Tindale genealogies

The South Australian Museum has a large and important collection of photographs of Aboriginal people, together with accompanying genealogies. Many of these are the work of Norman Tindale from the 1930s to 1950s. Anthropological collections like the Tindale collection provide genealogical information about Aboriginal families.

What are the Tindale genealogies?

Norman Tindale was an anthropologist based at the South Australian Museum. He recorded vast amounts of genealogical and other information about Indigenous communities from all over Australia, the majority being collected during the 1920s and 1930s.

Over 50,000 Indigenous people are included in the genealogies. The records also include thousands of named photographic portraits.

The genealogies are charted in hand-written field notes, usually with one extended family included on each chart. Some charts trace families back as far as 1860 and can sometimes include the language groups and/or traditional names of people, where a family member was born or lived as well as other brief notes about them. Charts are numbered and are referenced with the date and place where the information was gathered. Charts indicates if the families of connected individuals are mapped out in more detail on a related chart.

WARNING: Tindale, like many anthropologists/scientists from the 1920s and 30s was very interested in ‘caste’, the ‘admixture of Aboriginal and European blood’, and therefore his notes may contain racist and offensive language.

What information do you need to search the genealogies?

To protect the privacy of the people whose personal information was recorded by Tindale, access to the Tindale genealogies is limited. Usually only direct descendants and persons with permission from families or communities can view and copy the genealogies.

To start searching you need to know:

  • the place your family came from or where they lived
  • the name of the person or people you are researching.

Where do I find the Tindale genealogies?

The Tindale collection, which includes the genealogies, is held in the South Australian Museum Archives. Various state and community organisations also have copies of the genealogies relevant to their region. To apply for family history information that may be held by the SA Museum, you can fill in a Family History Application Form, available online or from the Museum Archives.

All of Australia

The South Australian Museum is the custodian of the complete Tindale collection as well as other records related to families and communities all around Australia. You will need to contact the Family and Community History Consultant to access and view the material. For more information about the Tindale collection explore the South Australian Museum website or search the following terms and links.

Tindale Genealogies and photographs in other repositories

New South Wales

The State Library of New South Wales has copies of genealogical charts and photographs from nine NSW communities, mostly collected through 1938. These include Boggabilla, Brewarrina, Cummeragunga, Kempsey, Menindee, Pilliga, Walgett, Wallaga Lake and Woodenbong. Check the Index to the NSW Tindale Genealogies  [PDF 196 kb] on the State Library website before making an appointment with one of the library’s Indigenous services librarians.

Muda Aboriginal Corporation holds copies of genealogies for Brewarrina only. Ph: (02) 6872 1869 or Email muda@muda.com.au

Dhiiyaan Indigenous Centre in Moree holds copies of genealogies for all of New South Wales (Cnr Balo & Albert Streets, Moree NSW 2400, Ph: (02) 6752 1346).

Northern Territory

Tindale collected genealogies from Aboriginal people in the following places in the Northern Territory: Cockatoo Creek, Granites and Mount Leibig. They are held by the South Australian Museum. See All of Australia above.

Queensland

The State Library of Queensland has copies of genealogical information and photographs for the Queensland Aboriginal communities of Yarrabah, Cherbourg, Mona Mona, Palm Island, Woorabinda, Bentinck Island, Doomadgee and Mornington Island, as well as two northern New South Wales communities at Boggabilla and Woodenbong. You can search the library’s Norman Tindale Collection Alphabetical Index on the State Library website.

Townsville City Libraries Indigenous (Murri) Services holds copies of Tindale genealogies for Queensland. See the CityLibraries website for more information

South Australia

Tindale collected genealogies from Aboriginal people in the following places in South Australia: Koonibba, Macumba, Mirramitta, Nullabor, Pandi Pandi, Point McLeay, Point Pearce, Port Augusta and Swan Reach. They are held by the South Australian Museum. See All of Australia above.

Tasmania

Tindale collected genealogies from Aboriginal people in Cape Barren Island in Tasmania. The Riawunna Aboriginal Education Centre at the University of Tasmania holds copies Ph: (03) 6226 2772.

Victoria

Tindale collected genealogies from Aboriginal people in Lake Tyers in Victoria. They are held by the South Australian Museum. See All of Australia above.

Western Australia

The Aboriginal History Research Unit in the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs holds copies of the Tindale genealogies, photographs and journals, as well as other anthropological records relating to Aboriginal people in Western Australia. See the Department of Aboriginal Affairs website for more information.

The Aboriginal History Research Unit in the WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries holds copies of the Tindale genealogies, photographs and journals, as well as other anthropological records relating to Aboriginal people in Western Australia.

Tindale collected genealogies from Aboriginal people in the following places in Western Australia: Albany, Balgo, Borden, Broome, Christmas Creek, Collie, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Forrest River, Gnowangerup, Gogo, Gordon Downs, Inverway, Jigalong, Laverton, Leopold, Liveringa, Margaret River, Meda, Moola Boola, Moore River, Mount Barker, Noonkanbah, Norseman, Quanbun, Southern Cross, Sturt Creek, Wiluna and Wotjulum.

Last reviewed: 19 Dec 2018