Baldwin Spencer, 1860-1929

Biographical note

Australian anthropologist and ethnographer. His contributions to the field of anthropology were outstanding, his most famous work coming out of central Australia. He became Professor of Biology at the University of Melbourne, where he conducted taxonomic and biogeographic studies of Australian fauna. Spencer first experienced Aboriginal society with an expedition into central Australia. At Alice Springs, Spencer met F. J. Gillen, and formed a lasting relationship that took him into the field of ethnography and the study of the native tribes of central and northern Australia. He made several expeditions to central and northern Australia between 1894 and 1926, making representations on Aboriginal welfare to the Australian parliament in 1913. Spencer’s interpretation of Aranda society came under criticism at the time and his paternalistic conclusions are unacceptable to later scholars. His writings and pictorial records constitute, however, a unique and valuable archive of Aboriginal society.

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Works

  • The Native Tribes of Central Australia, by Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen [1899] [ read | print | download ]
  • Native tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia [ read | print | download ]

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