From its early days as the first collecting institution in the new settlement of Port Phillip, the State Library of Victoria has been in a unique position to develop its holdings of books, photographs and other material relating to Aboriginal people.
In Victoria, Aboriginal people refer to themselves as Koori. It is a term that is shared with other Aboriginal groups from New South Wales (NSW). A multi-dimensional relationship exists between the Aboriginal groups of the Murray Darling (central NSW) Basin, the Goulburn River Basin (Central Victoria) and the Murray Delta (South Australia). These relationships were the subject of an extensive research project carried out in the mid 1960s by Dianne Barwick.
Australian Manuscripts has many early records of squatters and landholders that refer to the traditional owners, such as the James Dredge diaries.
There are hundreds of heritage photographs in the Pictures Collection – Koori people were a favourite subject amongst these pioneers – for example, the Carl Walter collection.
The Arts collection offers a chance to experience a more contemporary view of Aboriginal culture through books and journals on Aboriginal art and audio and video of Indigenous (Koori, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) performers, including poet Kevin Gilbert and musician Archie Roach.
The Library has also published two bibliographies covering printed material from the time of early white settlement.