In an exciting initiative, researchers are now able to preview a new Internet guide to the National Library’s rich holdings of Indigenous source materials.
Known as Mura Gadi, the guide describes manuscript, pictorial and oral history sources relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Library’s special collections. The name, contributed by Ngunnawal elder Matilda House, means ‘pathways for searching’ in the language of the Ngunnawal people, the original inhabitants of the region where the Library is located.
The Library’s Australian collections, which have been built up over a period of 100 years, include significant original source materials relating to Indigenous people. Mura Gadi has been developed as an Internet search tool to provide easier discovery of, and enhanced access to, these manuscripts, pictures and sound recordings, which currently receive brief entries in the Online Catalogue and the National Bibliographic Database. Harnessing the advantages of online access, Mura Gadi provides links to digitised copies of resources (where these are available), so that users can have immediate access to the collection wherever they live.
The indexed materials, which document aspects of Australian Indigenous history and culture, date from the eighteenth century through to the present day. At present Mura Gadi contains records for more than 100 manuscript collections, 300 oral history recordings, and 1000 pictures, both by and about Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Amongst the many formats represented in the guide are letters, diaries and research files, interview, folkloric and social history recordings, drawings, paintings and photographs.
Eddie Mabo, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Neville Bonner, Kevin Gilbert, ‘Nugget’ Coombs, Pat O’Shane and Charles Perkins feature amongst the many notable Australians listed in Mura Gadi.
Social history is also widely represented in projects such as the ‘Seven Years On’ oral history interviews commenced in the 1990s by Jackie Huggins and Peter Read, who set out to record young Indigenous Australian leaders and return to record them every six or seven years.