by Regina Ganter, 2017

Purpose of this site

Missionary endeavours had a significant foundational influence on the practical outcomes of colonial protection policies. Aboriginal people remember the ‘mission time’ as the system of institutionalised reserves and dormitory-based education of Aboriginal children that characterized both Christian missions and secular government reserves, and the 2007 National Apology acknowledged the pain of Aboriginal child removals. But beyond the forced removals and spatial containment of Aboriginal people to missions and reserves, missions also harbor a complex history of multi-layered cultural encounters.

This web-directory provides an overview of German missionary activity in Australia. It contains entries on all Christian missions that were staffed by Germans ('Missions'), as well as biographies of mission staff ('Biographies'). There are also background entries on the mission training institutions from where the German missionaries came ('Missionary Training') and some comparative review of the earliest mission endeavours in Australia to position the German participation, which was about half of all mission endeavours in the Australian colonies up to 1850. In Australia only Tasmania had no German missionaries.

The entries examine the backgrounds, the training, and the hopes of German missionaries, the quarrels they had with each other and with governments, and the difficulties they faced in coming to terms with an unfamiliar social, cultural and natural environment. We see their weaknesses, mistakes and misinterpretation of indigenous culture, their attempts to recreate a familiar home environment and familiar cultural conventions, and the complex force-field of social dynamics which continually undermined their efforts.

Archival material from Australian and German repositories illuminates these Germans engaged in a difficult cultural encounter with indigenous and British Australia. Much of the material on which these entries are based is held by the mission institutions that trained the missionaries, and has not been accessible in Australia. Even some material held in Australia is impossible for most interested researchers to decipher because of the German handwriting in the non-Latin old German Sütterlin and Kurrent scripts. Only at the Lutheran Archives in Adelaide a large team of dedicated volunteers has set about transcribing and translating the handwritten documents held there. 

Hey Report in 1891


A sample of handwriting showing the difference between Latin script, used for all English and non-German words, and Sütterlin script used for the German text.

The German part reads:

Werther Br. Connor! Obwohl die Hitze und Plage der Moskito das Schreiben beinahe zur Unmöglichkeit machen, möchte ich doch, Zeit und Gelegenheit welche mir zu Gebote steht benutzen und dir einige von meinen bis jetzt gemachten Erfahrungen zusenden. ....  

On this website passages translated or transcribed from the original handwriting are shown in italics.


Most historical material dealing with missions examines a mission or mission institute by itself. This obfuscates the way in which they were connected with each other, when different communities of faith competed for ‘spheres of influence’ and learned from each other’s examples and mistakes.   In most cases the explanations for a failed mission are merely the difficulties also encountered by successful ones. Reading the various missions side by side allows very different patterns to emerge.

The keyword search function enables tracking of individuals and discovering parallel developments across States. Each entry suggests the other entries to which it is most closely related. In addition, places and names for which separate entries exist, are hyperlinked. The search function also helps to address two other systemic gaps in the records. Mission correspondence, reports and committee minutes tend to focus on administrative matters rather than indigenous people. The invisibility of local diplomats and 'native assistants' is vexing, and for these people there are also often no records in the mission training institutes. This makes them difficult to recover and reconstruct from the historical record. Whenever missionaries referred to indigenous or other assistants by name these are included here.

The missionary women, too, practically disappear in the Lutheran mission records. Only in the Moravian communities were the missionary wives also appointed into service, and records kept for them. Every attempt has been made here to include the bio-data and references to the activities of these women.

Why Germans?

Germans shouldered an inordinately large share of the mission effort in the Australian colonies. In the first sixty years, eight of sixteen mission efforts in the Australian colonies were conducted by Germans. This website explores the dynamics that led to this strong participation.

German’ serves as a short-cut reference to ‘German-speaking’ missionaries. Without wanting to purchase into any patriotic or jingoistic claim about what is ‘German’, and in recognition of the historically variable meaning of any ethnic appellation, ‘German’ here might include people from Polish, French (Alsatian), Italian (Tyrolean), (northern) Swiss, (southern) Dutch or (western) Austrian territories (as long as they were speaking a form of German). As a short-hand, the term ‘German’ glosses over regional political and linguistic variations (e.g. ‘Prussian’, ‘Alemanic’) without wishing to diminish their importance.

