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Mountford-Sheard Collection: Home

Charles Pearcy Mountford (1890-1976) was a South Australian ethnologist and ethnographer who advanced from amateur status to become an important figure in the field of anthropology in Australia. His archival collection (PRG 1218) contains photographs, field notes, diaries, artworks and correspondence. 

CP Mountford 1890-1976

Simpson Desert, 1938.
PRG 1218/34/871B 

Ernabella, 1940.
PRG 1218/34/1262Q

Over Arnhem Land, 1948.
PRG 1218/34/2841

Bust by John Dowie, c. 1960.
D 8661

The Collection

Spanning over 120 shelf metres, the Mountford-Sheard collection contains photographs, field notes, diaries, artworks and correspondence; items of great cultural significance to many Aboriginal communities, including those in Central Australia, Arnhem Land, the Tiwi Islands and the northern Flinders Ranges.

In recognition of this significance, the Collection has been inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

Drawing by Lanaliginja, Ernabella, 1940. PRG 1218/12C/1/122

Mountford's records were initially organised by friend Harold Sheard, and donated to the State Library in 1957. The name of the Collection was chosen by Mountford who wished to give due credit to Sheard's role in preserving his life's work.

After this initial donation, Mountford gradually added material, and in the 1960s the collection was organised within the Library under his direction. The Collection has since undergone rearrangement to reflect current contemporary archival practice.  

More information about the life of Charles Mountford can be found in his biography Monty : the biography of C.P. Mountford (Max Lamshed; 1972), or by accessing SA Memory.


Near Uluru, 1940Click on the series number to see the catalogue record detailing our holdings.

1928 - Panaramitee Station 
RG 1218/1/11. See also Unique example of Aboriginal rock carvings at  Panaramitee North, 1929

1935 - Commonwealth Board of Enquiry near Uluru PRG 1218/5 and SA Memory

1935 - Warburton Ranges PRG 1218/6

1936 - The Granites PRG 1218/7

1937 - Nepabunna Mission (two trips) PRG 1218/8 and SA Memory

1938 - Simpson Desert (search for possible remains of explorer Ludwig Leichhardt) PRG 1218/9 and SA Memory

1939 - Nepabunna Mission (two trips) PRG 1218/8 and SA Memory

1940 - Western Desert: Ernabella, Mann and Musgrave Ranges, Uluru and Kata Tjuta PRG 1218/11 and SA Memory

1942 - Ernabella, Hermannsburg Mission and Haasts Bluff PRG 1218/13

1944 - Central Australia: Haasts Bluff, Areyonga and Hermannsburg (with Albert Namatjira) PRG 1218/15

1948 - Arnhem Land PRG 1218/17 and SA Memory. See also Exploring the legacy of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition

1949 - Western Arnhem Land PRG 1218/17

1951 - Yuendumu PRG 1218/18

1952 - Eastern Arnhem Land PRG 1218/19

1953 - Uluru PRG 1218/21

1954 - Melville Island PRG 1218/20

1956 - Central Mt Wedge PRG 1218/22

1959 - Yuendumu PRG 1218/18

1960 - Uluru PRG 1218/23

1963 - Port Hedland area  PRG 1218/24

Published works

Mountford had some success with published accounts of his experiences, and books such as Brown men and red sand, The Art of Albert Namatjira, The Dreamtime Book (with paintings by Ainslie Roberts) and Australian Aboriginal portraits were well received by the public. 

A full list of Mountford's published works can be found on the catalogue, and individual titles can be searched by title.

Over 1,000 books and journal articles from Mountford's personal library were donated along with his archival records. These items have now been added to our Specials collection, and the titles are able to be browsed as well as searched in the catalogue.  


All access to the Mountford-Sheard Collection is by prior arrangement.

Please consult the catalogue and the list of Mountford's expeditions on this guide to ascertain which parts of the collection you wish to access.

For enquiries contact Ask Us 

If the material that you wish to access is deemed to contain sacred/secret content it cannot be viewed without permission from the relevant Aboriginal community.

Permission will also have to be sought if you wish to copy or publish images that contain Aboriginal people or Aboriginal intellectual property or traditional knowledge.

It is the responsibility of the customer to obtain these permissions. 

Repatriation policy

If your Community is represented in the Mountford-Sheard collection, please contact the Library for information about how we can return material of cultural significance to your Community under the terms of our Repatriation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities policy.

The policy enables the Library to provide material to Community-led projects on a cost-recovery basis (gratis if already digitised).

To date, more than 3,000 images, manuscript pages and sound recordings from the State Library's collection have been returned to Community under this policy.