South Australian Museum Archives Visit – Ngaut Ngaut Interpretive Project

In mid-September I visited the South Australian Museum Archives to locate images that were to be used on the interpretive signage at Ngaut Ngaut. This aspect of the project was also approved by the Mannum Aboriginal Community Association Inc. (MACAI). Dr Amy Roberts had given me some ideas as to what to look for and I had a list of index numbers that corresponded to relevant archive collections. Throughout the process of content creation Amy had found a few images that she wanted to use on the signs. The problem was that these copies had very low resolutions. My archives visit was aimed at finding the original images and organising high-quality 600 dpi copies of the photographs and field book sketches.

On arriving at the archives I learned that ownership and copyright issues would dictate how we could use the images. For example, Tindale’s 1974 map of the distribution of Aboriginal groups in Australia could be used on some types of interpretation and not on others. This meant I had to record the exact location of the images and then leave it up to Amy to decide where the images would be used.

The visit was a worthwhile experience in that it allowed me to see how the archives worked. I really enjoyed looking through the ‘Harold Sheard Collection’. This collection featured dozens of original photos of Tindale and Sheard at Ngaut Ngaut back in the early 1930s. While the site has changed in recent decades, due to the installation of the tourist infrastructure, I was still able to discern parts of the rockshelter that I visited during the consultation meeting. This was really fascinating.

I also was interested to learn that a good portion of the archives’ content had been digitally copied. So, even though I went to search the archives, I still ended up using a database computer for the majority of my visit. I was expecting to search through crowded shelves to find what I was looking for. Thankfully, though, the archives have been proactive in their digital cataloguing.

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