As avid supporters of the International Year of Indigenous Languages celebrations, State Library of Queensland and the Lutheran Archives entered into a partnership to digitise and to provide online access to Aboriginal language children’s booklets created in the 1970s.
These charming booklets, with titles such as Kija [Crabs], Wambiji [Platypus] and Kuku Ngujuji [Funny Stories] were translated into Kuku Yalanji and Guugu Yimidhirr, both languages from the Far North Queensland region near Cooktown.
The journey from discovery to digitisation to access began in late 2017 when Wujal Wujal’s Indigenous Knowledge Centre Coordinator Dawn Harrigan, Traditional Owner Marie Shipton and State Library Indigenous Services Program Officer Lauren Erickson undertook a professional development trip to the Lutheran Archives in South Australia. LA Director Rachel Kuchel provided access to a stunning collection of old photographs, historic documents, church correspondence and more; focused on the old Bloomfield River and Hope Vale Mission settlements dating back to the late 1800s. What an amazing collection!
The visit stirred poignant memories for Marie, who quickly discovered the colourful booklets she helped to transcribe into Kuku Yalanji over 40 years earlier, when she was a young teacher’s aide at the Bloomfield River State School. As Marie proudly read the books aloud in her traditional language, we knew we had an opportunity to help preserve these Aboriginal languages and provide access to future generations of children.
Fast forward to 2019 and State Library’s Specialist Librarian Catherine Cottle championed a collaboration with the Archives, who generously loaned the original booklets to State Library for digitisation. Queensland’s Department of Education’s Katherine Capper lent her copyright expertise to the project.
With many thanks to the partners and staff at State Library, digital copies of the booklets are now available: 32007 Lutheran Archive language books from Hope Vale, Bloomfield River State School and others. Check out the collection now online through State Library’s OneSearch catalogue!
Lauren Erikson and C. Cottle – State Library of Queensland