Until the mid-1880s, German missionaries relied on non-German empires for an overseas placement, and the German Protestant mission training institutes collaborated with Dutch and British mission societies. Indeed, they sometimes vied with each other for connections with London. Not having an empire of their own, the Germans were more willing to embark on difficult ventures in distant locations than their British brethren, who could find more convivial placements in India, Africa or China. The British missionary societies often had difficulties recruiting missionaries for Australia, and so German missionaries arrived in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland before any German settlers. 

Once German Lutheran communities were established they also initiated and supported Aboriginal missions. The best-known German Lutheran missions were Hermannsburg and Lake Killalpaninna (also known as Coopers Creek or Bethesda). In Victoria Moravians conducted missions at Ebenezer on the Wimmera, Ramahyuck in Gippsland, and Lake Boga, and from 1901 the Catholic Pallottine missions in Western Australia were mostly staffed by Germans.

German Zeitgeist

There were some significant differences between English and German speakers in their approach to indigenous societies. Germans showed great interest in learning and recording local languages, and were themselves outsiders in the British empire. German missionaries often arrived with poor English so that they were even more ready to preach and teach in an indigenous language.

Lutherans, moreover, have always had a strong commitment to vernacular languages. In order to reach the soul of a people one had to speak and understand their language. Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German in 1534 was a thoroughly political act, because rendering the scriptures more easily accessible undermined the power of the Catholic Church to interpret them. Subsequent Bible translations into other oral European languages created formalized languages and helped to foment a nascent national or regional identity based on language groups.

German Lutherans saw the engagement with a local language as a useful and legitimate missionary activity. Linguists observe that the indigenous language revival in South Australia is entirely underpinned by German missionary sources who recorded the languages of the Dieri (Coopers Creek, Killalpaninna) Arrernte (Finke River, Hermannsburg) Ngarrindjerri (Encounter Bay) and Kaurna (Adelaide Plains) with extensive vocabularies, phrases, and insightful grammars.[1] 

Besides the Lutheran tradition there was also a Zeitgeist in the German speaking world of learning that favoured an emphasis on philology and linguistics. While British thought was deeply influenced by John Locke and John Stuart Mill, with an emphasis on political economy and utilitarian explanations of culture, the German-speaking intelligentsia bore the imprint of Kantian idealism and Hegelian metaphysics. Hegel’s dialectics privileged a focus on change. This manifests, for example, in the attempt to decipher changes and shifts in indigenous languages and customs (especially noticeable in Strehlow and Reuther) and to direct the pressures of change into a Christian pattern. The Kantian heritage, with a distinction between the nomothetic knowledge enterprise (‘Wissenschaft’ seeking to discover natural laws) and the idiographic one (‘Wissenschaft’ that explores meaning through human perception and experience/‘Verstehen’) makes far more room for the exploration of meaning and ideas than the Anglophone discourse of ‘science’. The romanticism of Goethe and Herder inspired a number of important collections of folk songs and folk traditions (prominent among them Herder, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, and Des Knaben Wunderhorn). Herder and Wilhelm von Humboldt formulated the idea of the centrality of language for culture - that cultural traditions are defining features of nation, language the ‘soul of the people’.

Therefore the focus on language is not merely a Lutheran impulse, it was also mirrored by the German Catholics, who introduced two language experts into the Kimberley (Worms and Nekes).

German speakers were more likely to come with a different approach to language, different instructions for the conduct of science, and different conceptual maps of evolution. The greater propensity among German speakers in the indigenous encounter to record vernacular traditions, to acquire local languages, and to record folklore (Volksgut) as the defining characteristic of a people (Volk) arises from their training and from the broader contexts of intellectual tradition, and different national preoccupations also played a role in conceptualising indigenous people.

The Anglophone engagement with indigenes was mediated primarily through settler societies marked by much violence. The British empire is practically coterminous with colonialism, and theories of evolution that predicted the demise of indigenous populations were in favour. The German Empire, on the other hand, refers mainly to forging a nation out of disparate neighbouring states with only a short, and late, period of overseas colonialism. Among German intellectuals there was much greater resistance to the Darwinian theory of evolution than among the British. This is mirrored in the attitudes of German missionaries who did not subscribe to the same degree as their British counterparts to the ‘doomed race’ theory, but kept insisting that indigenous people were meant to be saved. Rather than the polygenist and Darwinian explanations of evolution, they favoured a monogenist view of the descent of all humans from a single pair, and felt that Australian Aborigines had somehow devolved from a higher state of civilisation.

