Explore the Howitt and Fison Archive

Over 100 years ago Aboriginal people worked with Gippsland magistrate A. W. Howitt and Methodist missionary Lorimer Fison, as well as a network of settler colonists, to document kinship, culture and language from around Australia. This website presents some of the transcribed letters, notebooks and other documents gathered by these early anthropologists and subsequently deposited in the State Library of Victoria, Museums Victoria and St Marks National Memorial Library, Canberra.

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Note: These materials may include sensitive information. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people please be aware that these archives contain names and identification of deceased persons.

Users of this website are advised that the information offers various representations of Aboriginal culture and history, but these are not authoritative nor definitive.

The Howitt and Fison Archives Project brought together contemporary Aboriginal communities, historians, anthropologists, linguists and volunteers to work on these powerful materials. We acknowledge that they were created as a direct result of the cultural expertise of Aboriginal informants who shared and explained their languages, traditional stories, songs, kin and social relations to settler-colonists as they struggled with dispossession and tremendous social upheaval.

This website only displays documents where permission for public access has been granted from the contemporary Aboriginal communities mentioned in the material. Those seeking to use these documents, in any manner, must contact the holding institution and obtain written permission from the relevant Aboriginal community. Further transcriptions may be added if permission is granted. For those materials not yet displayed, a place holder will indicate the holding institution for transcribed documents. The website is hosted by Museum Victoria.