With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Outcry over word "Aboriginal" continues as historians push for ban on changing certificates

WA is the only jurisdiction in Australia to deem the word Aboriginal offensive and remove it from historical birth, death and marriage certificates.

The practice only came to light last month after keen family historian Garry Smith told the ABC about the word Aboriginal being whited out from his great-grandmother's death certificate.

He was told by the WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages the word had been redacted because it was an offensive term.

The incident has shocked archivists, genealogists and historians, who were unaware the registrar had the power to remove offensive material, let alone was exercising it.

It has also revealed a sharp divide between how the WA Government sees records of life events — as official identity documents they are charged to manage — and the views of researchers, including the growing number of amateur family historians, who see them as important historical documents. ...

Read entire article at ABC New (Australia)