Margaret Lawrie Collection

The Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islands Materials is the culmination of the life's work of Margaret Lawrie, a contemporary of a contemporary of noted Aboriginal poet Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal). She was deeply interested in the history and cultures of the Torres Strait Islander peoples and spent significant periods within the various Torres Strait Islands communities during the 1950s, 60s and early 1970s.

Between 1964 and 1973, Margaret Lawrie recorded many Torres Strait Islander genealogies (family trees) and other cultural information, including myths, legends, languages, history, art and culture of the region. The material relates to seventeen Torres Strait Islander communities:

  • Badu
  • Mabuiag
  • Thursday Island
  • Bamaga (located on the mainland)
  • Muraleg (Prince of Wales Island)
  • Ugar
  • Boigu Island
  • Murray Island
  • Warraber
  • Dauan Island
  • Naghir (Mount Ernest Island)
  • Yam Island
  • Erub (Darnley Island)
  • Poruma (Coconut Island)
  • Yorke Island
  • Horn Island
  • Saibai
  • Kubin Village / St Pauls (Moa Island)
  • Seisia (located on the mainland)

The Margaret Lawrie Collection was donated to the State Library of Queensland in 1996. More information.


State Library has digitised the genealogical charts and a dedicated team of volunteers  have created an online index of names recorded in the genealogies. Although anyone can search the index, because much of the information is private or sensitive, there are restrictions on who can access the full family tree information.


Online exhibition

ReTold - A re-telling of stories and songs from Myths and legends of the Torres Strait

See also

Jorn Harbeck's paper about the Margaret Lawrie Collection [PDF 12 kb] delivered at the Access to Indigenous Records National Forum in 2003

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