By Baldwin Spencer
By F. J. Gillen
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2010
Online Publication Date:April 2011
Original Publication Year:1912
Subjects: Australian History , Social and cultural anthropology
Eminent biologist Sir Baldwin Spencer (1860–1929) was born in Lancashire but moved to Australia to take up the chair in biology at the University of Melbourne in 1887. As a member of the 1894 Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia, Spencer made the acquaintance of F. J. Gillen, an advocate of Aboriginal rights, with whom he later formed a working partnership. Spencer and Gillen returned to Alice Springs in Central Australia in 1896–1897, to carry out observations on the local Aboriginal tribe, the Arunta. These observations were published in 1899, in The Native Tribes of Central Australia (also reissued in this series), which represented the most comprehensive study of Aboriginal customs. Gillen and Spencer continued to undertake fieldwork until 1903. Volume 2 of Across Australia (published in two volumes in 1912) describes Aboriginal tribes of the present-day Northern Territory, between Alice Springs and the Gulf of Carpentaria.