Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Collections Report-Audiovisual Archives

Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Collections Report-Audiovisual Archives

Article excerpt

Ruth Fink photographic collection

David Jeffery, Collections Manager, writes:

Ruth Fink commenced fieldwork in the Murchison/ Gascoyne region of Western Australia in 1955, while employed with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney. Following the advice of Adrian Day, an administrator/welfare officer with the Western Australian Department of Native Affairs, she started research among the camp people at Mullewa where customary practices and widespread use of the Wajarri language was still extant.

Her initial research focused on recording the songs and traditions before they were lost but later shifted to interviewing people about contemporary concerns (Gray 2001). The rapport that Ruth Fink developed with community members is evident in the recordings held in the AIATSIS Audiovisual Archives, and the photographic portraits that are the subject of her latest donation to the Institute.

The 135 photographs provide a valuable insight into the camp life, housing conditions, and recreational activities of the Wajarri people at different locations in the area, including Wooleen, Mullewa, Tarden and Yaloo. Scenes of Aboriginal men working in the pastoral industry are also featured, despite Ruth having to contend with reluctant station owners suspicious of her motives. …

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