Guide to the Papers of Ernest Westlake (as filmed by the AJCP)


M2413 - M2414

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2019

Collection Summary

Westlake, Ernest
Papers of Ernest Westlake (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1826 - 1976
Collection Number
M2413 - M2414
11 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Correspondence and notebooks relating to Westlake's visit to Tasmania. They include: accounts of his journey to Tasmania on SS Africa; landings in Western Australia and Adelaide; his impressions of Tasmania; field work in Tasmania; notes on Trucanini and other Tasmanian Aborigines; his collection of stone implements; Professor Baldwin Spencer; and J.P. Moir.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Citation items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Material selectively filmed at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1988 (AJCP Reels: M2413-M2414). Original microfilm digitised as part of the AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Pitt Rivers Museum. Oxford University, Oxford, England. For more information see Ernest Westlake at the Pitt Rivers Museum (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at theNational Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

The papers of Beatrice Blackwood (M2806-M2819) [], Makereti (M2415-M2421) [], Sir W. Baldwin Spencer and Sir Edward Tylor (M2803) [], and Miscellaneous Collections (M2804-M2805) [] have been listed separately.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2019. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Adelaide, South Australia; Africa, SS; archaeology; Australia; Great Britain; Geologists; Indigneous Australians: Tasmania; Moir, J.P.; Spencer, Sir W. Baldwin, Prof.; Tasmania; Trucanini (Lalla Rookh); Westlake, Ernest


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 496, p193.

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Westlake, (1855-1922) was born in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, son of a quaker cloth manufacturer. As a student he studied science and biology at University College London under Huxley and Tyndall. He decided to concentrate on geology, and to further specialize in flints. At the British Museum he saw some stone implements of Tasmanian aborigines which he thought were similar to the French ones he was studying. In 1908-10 he travelled to Tasmania and made a collection of implements which are now in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Item Descriptions

Series Box I. Ernest Westlake: Papers, 17 June 1916 - 1976

5 items

Six Tasmanian notebooks - rough jottings of stories told by Tasmanians, extracts from books (c.561p.), n.d. (File 1-6)

Letters and miscellaneous notes on Trucanine and other Tasmanian Indigenous Australians (c.19 items) (File 7)

Correspondents include Fritz Noetling, Hobart, 18 November 1908; Henry Atkinson, Brookside, 24 May 1910; Mrs S.A. Hughes, Kettering, 8 December 1908; F.W. Beattie, Hobart, 5 February 1911 and 6 July 1911; Priscilla Wells, Charlbury, 5 August 1908; 14 November 1910, Westlake to J.P. Moir describing a visit to Prof. Baldwin Spencer in Melbourne.

Notes on a conversation with Walter A.B. Gellibrand, Tasmania Club, 1 Oct, 1391 about aborigines. 8p. and with Donald MacMillan 16 June 1891 and 11 April 1894 about aborigines in the 1830's. (4p.)

Correspondence regarding the Westlake collection of stone implements, 17 June 1916 - 23 January 1940 (File 8)

Includes 2 letters from F. Busher, British Museum (Natural History) to Westlake re. importing the collections and the possible theft of some items at the London docks, 17 June 1916.

6 letters from Dr. Aubrey Westlake to Prof. Balfour at the Pitt Rivers Museum 1923-9, and one from Dr. Westlake to T.K. Penniman 23 January 1940 re. his father's collection.

Correspondence between Aubrey Westlake and Donald Baden-Powell, 27 September 1953 - 4 July 1963 (File 9)


Biographical notes on Ernest Westlake by Aubrey Westlake (3p.) [1976]

5 cards with descriptions and drawings of Tasmanian items, including a skull (File 12)

Series Box II. Correspondence with his children Aubrey and Margaret from Tasmania, 24 September 1908 - 9 October 1910

85 letters, 24 September 1908 - 9 October 1910, written by Westlake from Hobart and various locations in Tasmania. The correspondence starts as his ship SS Afric leaves Liverpool and covers the daily life on board, excursions in Cape Town and landing in Western Australia and Adelaide before final landfall in Hobart. In the Tasmanian letters, Westlake comments, not always favourably, on the local people he meets - including J.P. Moir, Dr. Noetling, Rev. Wilkinson, Mr Peterd and ex-premier Reibey; the weather, the scenery, the flies and the local food - he does not like Australian produce cheese or chocolate and deplores the Protectionist policy which prevent sale of English varieties. He details the field trips he makes round Tasmania and the local islands in search of flints, implements, and people with recollections of the aborigines There is a vivid description of his time in gaol due to a faulty bicycle lamp and an over officious policeman. On May 9, 1910, he visits South Bruni Island with Moir to photograph the eclipse of the sun. He comments on the similarities between the Quakers and the Tasmanian Indigenous Australians who both believe in the guidance of the spirit, and he deplores the morals of the present-day Tasmanians, who as the descendants of convicts, make it impossible to leave anything unprotected. Letters 83-84, 16 June - 12 July 1910 are written on the homeward voyage and describe a visit to Prof. Baldwin Spencer at Melbourne University. Letter 85 9 October 1919 is to Aubrey about his schooling.

Series. Exercise Books, 1826 - 17 June 1911

3 items

2 Derwent Exercise Books, c. 1826 -1876 (File 1)

These contain manuscript notes and excerpts from Tasmanian newspapers concerning Indigenous Australians. Papers, c.1826-1876, include Hobart Mercury; Hobart Town Gazette; Hobart Town Courier; Tasmanian; Colonial Times (44p. and 40p.)

3 Blank Exercise Books and Museum Notebook, 1 April 1905 - 17 June 1911 (File 2)

Two contain lists of words and language notes. (38p. & 15p.) One contains extracts from Rev. Atkinson "Talks with a Naturalist" Church News 1 April, 1 July, 1 August, 1 November 1905, and details his meetings with Truganini and descriptions of her life on North Bruni Island. 8p. At the back 7p and one loose page of word lists, crossed out.

The Museum Notebook contains general notes on Tasmania, lists of Museums, booklists, eyewitness testimony regarding aborigines. 32p. and 4 loose pages and a press cutting Mercury 17 June 1911 Paper read by J.W. Beatie before Tasmanian Royal Society Our Straits Islands.

4 Derwent Exercise Books (File 3)

These contain extracts from "Records Relating to Aborigines" in the Government Record Office, Hobart (39p, 41p, 42p, 43p).

Series. Miscellaneous

Folder contains letter to Westlake from H.P. Blackmore, Salisbury, 14 September 1908, that he thinks it a good idea for Westlake to go to Tasmania, and 3 pages of miscellaneous notes.

Series. Tylor Correspondence on Tasmanian Tools, 20 January 1893 - 25 August 1906

28 letters to E.B. Tylor in Oxford concerning Tasmanian aboriginal stone implements. Correspondents include:

L.W. Williamson, Browns River, 6 August 1893; 20 January 1895; 5 March 1895, 16 Sept 1897

Prof. Van Luschen, Berlin, 16 Nov. 1897

J. Paxton Moir, Hobart, 21 September; 26 August 1898; 23 January 1899; 30 January 1899; 9 June 1900; 23 July 1900; 27 October 1900; 26 March 1900; 10 September 1905; 30 September 1905; 26 March 1906; and undated lists of stone implements he is sending to Tylor with sketches.

H. Ling Roth, Halifax, 26 Aug. 1898; 13 Feb. 1899

A. Howitt, East Malvern, Vic, 31 Oct. 1898

E. Dobbie, Hobart, 20 March 1905

E. Anthony, Hobart, 25 Aug. 1906