Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Anthropology in Adelaide pre-Yuendumu
The arrival of Frederic Wood Jones in Adelaide caused a great deal of excitement when he became Curator of the South Australia Museum in 1919. He was a dominant figure in medical science and anthropology and “was a gifted comparative anatomist and illustrator, as well as a fluent orator and writer” (Southcott, 1986). At the time, there was an enthusiastic group of men from several disciplines pursuing their interests in the physical and cultural anthropology of Central Australian Aboriginal people. Wood Jones succeeded Archibald Watson in 1920 as the Elder Professor of Anatomy at The University of Adelaide.
Since the settlement of South Australia there had been numerous studies of Aboriginal people, particularly by staff of the South Australian Museum. Tindale (1986) provided an excellent summary of previous anthropological research in the 19th and 20th centuries, including an extensive list of references. Among the group of Adelaide scientists in the 1920s was Thomas Draper Campbell, then a dental surgeon aged 27 years. Clearly influenced by Wood Jones, Campbell joined him on field expeditions.
Two significant events occurred in 1926: the formation of the Anthropological Society of South Australia by Wood Jones, Campbell and John B Cleland; and the establishment of the Board for Anthropological Research, following a recommendation by Wood Jones to the Council of The University of Adelaide. Wood Jones resigned the same year to accept a professorial appointment at the University of Hawaii.