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Notebook on Queensland Aboriginal languages

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 291

Scope and Contents

This notebook has no formal title, but its introductory note is headed 'Townsville Cleveland Bay, Queensland, August 31 1885'. It is signed by Charles Price (1842-1926), a draper of Townsville. The volume contains 172 pages of vocabulary, compiled over 16 years of collecting, with Aboriginal words in alphabetical order on the left hand page and English translations on the right. It also includes notes on pronunciation (two pages) and translations of Aboriginal songs and chants (four pages). The precise reason for Price's compilation of the vocabulary is not known, but in February 1886 the volume was reported to have been sent to Brisbane to the Commissioners for the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, to be transferred to London for the exhibition which was held in South Kensington between May and November 1886. Further information on the notebook and Charles Price's life have been compiled by John Elliott, see


  • Creation: 1885 - 1886


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Charles Price was born in Oswestry, Shropshire, in 1842 and emigrated to Brisbane, Australia, in 1870, having travelled on the clipper ship ‘Young Australia’. He settled in Townsville, northern Queensland, and later married Ellen Shekelton in 1873. Price established a drapery business in Townsville under the name Charles Price and Company. In later life he worked briefly as a bailiff, debt collector and clerk. He died in January 1926 and was buried in Belgian Gardens Cemetery. After settling in Townsville, Price developed an interest in gathering and documenting the dialects of Aboriginal or First Nations peoples in northern Queensland, steadily compiling a notebook of vocabulary completed in 1886 and subsequently exhibited at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition. (Source: John Elliott, 2023).


1 volume(s) : paper

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The boards and several pages are detached from the volume.

Former / Other Reference

MSS 85 V

Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 167.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by the Executive Commissioners of Queensland at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1887.


This collection level description was created by RAS and MJC.

Includes index.
2005-09-27 09:58:52+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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