Indigenous Heritage – Tindale Collection

What is the Norman Tindale Collection?

In 1928, Norman Tindale, an anthropologist and entomologist with the South Australian Museum, began visiting Aboriginal people living on missions and government stations. By the end of the 1950s he had photographed numerous Aboriginal people, collected cultural material and recorded a significant number of family trees (genealogies).

The South Australian Museum is the official custodian of the Norman Tindale Collection. Visit the South Australian Museum website for more information on the Tindale Collection. In the late 1980s the State Library of Queensland was permitted to hold the Queensland and relevant New South Wales genealogical and photographical components of the collection.

Access conditions

Although anyone can search the Tindale index, there are restrictions on those allowed access to the full family tree information and photographs because much of the information is private or sensitive.

  • Copies of genealogies and photographs are provided only to individuals or families who are researching their own family history.
  • Copies of genealogies and photographs are provided to Land Councils for the purpose of Native Title Claims upon the provision of a request on official letterhead with names of families researching the claim and claims number.
  • No copies of the material are to be reproduced in any form or published without prior written consent from appropriate Aboriginal families, communities and the South Australian Museum.
  • Any use of the information other than for private and study use is the sole responsibility of the person making the request.

You can access information at our Southbank building or complete the online Tindale Enquiry form.

Inaccuracies with the Tindale Collection

Tindale is an excellent resource for researching Aboriginal family history. There are, however, inaccuracies in the collection. Most of the inaccuracies occurred due to limited time that Tindale devoted to crosscheck the information obtained in the field with other sources or to return to the mission to re-check his previous information. It is advised that Tindale should not be your only source for family history.

If you require Tindale information for another state, please contact the Indigenous Information Centre of the South Australian Museum.

Photographs and drawings

There are over 900 photographs taken by Norman Tindale. The negative numbers or photographs are represented on the family sheet as numbers with an "N" in front of it (e.g. "N1329"). Photographs can be purchased from Image Orders, Document Delivery, Access Services. You must make sure you acknowledge that the photographs are from the Tindale Collection, otherwise you may be given an incorrect photograph.


State Library of Queensland,
Stanley Place,
PO Box 3488,

Telephone: +61 7 3840 7810
Fax: +61 7 3840 7873

Fill out our Online enquiry if you have a research enquiry (we will endeavour to provide an answer within 10 working days).

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