Margaret Lawrie Collection

The Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islands Materials is the culmination of the life's work of Margaret Lawrie, documenting the history, languages and cultures of the Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Margaret Elizabeth Lawrie was a contemporary of noted Aboriginal poet Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) and travelled widely with her throughout the 1950s and 1960s. During this time they were both important influences on the development of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.

Later, Margaret Lawrie became interested in the history and cultures of the Torres Strait Islander peoples and spent significant periods within the various Torres Strait Islands communities. She gathered information and material about the myths, legends, languages, history, art and culture of the region between 1964 and 1973.

Also contained within the collection are the manuscripts of the two works she published, Myths and legends of the Torres Strait and Tales from Torres Strait. The former work was published in both Australia and the United States and although currently out of print is still widely considered an iconic work.

The Margaret Lawrie Collection complements the earlier work done by Alfred Haddon. His expedition team from Cambridge University visited the Torres Strait in 1898, publishing the results of their regional ethnography in six volumes between 1901 and 1935.

There is also valuable information for family historians included in the collection. 

The Margaret Lawrie Collection has been included on UNESCO's Australian Memory of the World Register.

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