Digitised versions of the significant and foundational collection of sound recordings by Dr Luise Hercus, held in the AIATSIS archives, were presented back to Dr Hercus as part of the celebration of her 90th birthday held at the Australian National University this week.
Dr Hercus was one of the first researchers to receive support from AIATSIS for her fieldwork. Her collections lodged with AIATSIS contains over 1000 hours of sound recordings that cover over 56 languages and dialects. Among these are the only available sound recordings of Pantyikali, Nukunu, Woiwurrung, Dadi Dadi, Djadjala, Gunnai, Narungga, Wadi Wadi, Wergaia, Kurnu, and Nari Nari.
In anticipation of this significant milestone in Dr Hercus’ life, AIATSIS accelerated digitisation of her recordings so that a complete set of digital copies could be presented to her at the birthday celebration. The digitisation was completed on 14 January 2016 – just in time!
Collection Management Manager (Audio) Kazuko Obata said the material Dr Hercus deposited form some of the most valuable collections of sound recordings held by the AIATSIS Sound Archive.
The hard drive presented to Dr Hercus on the day contained over 1100 sound files and a reference list to the material. Dr Hercus was overwhelmed by the significance of the gift.
“I am just beginning to realise how enormous this present is, the one in the little pink bag! And it is marvellous having the reference list! I will get much joy out of it,” Dr Hercus said.
A book honouring Dr Hercus’ lifelong passion for linguistics was also produced for the occasion, entitled Language, land and song: Studies in honour of Luise Hercus. The 600 page book has over 30 contributors from the fields of linguistics, history and anthropology. The book will be published later this year.
A former AIATSIS staff member Grace Koch and Kazuko Obata contributed a paper entitled ‘I am sorry to bother you’: a unique partnership between Luise Hercus and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’.
Many people and organisations have contacted AIATSIS for copies of Dr Hercus’ recordings over the years. Such requests include those from Indigenous peopleswho want to connect or reconnect with their families, languages and songs, organisations working on native title claims, and researchersworking on language revitalisation projects and documentary film producers.
Learn more about the Sound collection.
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