Tasmanian Aboriginal history, collections, and access at Libraries Tasmania

lutruwita/Tasmania has a long and proud Aboriginal history spanning over 60 000 years, told in stories, ceremonies, and art, as well as being recorded in many documentary forms.

Libraries Tasmania recognises the deep histories and cultures of the Aboriginal people of lutruwita/Tasmania.  We acknowledge Tasmanian Aboriginal people as the traditional and continuing custodians of the land, waters and sky.  We pay respect to the Elders, past and present who hold the memories, traditions, culture and knowledge of Country.  We extend our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose Countries were never ceded.

Records of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and life in our collections

The Tasmanian Archives and State Library of Tasmania collections include government records and publications about Tasmanian Aboriginal people which were created in the context of government policies, decisions, societal beliefs, and actions that had major impact on Tasmanian Aboriginal families and communities. 

While a lot of this content does not reflect current understanding, it is provided in historical context as an important record of Tasmanian history.

We have a significant number of records and publications within the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives collections that can be used for research purposes. View our comprehensive research guide for more details.

These sources can contain confronting information about the lives and experiences of Tasmanian Aboriginal people since colonisation. Material in these collections also contains the names, voices and images of Tasmanian Aboriginal people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content.

The depth of the State Library of Tasmania collection is in large part due to the donation of the WL Crowther Library, as well as the bequest and ongoing development of the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts.

As a cultural institution, we recognise the lasting trauma experienced by Tasmanian Aboriginal people due to the actions of W L Crowther, Morton Allport and others via their association with the trading of body remains of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, including exporting these remains to Europe. 

Documenting your own Tasmanian Aboriginal ancestry

Many Tasmanian Aboriginal people use the material housed in our collections to document their Tasmanian Aboriginal ancestry.

To find out more about researching Tasmanian Aboriginal ancestry, see our research guide.

Becoming culturally safe libraries

Libraries across the State are accessed every day by people of many different backgrounds and experiences. Given the deep cultural significance of the collections held in the State Library of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Archives, we are working towards becoming a place of connection, healing, and reflection for Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

We recognise that due to the sensitivity and significance of these cultural collections, there is a responsibility to ensure the policies we have in place ensure culturally respectful services to Tasmanian Aboriginal people and First Nations people more broadly.

We are committed to and have commenced a journey to becoming culturally safe libraries and archives that provide an onsite and online environment that is emotionally safe for First Nations clients and employees.

Our aspiration is for Libraries Tasmania to be a place where people feel supported, and can express themselves and their culture, history and identity with dignity and pride in an environment that fosters shared respect, meaning, and knowledge and the opportunity to learn together without judgement.


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