Lecture 7 - Chinese-Aboriginal Families of Northwest Queensland: A Focus on Archival Resources

Date:  Thursday, 2 December 2021

Time: 4pm-5pm  (Sydney time)

Following Federation,  Chinese-Aboriginal families in Queensland laboured under numerous legislative frameworks including the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act (1897) which could be construed as designed to discourage the existence of these families. Simultaneously Indigenous and Alien in their own Country, Aboriginal women either legally married to or in long-term relationships with Chinese men, were subjected to scrutiny by the local police engaged in their diverse legislative roles.  The ambiguous status of these women led to widespread confusion by those in authority of how they should be treated resulting in unequal application of the law. For example, under the War Precautions (Alien Registration) Regulations 1916, only some Aboriginal women and their Queensland-born children were registered with the Chinese husbands. Other families were either ignored or referred to higher authorities by the local Protectors.  This intense surveillance generated a trail of correspondence some of which is preserved in the Queensland State Archives and the National Archives of Australia.

This presentation follows several families as they negotiate the legislation and the individuals charged with mediating their relationships and way of life. It will also focus on the research methodology undertaken and highlight the existence of record sets which will be of interest to the descendants of Chinese-Aboriginal families from across Northern Australia.

Dr Hilda Maclean
is an alumna of the University of Queensland. When she was attached to the University of Queensland Culture1880694 and Heritage Unit, she undertook historical and genealogical research centred on the Burke Shire and was a contributor to The Gulf Country (2019) by Dr Richard Martin. Hilda regularly presents at conferences on many aspects of the lives of Chinese in Queensland derived from original archival research.