European-Aboriginal relations in early Queensland, 1859-97

Winifred Cowin (1950). European-Aboriginal relations in early Queensland, 1859-97 Honours Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Winifred Cowin
Thesis Title European-Aboriginal relations in early Queensland, 1859-97
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1950
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Total pages 122
Language eng
Subjects 2103 Historical Studies
430101 History - Australian
Formatted abstract


Some kind of explanation is, I feel, necessary for the many inadequacies of this dissertation, especially for its brevity in relation to the largeness of the subject both in scope and in the period of time covered. The chief reason for this brevity lies in the nature of the subject, and the special difficulties of this period.


The data concerning this question is very limited in quantity and also very difficult of access. Much time has been wasted in going through unrelated material for the sake of gleaning the few observations of interest. This is especially true for the social aspects of the work, in the vital matter of the conditions under which natives lived in the towns and to a lesser degree on the stations once the districts were closely settled, lack of material has been very great. Concerning the Native Police, there has been more than sufficient material, and it is in this aspect that I have felt most sure of my ground. Certain material here was not however available - the reports returned to the Police Commissioner by Sub,Inspectors throughout the colony would have clarified the position concerning the charges of extermination levied against the Force.


The absence of any reliable History of Queensland has also been a great hindrance. The official publication of the Queensland Government "Our First Fifty Years" has been the chief source of such information as is used concerning the economic progress and financial state of the colony. The work of Bernays "Roll of the Queensland Parliament" has been of some help in elucidating the fluctuating state of the ministries, otherwise the points of view of political groups have been ascertained from memoirs particularly that of de Sagté.


It was obviously impossible to completely cover the newspaper sources for the period. In this matter I was helped by the references to newspaper articles in M.M. Bennett's "Christison of Lammermoor." These and such other articles as cropped up during the investigation of other facts, have been the sole source of information concerning public opinion in the colony. It has therefore been necessary to simplify the question by treating it according to the interests which prevailed in the colony e.g. squatting and sugar plantation interests and that of the town classes. This aspect of the work is necessarily very superficial, it has at most only been possible to present such views as I have found did prevail in the colony with no claim that these cover the whole field of public opinion.


Lack of any material on the native police pursued in New South Wales before Queensland's separation and of other colonies throughout the period with the exception of West Australia, has meant a considerable gap in a true understanding of the atmosphere of the period.


The brief account of the colony 1839-59 has only been given for such aspects of that period as influenced native policy within the main period which seemed to be of great importance. Here greater knowledge of the policy pursued in New South Wales in the period would have been of very great value.


The period covered has been a long way but I have been reluctant to shorten it as it possesses a natural unity. It is the pre-positive policy stage in history of the Native affairs of Queensland and though much use has been made of the year 1880 as a subdividing year within the period, it did not appear a sufficiently natural point to limit the period.


A conscious bias in favour of the belief that the natives were shamefully treated has also had to be overcome with the result that many early views have been considerably modified; it has been my intention to interpret the matter as arising solely from the conditions of the time and not to any deliberate curelty of the Europeans. The relative weight given to the evidence of individuals has necessarily been subjective so that evidence accepted as credible has been based solely on my estimation of the witnesses integrity and the plausibility of his statements.


The method of research adopted is in some measure responsible for the brevity of the dissertation. The plan followed has been to read every available document on the subject and then to elucidate a clear picture from this mass of data. It is unfortunate that the material has not been sufficiently abundant for a long dissertation for which the paucity of the material and the inexperience of the writer are to blame.

Keyword Aboriginal Australians -- Queensland -- History
Queensland -- History -- 1851-1891

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Tue, 10 Jul 2012, 13:11:45 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service