MS 8006, MS Acc09.011
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Robert Hamilton Mathews
- Papers of Robert Hamilton Mathews
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 8006, MS Acc09.011
- 5.28 metres (33 boxes + 1 small folio box + 1 folder)
- Language of Materials
- Special Collections (Manuscripts)
Scope and Contents
The main collection of papers at MS 8006 consist almost entirely of material relating to Mathews' anthropological research on the customs, social life and languages of the Australian Aborigines.
The papers fall into two main categories: first, original manuscript material; and second, a collection of reprints of articles on Australian Aborigines by Mathews, many of which contain manuscript annotations and inserts.
The first category, which accounts for just over half of the total shelf metres, includes diaries, correspondence, notebooks, working notes, drafts, photographs and some personal documents. Also included amongst this material is some biographical and bibliographical data on Mathews that was assembled by the anthropologist A.P. Elkin during the 1940s. At that time Elkin was planning to write a biography of Mathews and, for this purpose, had custody of the Mathews Papers for some years. During this time Elkin arranged the papers to suit his own purposes and interfiled with them some of his own material. According to Janet Mathews, Elkin did not return to the family all of the Mathews Papers that had been lent to him.
Aside from the correspondence, the most significant component of the papers is a collection of over thirty notebooks on aspects of Aboriginal anthropology. Some of these notebooks appear to have been compiled in the field.
Further papers, mostly relating to Mathews family history, were added in 2009.
Conditions Governing Access
Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property permission required for Indigenous material, permission from relevant communities required.
Please contact the Library via Ask a Librarian for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
Due to the cultural sensitivities contained within this material, the National Library of Australia does not have permission to authorise any copies or reproductions of this collection at this stage.
Once the Library has consulted and worked with the appropriate Indigenous community / communities to review the material and ensure that culturally appropriate access and use procedures are in place, some copies of this material may be authorised.
Please contact the Library via Ask a Librarian for more information.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Robert Hamilton Mathews, National Library of Australia, [class/series/file number]'.
The R.H Mathews Papers were presented to the National Library by Mathew's granddaughter-in-law, Janet Mathews, in 1987.
Further papers were added by the Mathews family in 2009.
The Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW (Sydney), also holds some R.H Mathews Papers.
When processing the papers, National Library staff decided to maintain the arrangement that Elkin had devised. Beyond that, the papers have been organised by Library staff into eight series based on form of material.
The component of the papers to which Elkin paid most attention is the correspondence, which consists of over 500 letters. Mathews corresponded with a large number of people interested in Aboriginal anthropology, including Reverence John Mathew, Carl Strehlow, Daisy Bates and Charles Winnecke. Elkin organised the letters Mathews received into groupings corresponding with the geographic region discussed in the letters. For example, letters discussing Aboriginal tribes in Victoria are filed together. Elkin itemised the correspondents for each region. An alphabetical index of correspondents' names can be found in the attached Appendices (see the Related documentation section).tab)
Cultural Sensitivity Advisory Notice
Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this collection may contain names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Please also be aware that you may see certain words or descriptions within these works which reflect the author's attitude, or that of the period in which the works were created, and may now be considered inaccurate, inappropriate or offensive.
Collection Retrieval Advice
Please note: each consignment in this collection has a separate box number sequence (i.e. there are multiple Box 1's). Please cite the relevant Class number as well as the Box number when requesting retrieval of material from the collection.
Robert Hamilton Mathews was born in 1841 at Narellan, New South Wales. After Qualifying as a licensed surveyor in 1870, he spent twenty years surveying northern New South Wales and was based initially in the New England region and, later, in Singleton. In 1889 he moved to Parramatta where he acted as deputy coroner and wrote Handbook to magisterial inquiries and coroners' inquests, which was issued in several editions. During the time he spent surveying in northern New South Wales he developed an interest in traditional Aboriginal life and customs, an interest which he pursued with vigour after his retirement from surveying in the early 1890s. For the next twenty years he researched and wrote on the social life, customs and languages of various Aboriginal tribes from all Australia. During this time he travelled widely, interviewing informants and conducting field research, and he corresponded extensively with a large number of amateur anthropologists. Between 1890 and 1910 he published over 150 articles on the Australian Aborigines in Australian and overseas anthropological and scientific journals. He had planned to produce a single large scale work on the Australian Aborigines, but this was not completed when he died at Parramatta in 1918. R.H Mathews as the father of the ornithologist Gregory Mathews.
(See: Australian Dictionary of Biography, volume 5)
Class MS 8006. Original consignments
Series 1. Diaries 1879-1913
Series 2. Correspondence, 1893-1918
An alphabetical index of correspondents is available in PDF form (refer to the Appendices attachment in the Related Documentation section).
