Finding the identities of John William Lindt’s famous photos, like this bushy-haired bearded man whose image was taken in 1873, has proved difficult but not impossible.
Finding the identities of John William Lindt’s famous photos, like this bushy-haired bearded man whose image was taken in 1873, has proved difficult but not impossible.

Stories behind photos known

WHO are these people? Who are their descendents? And what are their stories?

These are questions Jude McBean, from Grafton Regional Gallery, is finally closer to knowing.

She was referring to a collection of photographs of Clarence Valley Aborigines taken in the 1870s by German photographer John William Lindt.

That collection is safely in the hands of Grafton Regional Gallery, thanks to the generosity of Darling Point couple Sam and Janet Cullen, who paid $137,000 to stop the photos being sold to an overseas buyer in May 2004.

Last year Clarence Valley Council gave the gallery a grant of $6000, which enabled it to hire researcher Nola Mackey to search for descendents of those in the photographs.

“A couple of the elders of the area, like Robyn Bancroft and Ronnie Heron, invited other elders to come into this research group which represents Aboriginal families in the Clarence Valley who’ve been here since before European settlement,” Ms McBean said.

“Nola’s been researching locally and nationally to try and identify these people.

“In the process she’s more or less written about the history of Aboriginal people in the Clarence Valley since European settlement.”

Yesterday, the culmination of that research was a meeting at Grafton Regional Gallery where Nola Mackey revealed what she’d found.

Ms McBean said a number of people were identified as being descendents of those in the photographs.

She stressed, however, that it wasn’t an exact science due to the lack of records kept on indigenous people in the 1800s.

“As much as we can, we can say, well, this person appears to be this person’s descendent,” she said.

Now Ms McBean hopes more research can be done to track the history of those family groups between then and now.

That, however, was up to local Aboriginal people to decide, she said.



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