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    Mrs. Daisy Bates at her desk in Adelaide, South Australia, 1941, by Smith, Darian D
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Bates, Daisy May (1863 - 1951)

CBE

Born
16 October 1863
Tipperary, Ireland
Died
18 April 1951
Prospect, South Australia, Australia
Occupation
Anthropologist and Journalist

Summary

A self-taught anthropologist, Daisy Bates conducted fieldwork amongst several Indigenous nations in western and southern Australia. She supported herself largely by writing articles for urban newspapers on such topics as 'native cannibalism' and the 'doomed' fate of Indigenous peoples. Bates also published her work on Indigenous kinship systems, marriage laws, language and religion in books and articles. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for Aboriginal welfare work in 1934.

Details

Daisy May Bates first arrived in Australia in 1884 and worked as a governess in Berry, New South Wales from 1884-1885. She worked on the Review of Reviews in London, 1894-1899, gaining expertise in journalism.

From 1899-1900 she was at the Trappist mission, Beagle Bay, north of Broome and in 1904 was appointed by the Western Australian government to research the tribes of the State. Bates was a member of an expedition led by A.R. Radcliffe-Brown to study the social anthropology of Aboriginal people of north-west Australia in 1910.

Over more than twenty years Bates camped at several locations in South Australia and Western Australia; Eucla, 1912-1914; near Yalata, 1915-1918; and near Ooldea, 1918-1934; She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for Aboriginal welfare work on January 1, 1934. She was a member of the British Royal Anthropological Institute and the Australasian Anthropological Institute.

Bates wrote her autobiography 'My natives and I' in a tent at Pyap, South Australia, 1935-1940. This was serialised in The Adelaide Advertiser and later edited and published as The Passing of the Aborigines in 1938. Her articles appeared in several newspapers, including The Catholic Record, The Western Mail, The Adelaide Advertiser, and The Children's Newspaper.

She lived in Wynbring, east of Ooldea, South Australia from 1941 until old age and failing health led her to return to Adelaide in 1945, where she remained until her death in 1951.

Bates is remembered in an ambivalent light by Indigenous and non-Indigenous folk-lore, and has been represented in children's literature, theatre, film and opera. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bates was given the affectionate name 'Kabbarli', meaning 'grandmotherly person'; the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia records that Anangu people living at Yalata have referred to Bates as 'Daiji Bate mamu' ('mamu' meaning ghost or devil) and as 'that poor old lady at Ooldea.'

Sources used to compile this entry: Horton, David (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture, Aboriginal Studies Press for AIATSIS, Canberra, 1994, 2 v. (xxxiii, 1340 p.) pp; Marcus, Julie; Lepervanche, Marie de; McBryde, Isabel; Prior, Mary Ellen Murray; White, Isobel; Morris, Miranda; O'Gorman, Anne; Marcus, Julie and Cheater, Christine, First in Their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1993; Wright, R. V. S., 'Bates, Daisy May (1863-1951)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A070209b.htm.

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Archival resources

Barr Smith Library, Special Collections, The University of Adelaide

  • Daisy May Bates - Records, 1900 - 1951; Barr Smith Library, Special Collections, The University of Adelaide. Details

Fryer Library and Department of Special Collections, University of Queensland

  • Letters to A. J. Vogan from the Secretary of the Association for the Protection of Native Races, 1930 - 1951, UQFL2; Papers of Edward Leo Hayes; Fryer Library and Department of Special Collections, University of Queensland. Details

JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia

  • Daisy Bates -Records, 1904 - 1935, ACC 1023 and others; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Daisy May Bates - Records, 1900 - 1950; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of Daisy Bates, 1900 - 1951, MS 365; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • Biographical cuttings on Daisy Bates, ethnologist; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Interview with Alvis Brooks, policewoman, concerning Daisy Bates; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

South Australian Museum Archives

  • Daisy May Bates - Records, 1900 - 1951, AA23; South Australian Museum Archives. Details

State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana

  • Daisy May Bates - Records, 1900 - 1950; State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Daisy May Bates - Records, 1905 - 1946, MS 9290, MS 7987; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

Digital resources

Title
Mrs. Daisy Bates at her desk in Adelaide, South Australia
Type
Image
Date
1941
Creator
Smith, Darian D

Details

Clare Land

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0050b.htm

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