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Archives In Brief 44 - Aboriginal Schools 1876-c.1979

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Outlines the main records held by State Records relating to Aboriginal Schools. Other records may be identified in A Guide to NSW State Archives relating to Aboriginal People, Archives Investigator, and State Records' other finding aids.

Background

The establishment of separate Aboriginal Schools in New South Wales led to the creation of records dealing almost exclusively with the primary education of Indigenous children.

Governor Macquarie founded the first school for Aboriginal children, the Native Institution, in 1814. Located in Parramatta it operated until 1822 when it was succeeded by the Native Institution at Blacktown, which closed in c.1830. Records relating to the Native Institutions can be found in the Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 and in Archives Investigator listed under Agency No. 401, Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands.

Education for all children in New South Wales became compulsory in 1880 with the proclamation of the Public Instruction Act. Initially the Act supported one public school system. Over time social attitudes, supported by the policies of the Department of Public Instruction, led to the establishment of separate Aboriginal Schools. Early policies supporting segregation permitted Aboriginal children to attend the local school only if they were adequately dressed and well fed, or 'clean, clad and courteous'1. The practice of separating Aboriginal children from the non-Aboriginal local school system was illustrated in 1902 with the 'exclusion on demand' policy. The then Minister of Education gave instructions to schools in NSW to remove Aboriginal children upon the request of white parents. The removal of Aboriginal children from local schools created a continuing need for separate Aboriginal Schools.

[1] J.J. Fletcher (1989) Clean, Clad and Courteous: A History of Aboriginal School Education in New South Wales. Southwood Press, New South Wales pp.8 & pp.61

School files 1876-1979

School files generally contain the following information: applications for the establishment of schools; the school's progress and physical provision; and information on teachers. The following list of Aboriginal schools has been extracted from the full list of School files, 1876-1979. It includes all of the Aboriginal Schools run by the Department of Public Instruction (later Education, now the Department of Education and Training).

This list of Aboriginal schools has been extracted from the full list of School files, 1876-1979.

School files 1881+, NRS 3931

NRS 3931 In addition to the School files, schools created a variety of other records. These include:

  • Admission registers record the admissions and departures of children. They record: personal details; date of leaving last school; and details of parent or guardian
  • Examination books record pupils' examination results including subject, place in grade as well personal details.
  • Observation books consist of inspectors' general observations on the operations of the school. They do not generally contain mention of individual pupils.
  • Programme and lesson registers list of the lessons and curriculum which were followed by various classes in a school. They cover the whole range of subjects taught to a particular class.
  • Punishment books consist of details of punishments meted out to pupils. They provide: name; age; nature of offence; amount of punishment; instrument of punishment; and by whom inflicted.
  • Visitors' books record the names of any visitors and any remarks made by the visitor such as 'incidental visit', 'ordinary inspection', or 'very pleasant afternoon'.

The following list is of School Records NRS 3931 held for those Aboriginal Schools administered by the Department of Education and Training.

SchoolType of RecordDatesItem

Brungle (Public)

Daily report book

1899-1912

[1/4602]

Admission register

1906-34

[1/4603]

History of Brungle school

1868-1940

[1/4604]

Newspaper cuttings

1968

[1/4605]

Observation book

1931-46

[1/4606]

Observation book

1907-64

[1/4607]

Photographs

1896

[1/4608]

Visitors' book

1915-54

[1/4609]

Visitors' book

1938-50

[1/4610]

Visitors' book

1931-47

[1/4611]

Programme and Lesson register

1967

[1/4612]

Admission register

1915-49

[1/4613]

Punishment book

1898-1969

[1/4614]

Lesson register

1914

[1/4617]

Cubawee Aboriginal (Provisional) School

Admission register

1942-63

[1/4006]

Cummeragunja Aboriginal School

Visitors book

1953-70

[1/7927]

Admission register

1944-71

[1/7428]

Googeedee Aboriginal School

See Brungle (Public)

Kinchela Aboriginal School

Visitors' book

1951-62

[1/9812]

Punishment book

1952-62

[1/9813]1

Admission register

1923-62

[1/9814]1

Observation books

1934-61

[41/2024.1-2024.2]2

Nanima

Examination book

1955-61

[1/6850]

Examination book

1962-67

[1/6851]

Examination book

1958-67

[1/6852]

Observation book

1935-54

[1/6853]

Visitors' book

1950-61

[1/6854]

Visitors' book

1902-69

[1/6855]

Punishment book

1949-69

[1/6856]

Programme and Lesson register

1958

[1/6857]

Programme and Lesson register

1958

[1/6858]

Programme and Lesson register

1959

[1/6860]

Programme and Lesson register

1960

[1/6861]

Programme and Lesson register

1961

1/6862]

Programme and Lesson register

1962

[1/6863]

Programme and Lesson register

1963

[1/6864]

Programme and Lesson register

1963

[1/6865]

Programme and Lesson register

1964

[1/6866]

Programme and Lesson register

1964

[1/6867]

Programme and Lesson register

1965

[1/6868]

Programme and Lesson register

1966

[1/6869]

Ngoorumba Provisional School

Punishment book

1908-11

[1/10755]

Nulla Creek Aboriginal School

Half-yearly exam book

1964-69

[1/3619]

Stock book

1948-58

[1/3685]

Record of condemnings

1974-75

[1/3686]

Equipment register

1963-74

[1/3688]

Visiting clergy

1964-73

[1/3691]

Punishment book

1954-75

[1/8663]

Admission register

1964-75

[1/8664]

Observation book

1939-65

[1/8665]

Visitors' book

1949-72

[1/8666]

Visitors' book

1969-73

[1/8667]

Tabulam Aboriginal School

Visitors' book

1938-67

[1/9806]

Admission register

1944-67

[1/9807]

Punishment book

1953-67

[1/98085]

Observation book

1952-67

[5/2020.3]2

Walgett Aboriginal School

Visitors' book

1941-69

[1/4003]

Punishment book

1956-69

[1/4004]

Admission register

1941-69

[1/4005]

Wallaga Lake Aboriginal School

Punishment book

1951-63

[39/2059]

Admission register

1926-64

[39/2060]

Observation book

1928-49

[39/2042.5]

Observation book

1952-64

[39/2042.6]

Visitors' book

1958-64

[39/2042.7]

Stock book

1955-64

[39/2042.8]

Woodenbong Aboriginal School

Admission register

1925-64

[1/10021]

Punishment book

1926-62

[1/10022]

Visitors' book

1963

[1/10023]

Observation books

1945-61

[35/2020.1-2020.2]2

Wreck Bay Aboriginal School

Visitors' book

1952-64

[1/10024]

Admission register

1931-64

[1/10025]

Punishment book

Other sources

For more records relating to Aboriginal people, researchers should consult A Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to Aboriginal People, available in State Records' reading room. Another useful source is Archives in Brief 26 - Schools 1788-c.1979, which provides a brief history of public education in NSW.

Note on the content of some records

Researchers should be aware that the records may contain language, descriptions and opinions which reflect the author's attitude or that of the period in which the records were written. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may consider some of the records to be inappropriate and offensive.

Contacts

For more information on State Records relating to Aboriginal people please contact the Manager Public Access, on telephone (02) 9673 1788 or email accman@records.nsw.gov.au.

Access

Punishment books are closed to public access for 50 years. All other records more than 30 years of age and listed in this Archives in Brief are open to public access. For information on how to access the records please contact State Records.

Researchers should consult the Register of Access Directions to confirm the public availability of records. State Records' staff can advise you on the availability of records if they are not listed on the register.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
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