Archival Science

, 9:7 | Cite as

Matjabala Mali’ Buku-Ruŋanmaram: implications for archives and access in Arnhem Land

  • Neparrŋa Gumbula
  • Aaron Corn
  • Julia MantEmail author
Original paper


This article traces the efforts of a research team led by the Yolŋu elder and scholar, Neparrŋa Gumbula, to investigate his people’s recorded history in the University of Sydney Archives. This research has identified some of the earliest photographic and written records of Yolŋu life in Arnhem Land, Australia. Though consultations with the source communities of Miliŋinbi (Milingimbi) and Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island), it has also determined appropriate ways of maintaining ongoing local access to these rare archived materials. The article contextualises this research within broader international initiatives to locate and provide access to other early ethnographic records from Arnhem Land. It considers the role of digital technologies in providing remote community access, and how various access protocols can be implemented to ensure appropriate use.


Archives Ethnography Aboriginal Australia Arnhem Land Yolngu Photography 



The authors would like to thank Robyn Flick, Hailey Dunn and Dr Jim Mant for their assistance during 2007 and 2008. Their dedication and time have been invaluable in the processing of the images and preparation of written material.


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Archival Sources

  1. The University of Sydney Archives, P130 The Personal Archives of Professor AP Elkin (1891–1979) Google Scholar
  2. The University of Sydney Archives, P205 The Personal Archives of Dr Annie Margaret McArthur (1909–2002) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Indigenous Fellow, Koori CentreThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Letters, Art, and MediaThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.The University of Sydney ArchivesSydneyAustralia

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