State Library of South Australia

Mountford-Sheard Collection

The Collection

Charles Pearcy Mountford (1890-1976), OBE, Dip. Anthrop. (Cantab), MA (Adel.), D.Litt. (Melbourne and Adelaide), was a South Australian ethnologist and ethnographer who advanced from amateur status to become an important figure in the field of anthropology in Australia.

His important and unique archival collection contains photographs, field notes, diaries, artworks and correspondence. Spanning over 120 shelf metres, the Collection includes items of great cultural significance to many Aboriginal communities, most notably those in Central Australia, Arnhem Land, the Tiwi Islands and the northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia. In recognition of this significance, the Collection has been inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

Mountford's records were initially organised by friend Harold Sheard, and donated to the State Library in 1957. The name of the Collection was chosen by Mountford who wished to give due credit to Sheard's role in preserving his life's work. Mountford gradually added material, and in the 1960s the collection was organised within the Library under his direction. The Collection is currently in the process of being more comprehensively described and much of its contents may be discovered via the Library catalogue by searching PRG 1218 as an archival number.

More information about the life of Charles Mountford can be found in his biography Monty : the biography of C.P. Mountford (Max Lamshed; 1972), or by accessing SA Memory.

View a list of Mountford's published works or search the Library catalogue.

Viewing/Copying requests

Access to the Mountford-Sheard collection is through Library staff only.

Enquiries contact

Suzy Russell
Phone: 61+ 8 8207 7308

Postal address:
Indigenous Collections
State Library of South Australia
GPO Box 419
Adelaide SA 5001

All access to the Collection is through Indigenous Collections staff by prior arrangement. Customers may be asked to supply a research statement outlining their request to access the collection. This will help library staff to facilitate a more accurate and timely response to enquiries.

Please consult the catalogue and the list of Mountford's Expeditions below to ascertain which parts of the collection you wish to access.

If the material that the customer requires access to is deemed to contain sacred/secret content it cannot be viewed without permission from the relevant Aboriginal community.

Permission will also have to be sought if the customer wishes to copy or publish images that contain Aboriginal people or Aboriginal intellectual property/ traditional knowledge.

It is the responsibility of the customer to obtain these permissions. Library staff can provide possible contact details for the appropriate community, but do not organise permission. Customers should be aware that the process of gaining approval may take some time, perhaps months, and permission will not necessarily be granted.

Those wishing to access the Mountford-Sheard collection should also be aware that due to the nature of the source material there may be errors or omissions in the use of place and personal names, dates and expedition details.


1928 and later - Panaramitee Station, near Yunta, South Australia. PRG 1218/1/11 and see also "Unique example of Aboriginal rock carvings at  Panaramitee North, 1929 C.P. Mountford" [Collected pamphlets on Anthropology] : Vol. 2 

1935 - Commonwealth Board of Enquiry into the alleged ill-treatment of Aboriginal people near Uluru (Secretary). PRG 1218/5 and see also SA Memory

1935 - University of Adelaide expedition to Warburton Ranges, Western Australia (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/6

1936 - University of Adelaide expedition to the Granites, Northern Territory (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/7

1937 - South Australian Government expedition to the Simpson Desert to search for possible remains of explorer Ludwig Leichhardt (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/9  and see also SA Memory

1937 - University of Adelaide expedition to Nepabunna Mission, Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/8 and see also SA Memory

1937 - Solo expedition to Nepabunna Mission, under aegis of Board of Anthropology, University of Adelaide. PRG 1218/8 and see also SA Memory

1939 - University of Adelaide expedition to Nepabunna Mission (Leader). PRG 1218/8 and see also SA Memory

1939 - Solo expedition to Nepabunna Mission as before. PRG 1218/8 and see also SA Memory

1940 - University of Adelaide expedition to Western Desert, Mann and Musgrave Ranges, Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Main destination Ernabella Mission, Musgrave Ranges (Leader). PRG 1218/11 and see also SA Memory

1942 - University of Adelaide expedition to Ernabella, Hermannsburg Mission and Haastes Bluff (Leader). PRG 1218/13

1944 - Expedition to Central Australia: Haastes Bluff, Areyonga and Hermannsburg, for Dept of Information, "to secure films of Central Australia and pictures painted by Albert Namatjira." PRG 1218/15

1948 - American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land (Commonwealth Government, National Geographic and Smithsonian Institute of USA) (Leader). PRG 1218/17. See also SA MemoryBarks, Birds and Billabongs symposium and Exploring the legacy of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition.

1949 - Commonwealth Government expedition to Western Arnhem Land (Leader). PRG 1218/17

1951 - University of Adelaide Expedition to Yuendumu, Northern Territory (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/18

1952 - Commonwealth Government expedition to Eastern Arnhem Land (Leader). PRG 1218/19

1953 - University of Adelaide expedition to Uluru, Northern Territory (Leader).  PRG 1218/21

1954 - Commonwealth Government, National Geographic and Smithsonian Institute to Melville Island (Leader).  PRG 1218/20

1956 - University of Adelaide Expedition to Central Mt Wedge (Leader).  PRG 1218/22

1959 - University of Adelaide expedition to Yuendumu (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/18

1960 - Small personal expedition to Uluru (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/23

1963 - University of Adelaide expedition to Port Hedland area, Western Australia (Ethnologist). PRG 1218/24

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