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Aboriginal girls sewing
Title : Aboriginal girls sewing Aboriginal girls sewing
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Creator : Mountford, Charles P. (Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976, photographer
Source : PRG 1218/34/1562J
Date of creation : 1940
Format : Photograph
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Copyright :

The Library received cultural clearance from the Ara Irititja Project, to display this image. Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia.
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Description :

Six Aboriginal girls seated on the ground with their sewing, at Ernabella School.

Charles Mountford took this photograph on the 1940 University of Adelaide Expedition to Central Australia.

Ernabella Mission was established in 1937 by the Presbyterian Church of Australia which purchased Ernabella station, complete with a flock of just under 2000 sheep and several hundred goats. The school was opened in 1940 and working with the beliefs of its founder Dr Charles Duguid all teaching was conducted in Pitjantjatjara, the teachers in the early years learning the language on site. Children at the Mission were expected to attend school, but if their parents left the childen were free to go with them. Duguid and his missionaries considered that it was important that the people should be allowed to continue their traditional life and to instil those values in their children.

Initially the children attended school without clothing: Duguid considered that dirty rags were detrimental to their health, and a clean skin preferable. From 1957 older children began to wear clothes. Girls were taught sewing and eventually would be expected to cut and sew their own dresses. Hand and machine sewing were both taught. Craft workshops were also established and the women learnt to spin the wool from the mission's flock of sheep to make floor rugs and wall hangings. These incorporated striking designs and the craft centre grew and expanded to become the acclaimed Ernabella Arts centre.

Coverage year : 1940
Place : Ernabella
Region : Flinders Ranges and Far North - Outback
Further reading :

Hilliard, Winifred M The people in between: the Pitjantjatjara people of Ernabella London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1968

Sheppard, Nancy Sojourn on another planet [Collinswood, S. Aust.: Nancy Sheppard], 2004

Ernabella Mission [Australia : s.n., 197-?]

Mountford, Charles P. Brown men and red sand: journeyings in wild Australia Sydney: A. & R., 1964

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