May O'Brien: Early Influences, Early Life - 1829-1950

May O'Brien (1933-2020) was a determined woman whose advocacy in Aboriginal education, and more broadly Aboriginal rights, made a significant impact on how these areas have evolved over the last 70 years. Over the decades May built up a broad research library, which she bequeathed to Edith Cowan University, comprehensively tracing the development of Aboriginal Education in Australia, of which her own research papers form a part.

This exhibition draws on early materials in May's collection, some produced during her childhood, but also from earlier sources. These show the impact of European colonisation; on Australia and its first inhabitants, the attitudes towards Aboriginal people, their culture and landscape in literature and educational material.

A few of the texts were written by people significant in May's early life, Rodolphe Schenk, the missionary who started the Mount Margaret Mission in 1921  and Mary M. Bennett, a missionary who taught at the Mount Margaret Mission school when May was first there, who was an advocate for Aboriginal rights.

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spiegeltent interior