Dr Wilhelm Lorenz Rechnitz

From 1948 to 1951, Dr Wilhelm Lorenz Rechnitz, an Anglican priest of German-Jewish heritage was Headmaster at the St Paul's Mission School on Moa Island, Torres Strait. Later, in 1954, he returned as the Reverend Dr Rechnitz and, until 1971, lived and worked predominantly in the Torres Strait.

Over the course of 24 years, he collated articles, journals, language and music translations, poems and photographic records of the Torres Strait Islanders amongst whom he resided. A prodigious linguist, his scholarship includes musical translation of traditional Torres Strait Islander hymns and languages.

Relatively unknown, the Dr Wilhelm Lorenz Rechnitz Papers contribute to an understanding of the Anglican Church in the Torres Strait. In addition, they provide intimate insight into the lives of Torres Strait Islanders at that time and Rechnitz's support of Torres Strait Islanders and their culture, which is captured in the following words from a letter written by Rechnitz:

"…whatever may happen then, do never cease to be what you are: be full Torres Strait Islanders".

The Dr Wilhelm Lorenz Rechnitz Papers include language and music recordings, Dr Rechnitz's translations of Torres Strait languages, various correspondence from 1939 to 1972, personal writings, including poems, and approximately 1000 photographs and negatives, the majority of which are of Torres Strait Islanders and communities.