The thesis is a survey of attitudes to the Aborigines of Australia evident in the published work of the historians of Australia and of their treatment of the history of the Aborigines. The two topics are treated together in the presentation of material: the link between them is considered vital, and is discussed both in the body of the thesis and in its conclusion. The survey has been undertaken to reveal the direct, ongoing development of histories written and the continuity of attitudes within a tradition: it is also intended to indicate the contribution of historian s to general intellectual and popular traditions. As a survey, it does not pretend to definitively describe the work of every writer in the field. Neither does it deal primarily with unpublished and journal material. I have researched the most authoritative tools of the historian: their books.
Since history is both a specialised and a generalised discipline, I have taken cognisance of developments amongst the people most likely to be consulted by a historian seeking to improve his knowledge of the races the anthropologists of Australia. The transmission of the latter1s attitudes and methods is treated directly in the form of' acknowledged reference and indirectly as contribution to the attitudes of the society within which the historians studied and wrote.
I have sorted both these groups of people into themes, which are discussed within a chronological framework. Chapter One is designed as an example of the dichotomy that had developed by the end of the nineteenth century, epitomised in the writing of one man. Chapter Two briefly sketches opinion in tbe pre-Darwinian period, and Chapter Three introduces Social Darwinism. This movement is discussed as reflected in both history and anthropology; in the development of an orthodoxy and in a challenge to the opinions and concerns encompassed within that orthodoxy.
Chapter Four discusses the development of scientific anthropology and its waning reflection in the work of historians, who are proposed to have developed two slightly divergent emphases within their racial orthodoxy. Chapter Five deals with the results of the 1930’s, characterised as a period between a firm edifice of neglect and a new challenge to the apparent assumption of the unimportance of Aboriginal history, which is the concern of the sixth chapter.
Chapter Seven takes the writing of history to the time of writing the thesis. It proposes an increased divergence between anthropology and history centred directly on historical interpretation rather than the previous deviation in more anthropological terms, and alleges the existence of three themes within the historians. Chapter Eight, the Conclusion, further alleges the invalidity of all such approaches ………