Letters re Aboriginal carvings, paintings and ceremonial stones in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, 1894-1914 (File 12) - Box 2 (MS 8006)
Series 3. Notebooks, 1872-1910
Surveyor's notebook, New South Wales, 1872-1873 (Item 1 - Item 1) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Pocket notebook. RH Mathews, Surveyor. Hassall St. Parramatta (Item 1 - Item 2) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Field Book No. 1. Rock paintings and carvings by Aboriginals (Item 2 - No. 1) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Field book 'No. 2'. Possibly part of title, "Man and Woman, Bobbin Rock" (Item 2 - No. 2) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Field Book No. 5. Rock pictures of the Aborigines (Item 3 - No. 5) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Aboriginal languages of Victoria. Notebooks marked '1'. Includes Yarra, Kurnai, Wimmera, and other languages (Item 4 - vol 1) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Aboriginal languages of Victoria. Notebook marked '6. Languages NSW Victoria' (Item 4 - vol 2) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Thurga and Jirringan languages. Notebook marked '2'. Includes Jirringagn, Kamilaroi, Kogai, Anewn, Kumbainggerum and other languages (Item 5 - no 2) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Notebook marked '5. Thurga and Jirringan Languages' (Item 5 - no 5) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Thurawal and Kamilaroi languages. Notebook marked '3'. Largely about Kamilaroi language (Item 6 - no 3) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Thurawal and Kamilaroi languages. Notebook marked '4. darling River and Cobar notes. Thurawal Lang' (Item 6 - no 4) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
Languages, initiation ceremonies, organisation, etc (Item 7 - Criterion Hotel) - Box 3 (MS 8006)
The Burbang of the Wiradjuri tribes of the Murrumbidgee (Item 8 - Book 1) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
The Bora of the Gooringai tribes (Item 8 - Book 3) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
No. 1. Initiation Ceremonies of the Gundagai tribe, a Section of the Wiradthuri Community (Item 11 - No 1) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
The Intiation Ceremonies of the Lachan River Tribes - Wiradthuri Community. RH Mathews (Item 12 - Lachlan River) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
Initiation Ceremonies of the New England Tribes. RH Mathews (Item 12 - New England) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
No 4. Note Book of Aboriginal Initiation Ceremonies of Wiradthuri Tribe. RH Mathews (Item 12 - No 4) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
No 2. Initiation ceremonies of the Upper Murrumbidgee Tribes. Wiradthuri Community (Item 13 - No 2) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
Series 4. Working notes
Notes on Aboriginal phallic rites; division of tribes/blood relationships; and notes on the Thurawal and South Coast tribes (File 1) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
Largely unsorted working notes, maps and rough drafts on various aspects of Aboriginal anthropology, mostly undated, c. 1890-1910 (File 3) - Box 4 (MS 8006)
Series 5. Drafts
Drafts of, and extracts from, Aboriginal tribes of New South Wales and Victoria (File 1-2) - Box 6 (MS 8006)
Series 7. Miscellaneous papers, 1870-1946
Appointments, certificates, licenses, etc. re Mathews' work as a surveyor and magistrate, 1870-1904 (File 2) - Box 8 (MS 8006)
Holograph draft of "The Aboriginal Tribes of New South Wales" by ALP Cameron (File 3) - Box 8 (MS 8006)
Biographical/genealogical material on Mathews assembled by A. P Elkin - includes research notes; correspondence, 1942-46; and original Mathews Family documents (File 4) - Box 8 (MS 8006)
Series 8. Publications and reprints, 1890-1910
Unsorted collection of reprints and issues of Australian and overseas journals containing Mathews' articles on anthropology, many of which contain manuscript annotations and insertions. Some of the reprints are collected into leather bound volumes.
An item list of the contents of this series is available in PDF form - refer to the attached Appendices (under the Related Documentation section).
A list of published works by R.H. Mathews is also available in PDF form (refer to the attached Appendices in the Related Documentation section).
Box Locations for Series 8
Subseries 1: Items 1-124 - Box 9
Subseries 1: Items 125-233 - Box 10
Subseries 1: Items 234-386 - Box 11
Subseries 1: Items 387-530 - Box 12
Subseries 1: Items 531-535 - Box 13
Subseries 2: Items 536-545 - Box 13
Subseries 3: Items 546-569 - Box 13
Subseries 4: Items 570-589 - Box 14
Subseries 5: Volumes 1-5 - Box 15
Class MS Acc09.011. Consignment added 2009
Series. Family history folders (W W Mathews files)
Untitled - family history (red binder) - William Salt Archaeological Society (transcripts etc). (File) - Box 1 (MS Acc09.011)
Correspondence - some genealogical (burgundy binder) - family history transcriptions (File) - Box 1 (MS Acc09.011)
Small Album - binder with gold embossed flower - Family portraits - CDV - unidentified (File) - Box 2 (MS Acc09.011)
Series. Family history papers
Volume - Wills & Admons in Standaff Probate Registry - 1600-1825  - family history transcriptions (File) - Box 4 (MS Acc09.011)
Family history papers - folder including notes on the Mathews (by father David Mathew of Cardiff) - copy made by F M Mathews, 1933 (File) - Box 9 (MS Acc09.011)
Naming of Mathews Building (photograph) - Dr F M Mathews (photographs of) and copy of his speech at the opening (File) - Box 10 (MS Acc09.011)
Series. W W Mathews papers
Bibliography of articles on the custom of its Australian aborigines - R H Mathews (File) - Box 6 (MS Acc09.011)
Series. Janet Mathews papers
The Aboriginal spirit of life: this does not die / Janet Mathews, 1984 (File) - Box 11 (MS Acc09.011)
Series. R H Mathews papers
John Sands Directory (File) - Box 14 (MS Acc09.011)
Part 1 of 3 - see parts 2 and 3 in Folio Box 21.
Series. Family history notebooks and related papers
Compiled by William Washington Mathews (second-youngest son of R H Mathews).
Legal deeds and other material including correspondence and lockets (File) - Folio-Box 21 (MS Acc09.011)
Includes three lockets previously located in Box 13 but now rehoused in Box 21; also 1860s correspondence originally located in the John Sands box in Box 15 but now rehoused in Box 21 as Parts 2 and 3 of 3.