During the height of the British empire, Germans were ‘sitting on the sidelines’ and felt ‘free to critique other colonial powers’. [2] This attitude characterised a number of the German missionaries who became quickly unpopular for voicing criticism of colonial governments. A substantial German romantic literature of ‘colonial fantasy’ developed.[3] This facilitated the enthusiasm with which missionaries entered into new colonial territories.

German Protestant mission societies worked closely with British ones until the German empire acquired its own colonies. German Lutherans in Australia reacted immediately to the German annexation of New Guinea in 1884, and shortly after the German acquisition of Cameroon the Rome-based Catholic Pallottine Society established a regional presence in Germany (1892) to intensify a Pallottine presence in Africa.[4]

Missionary training

Within the dominant Enlightenment rationalism of the 18th century emerged a counter-movement of pietism outside of the established churches. Missionising appeared retrograde in the dominant Zeitgeist and became the province of pietist communities of brethren rather than the organised church.[5]

The royal Hanoverian connection facilitated links between British and Germans, and a veritable ‘Anglomania’ spread especially among the German-speaking ‘men of letters’.[6] Cook’s voyages inspired an interest in the Pacific among scientists, and among pietists it fuelled a desire to spread the gospel. The first German missionaries in the colonial field were sent from the Halle Mission founded in 1705 by the pietist August Francke, which inspired Count Zinzendorf at Herrnhut to send Moravian missionaries to the West Indies in 1732. German pietism inspired both John Wesley (1703-1791) and George Whitefield (1714-1770), both of whom personally met Zinzendorf and Spangenberg. But the convictions which pietists held in common were soon overshadowed by differences in interpretation and personalities. Thus John Wesley found the ‘naïve enthusiasm’ of his Moravian brethren distasteful and formed the Methodists as a break-away group. Zinzendorf on the other hand condemned his fellow pietists for splintering too far off from the Lutheran church and exposing themselves to prohibitions. The Moravian movement emanating from Herrnhut under Zinzendorf’s influence in turn inspired William Carey to form the Baptist society, which sent missionaries to India in 1793, and this was soon imitated by the formation of the inter-denominational London Missionary Society in 1795, the (Presbyterian) Scottish Missionary Society in 1796, and the (Anglican) Church Missionary Society in 1799 which resorted to German Lutherans as its first missionaries.

But missionary training was still not formalised until Jänicke established a missionary school in Berlin in 1800. This, and the example of the Moravians, inspired the formation of the pietist Basler Missionsgesellschaft as a missionary training institute in 1815, followed by a training college of the Church Mission Society in London in 1817. This became the ‘great century of missions’ during a period of religious revival and world political shifts. In quick succession several similar protestant mission societies emerged in Germany: the Berliner Missionsgesellschaft in 1824, the Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft at Barmen in 1825, the Norddeutsche Missionsgesellschaft in Hamburg in 1836, the Gossner Mission in Berlin in 1836, the Neuendettelsauer Missionsgesellschaft in 1841, and the Hermannsburger Missionsgesellschaft in 1849. Some, like Neuendettelsau, were primarily oriented towards ‘inner mission’ among German migrant communities, and battling against the image that they were affordable short-cuts to ordination for candidates who could not afford a theological university education.

Both Johannes Gossner in Berlin and Louis Harms in Hermannsburg formed break-away institutions from already established mission societies with the express purpose to accept candidates who were being turned away by the other training colleges, and to prepare them for ‘heathen mission’. They commenced with very basic curricula but eventually succumbed to external pressures and integrated more demanding standards, and the Bible languages, into their programme in order to achieve ordination for their candidates.

The candidates of such training colleges tended to be from rural and artisanal backgrounds, and the entry procedures became increasingly complex in order to screen out those who merely attempted to gain an exit ticket from a lack of opportunities at home. The resumés which the candidates were required to write before leaving their college reflect praise and gratitude for their education, a self-image of sinners returning to the fold showing that they were not strangers to the ways of the world but had made a decision to follow their sense of calling, and often include a description of their moment of conversion.

