In 1859 English public health nurse Florence Nightingale decided to conduct a study of the mortality rates in ‘native schools’ in Britain’s colonies. Since the 1837 publication of the House of Commons Report on the impact of British settlement on native people’s, there had been a speculative discourse about the decline of the Aboriginal populations in the colonies; concerns about Aboriginal health and welfare were debated frequently. New Norcia was included in Nightingale’s study and played a big part in Nightingale’s conclusions. This paper will discuss the study and New Norcia’s participation in it, with particular attention to the correspondence, questionnaires and reports that travelled between Salvado and Nightingale. This unique archive reveals not only Nightingale’s concern about the relationship between civilizing and Aboriginal ill-health in the colonies, but also shed’s light on Salvado’s remarkable insight into this delicate and fraught relationship. By analysing Salvado’s statistical collections and reports for Nightingale’s study on New Norcia’s Aboriginal residents, it is possible to understand that Salvado evaluated and repudiated the influential theory that the Aborigines were inevitably a dying race.
Field of Research
210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
Socio Economic Objective
950503 Understanding Australia's Past
HERDC Research category
C3.1 Non-refereed articles in a professional journal