Guide to the Papers of Daisy Bates
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Daisy Bates
- Papers of Daisy Bates
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 365
- 10.47 metres (53 boxes, 2 folio boxes)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
The papers consist chiefly of Daisy Bates' manuscript and background material for The native tribes of Western Australia, written during Bates' period of service with the Western Australian Government from 1904 to 1912.
Originally the compilation was to have ten chapters, but by the time the Library acquired the papers they were divided into thirteen sections, followed by eleven loosely grouped forms of material. Superimposed on this arrangement was the division, by Bates herself, of the total collection into 99 'folios'. These folios are summarised on page 23 of The native tribes of Western Australia (Canberra, National Library of Australia, 1985).
Several versions of the draft of The native tribes of Western Australia will be encountered within each folio. These versions are explained in detail by Isobel White on page 24 of the publication, but basically there is a pencil longhand version accompanied by typescript versions, the later drafts being produced by Miss E. Watts, the secretary provided by the Commonwealth to sort and type Bates' papers. In the detailed list of the papers the longhand version is identified by the symbol 'MSS' following the title.
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1377317).
Conditions Governing Use
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Daisy Bates, National Library of Australia, MS 365, [series and folio number]'.
The papers were acquired by the Library in 1941.
The original material in MS 365 has been copied onto 55 microfilms (Mfm G 24,696-750). Transcripts of the collection, made many years ago by the Commonwealth, are also held in the Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide.
As well as the photographs and maps contained in the manuscript collection, there are images of Daisy Bates in the Pictures Collection and a number of maps in the Map Collection. Please consult appendices (under the Related Documentation tab) and staff of these areas for further information.
Other related manuscript collections are as follows.
MS 1830 A letter from Leon O'Broin to Reverend Thomas Leen, dated 20 December 1966, concerning the birthplace and forebears of Daisy Bates.
MS 2300 Letters to Daisy Bates from Andrew Lang, Frank Harris, Rudyard Kipling, A. Chichester Bradon, H. Linlithgow, J.A. Gorges, Kingsley Fairbridge, Ruby Fairbridge and M. Gibney, together with a few other items.
MS 3197 Letters from Daisy Bates to the Reverend John Mathew, and press cuttings and samples of hair from Aborigines.
MS 6481 Papers of Bates' biographer, Elizabeth Salter. They include research material for her book Daisy Bates: queen of the never never.
MS 7739 Various items relating to Eleanor Witcombe's research on Daisy Bates.
MS 7374 Copies of correspondence, articles and press cuttings relating to Daisy Bates and W.P. Hurst. The originals are held in the La Trobe Library, State Library of Victoria.
The original list for MS 365 has been revised so that the confusion arising from the variety of numbers used could be reduced, whilst still maintaining the original arrangement.
The first primary subdivision are the Series (previously called Sections), identified by upper case Roman numerals. These are subdivided into Parts, identified by Arabic numerals. These Parts are in turn subdivided by lower case letters of the alphabet and finally by lower case Roman numerals.
On the right hand side are Daisy Bates' folio numbers, which are subdivided by the Library's own system of items (i.e. pages). Since every piece of paper has been item-numbered, some of the 'gaps' in numbering on the list are in fact the covers or binders containing the manuscripts.
For stocktake and shelving purposes the list is subdivided still further by manuscript box numbers.
Researchers are advised that the most reliable method of requesting Bates material is by folio/item number, or by manuscript box number if larger quantities are required.
Daisy May Bates was born in 1859, daughter of James Edward O'Dwyer and Marguarette Hunt. Raised in England, she migrated to Australia in 1884 and lived briefly in Townsville before obtaining employment as a governess at Berry, N.S.W. In 1884 she met and married Edwin ('Breaker') Morant. On February 1885 she (probably bigamously) married Jack Bates, a cattleman, and they had a son Arnold in 1896.
For five years from 1894, Bates lived in London working as a journalist on the Review of Reviews. Bates returned to Australia in 1899, investigating ill-treatment of Aborigines for the London Times. Bates' first contact with Aboriginal people was at the Trappist mission at Beagle Bay, north of Broome. In 1901 she temporarily rejoined her husband on the cattle station at Roebuck Plains, where tribes from the Broome district were camped. She began collecting vocabularies and observed sacred and ritual life.
In 1904, Bates was appointed by the Western Australian Government to research the tribes of the State. Bates concentrated at first on the Bibbulmun tribe of the Maamba reserve in the south west where she recorded data on language, myth, religion and kinship. By 1910, Bates had completed a substantial manuscript on the Aborigines. Its publication was delayed by the arrival of an expedition led by A.R. Radcliffe-Brown to study the social anthropology of Aborigines of the north-west. Bates became interested in Aboriginal welfare after observing the fate of Aborigines exiled on the islands of Bernier and Dorre.
In 1912 she camped at Eucla (S.A.) amongst the remnants of the Mirning tribe on the southern fringe of the Nullarbor Plain and in 1914 attended meetings of the anthropological section of the British Association for the advancement of Science. In 1915 she returned to the Mirning's area, near Yalata. In 1918 she moved to Ooldea (S.A.) where she continued her welfare work. She was appointed C.B.E. in 1934. Throughout her life, Bates wrote numerous newspapers articles on Aboriginal life and was able to influence government in improving conditions for Aboriginal people. Her autobiography, The passing of the Aborigines, was published in 1938.
In 1945 Bates moved to Adelaide where she later died at Prospect on 18 April 1951.
References: Australian Dictionary of Biography volume 7; Monash Biographical Dictionary of 20th century Australia (1994).
See Appendix 1 for a complete index to correspondents.
See Appendix 2 for an index to articles in order of classification scheme.
See Appendix 3 for index to maps held in the Library's Map Collection.
See Appendices 4-5 for an index to images in folios 94-96.
See Appendix 1 for full index to correspondents.