs: Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. 16-20 November 2009.

Suzy Russell

 

Suzy Russell

Content services librarian

State Library of South Australia

Denise Chapman

Denise Chapman

Content services librarian

State Library of South Australia

 

Abstract

The responsibilities of leadership: The records of Charles P Mountford

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In this paper we will give an overview of the many and varied contents of the Mountford–Sheard collection held by the State Library of South Australia, specifically those relating to the 1948 Expedition, including diary entries that tell of his initial meetings with the National Geographic Society, the large quantity of administrative paperwork documenting the planning and lead-up to the Expedition, and of course the vast collection of correspondence, photographs, recordings and ethnographic notes he made during the Expedition, with a focus on the legacy of Mountford's work collecting and recording the artwork of the region.

Included will be insights recorded by Bessie Mountford in the personal journal she kept during the Expedition, during which she served as honorary secretary.

Using Mountford's first-hand accounts we will also discuss some of the controversies of the Expedition, such as the attempted coup to depose him as leader, his disagreements with Expedition members and missionary staff, and the transport and communication problems that dogged the party.

(top): Members of the American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt, 1948. (bottom): Man sitting on the end of a rock looking over a view of Alligator River, 1948.
Top: Members of the American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt, 1948. Photographer unknown. State Library of South Australia (PRG 1218/34/2847). Bottom: View of Alligator River from Injalak Hill, 1948. CP Mountford. State Library of South Australia (PRG 1218/35/1703).

Biographies

Suzy Russell completed a Graduate Diploma in Information Studies in 2000, and has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in anthropology and women's studies.

Since joining the State Library of South Australia in 2003 she has worked on various aspects of the library's Indigenous collections, with a special focus on the Mountford–Sheard collection. Her work entails reference and research work, cataloguing, developing policy and staging events, as well as supplying content for online and physical exhibitions.

A member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander library and information resource network, Suzy co presented a paper at their 2008 conference and edits their quarterly newsletter.

www.slsa.sa.gov.au

Denise Chapman began work at the State Library of South Australia in 2003. Her work focuses on the management of collections with Indigenous content, including photography, manuscripts, audiovisual pieces and artworks. The position involves managing access to collections, policy development, digitisation priorities, research inquiries, and coordinating events, tours and training. During the past two years she has been involved in processing the Mountford–Sheard Collection, which was inscribed on to the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register in 2008.

Before joining the State Library of South Australia, Denise worked in the public library environment for two years, following the completion of a Graduate Diploma in Information Studies in 2001. She also has a Bachelor of Arts with majors in geography and history.

Denise is a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information Resource Network (ATSILIRN), and co presented a paper 'Improving access to Indigenous resources and the State Library of South Australia', at the 2008 ATSILIRN conference in Darwin.

Note: The views expressed in speakers' abstracts are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Museum of Australia.