During their training the candidates were not permitted to get engaged or married, but for a missionary placement being married was highly desirable. As a result, arranged marriages were standard procedure in the short period between graduation and placement. The separation of children from their parents was also a standard expectation for missionary couples. The Moravians at Herrnhut conducted their own boarding school for missionary children, or else children were placed in boarding schools in the colonies.

Neuendettelsau, Herrnhut and Hermannsburg in Germany are small communities that are still deeply imprinted by religious faith and world mission so that the community is practically coterminous with the mission society. The missions in Australia mirrored some of the experiences of their missionaries, who arranged marriages, separated children from parents, and organised small communities of faith.

Mission impossible

The long-term survival of a mission depended on the staying power of individual missionaries. Some spent a lifetime engaged in what they saw as an important personal calling to make a difference. All Australian missions faced essentially the same formidable obstacles: unsuitable land, lack of funding, and ‘nomadic traditions’, or rather seasonal movement. And yet some succeeded where others failed. The missionaries continued to refrain how difficult it was to work with nomadic peoples: the first task was to settle them down, build huts, keep them in one place. This could only be done if there was enough food to go around.

The pressure on land from expanding white settlement ensured that only the least suitable land was reserved for missions. But missions had to generate at least some income because external funding was uncertain, in a climate of settler apathy and government disinterest until the turn of the century. Much missionary effort was spent on the day-to-day establishment and operation of a viable economic unit - building, fencing, draining, piping water, clearing, weeding, planting, and harvesting - rather than engaging with the spiritual and social welfare of the indigenous people who gathered around them.

This is why the pragmatic farm boys from rural Germany with little theological training were actually quite well equipped for the task. The typical figure of the German missionary starting out in Australia was from poor background, barely twenty, newly married, without a shred of experience in leading a community, and for the first time outside of Germany. They were also full of optimism and with a strong sense of calling. The etymological proximity in the German language between call (Ruf), profession (Beruf), and calling (Berufung), is even stronger than in English, so that when a candidate at a missionary college received his ‘call’ into a position he had a strong idea of being destined for it.

Most found it difficult to play a spiritual role next to their mundane management responsibilities, and to hold on to their convictions in the face of resistance. They coped much better with floods, droughts, fires and famine than with criticism, especially if it came from their own ranks.

Criticism came from all quarters. Among white settlers and governments there was a pervading sense that Aborigines were not capable of being assisted, because they could not be civilised. The latest scientific insights, based on Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871) proclaimed that they were the link between ape and man, destined to die out. Darwin, after all, had visited personally in 1835 and concluded that ‘wherever the European has trod death seems to pursue the aboriginal.’[7] Some settlers mocked the missionaries for attempting a hopeless task, and many resented them for locking up land and draining away cheap Aboriginal labour.

Until the 1880s the government was more inclined to criticize whatever went wrong than to dig into its pockets, which were not so well lined. It was willing to set aside unsupervised ‘hunting reserves’ and to declare areas reserved for mission purposes, generally at the frontier of settlement. When the frontier overtook a mission and pressure on land increased, support was often withdrawn.

Missionaries generally sought to isolate indigenous people from the influences of white settlement, which they found degrading and demoralising. The standard forms of remuneration for Aboriginal labour and sexual services were addictive and narcotic substances like sugar, tea, tobacco, alcohol and opium. The missionaries tried to offer alternative centres of attraction, and did not hesitate to dole out tobacco along with food and blankets. Indigenous people initially understood this as payment for meeting the missionaries’ demands such as attending church service, listening to sermons, attending school, performing labour and placing children in dormitories.

Many missionaries walked away from their efforts with a profound sense of failure, and several missions folded without achieving any baptisms at all. Christian conversions took a long time to achieve – it was barely remembered that the Moravians in Greenland took thirty years to produce conversions among the nomadic Inuit.

But the secular expectations that governments pinned on these efforts may still have been achieved: to pacify the frontier sufficiently to facilitate white settlement. The goals of a mission were a complex web of accommodations with the requirements of governments, expectations of local settlers, aspirations of the congregations and mission committees in Australia and Germany supporting them, and understandings of local indigenous people. Sometimes these goals harmonized, sometimes they clashed.

