Odds and quads - 25 July 2013

The notebooks of Lieutenant William Dawes (1762-1836), part of the special collections at Soas, University of London, are a major source of information about one of the many indigenous languages of Australia

July 25, 2013

Born in Portsmouth, Dawes joined the Royal Marines at 17, fought in the American Revolutionary War and gained recognition as an astronomer. He was recommended by the Astronomer Royal to join the “First Fleet” to New South Wales and monitor a comet expected to appear in the southern hemisphere in 1788.

Once he had reached Sydney and built his observatory, Dawes began to record the local Aboriginal language, Eora. His notebooks go well beyond simple lists of words and include many snippets of conversation that are highly revealing about the cultures, social contexts, personalities and feelings of the people with whom he interacted.

Digitised in 2009, with additional funding from the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project and Aboriginal Affairs NSW, the notebooks have since been consulted by several novelists as well as a playwright who is writing a work about Patyegarang, the young woman who helped Dawes document the Eora language.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

looking through a gap

University appeals ICO notice to publish report on refusal to take part in league tables