The government policy of handing out blankets and rations to unemployable ‘indigents’ actually undermined the efforts of missions to reward only those who worked. The ‘No work - No food’ principle was considered a civilising mechanism, but it was also a survival strategy for the perennially under-funded missions, because the government allocation for rations, if they were paid, worked out to a penny a meal, only enough to starve on.[8]

The frontier missionaries were practically indistinguishable from white local ‘bosses’ giving out rations and blankets and making demands in return. Compounding the similarities between the most exploitative local bosses and the most well-intentioned missionaries was if the latter paid parents for the children they took into the mission, like Bishop Gsell on the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory. Tiwi Islanders understood his actions in terms of arranged marriages while the missionary strenuously sought to eradicate such traditions.

Until the colonial governments asserted their powers over indigenous people through ‘Protection Acts’, Aboriginal people chose to stay around a mission while it suited them and generally followed their own calendars that required them to move periodically, congregate for important meetings and festivals, set up camp within their region according to seasonal dictates, and then abandon them again until next year. They sometimes could spare the time to stay for a while, listen with curiosity, pick up some useful information and skills, but then it was time again to move on, and what they had just learned seemed less useful the greater the distance they put between themselves and the missions. Aboriginal people generally rejected the stories the missionaries told about God, creation and afterlife as mere fiction, in exactly the way that the Europeans rejected Aboriginal ontologies.

Pressure on land made it increasingly difficult to follow traditional lifestyles. Fences barred entry, cattle crowded out native fauna and destroyed native flora, on some frontiers attitudes hardened to such an extent that indigenous people were shot on sight if they entered onto land under lease. Such conditions made missions more attractive, but they did not facilitate the embracing of Christian beliefs.

Compounding the difficulties of the missions was their remoteness from the places where decisions about them were made. Most missions had complex funding arrangements and therefore reporting procedures, usually with a remote committee ready to censure a missionary who took it upon himself to make decisions without prior consultation. This remoteness also meant that a very small nucleus of staff lived at close quarters and in close interdependence, often leading to intense personal frictions that could ignite over the most minor issues. Criticism from within their own ranks devastated many committed men.

Confessional splintering

Mission work also suffered from rigidly dogmatic positions and friction arising from confessional differences. Catholics and Protestants felt that they had nothing in common and had to compete with each other for territories of influence. The Catholics, with more than a millennium of experience of spiritual colonization, at least had a Propaganda Fide in Rome to frame and coordinate the often competing efforts between Benedictines, Passionists and Jesuits, and later Trappists, Pallottines, and Salesians. But Martin Luther had given the German Protestants the tools and the task to interpret the Bible for themselves, and this they did. Among the German Protestants there were fault lines between the Moravians and the Lutherans, and among the Lutherans the political pressures in the various German states, and a good deal of petty personal rivalry, led to splintering among the German Lutheran communities in Germany and overseas.

The dominant protestant churches in Germany were the Lutheran and Reformed churches, the latter inspired by Calvin and Zwingli. The political pressure to unite was intensified by Prussian nation building, but rather than join the ‘union church’, and bow to such external pressures from a secular state, many Lutherans preferred to form ‘free churches’. Persecution of such free churches (Alt-Lutheraner) led to the first organised migration of Germans to South Australia in 1836. The first German communities in Australia were therefore strongly religious and willing to leave their homeland in order to practise their faith. This also meant that they were prepared to be stubbornly dogmatic. Within a few years of their arrival two separate Lutheran synods were formed in South Australia, and this early split was replicated in Queensland and Victoria even though later migrations, particularly to Queensland, were driven by economic rather than religious pressures.

The German-speaking missionary training colleges also reflected various confessional and strategic approaches. The Moravian Community of Brethren at Herrnhut started in 1732 to send out pietist colonists to settle as Christian communities and so perform heathen mission. This ‘Moravian model’ was imitated by Johannes Gossner in Berlin in 1836 and Ludwig Harms at Hermannsburg in 1849, but both of these offered some formal training to such colonists, whereas at Herrnhut itself a missionary training college was not set up until 1869. Other societies had set up missionary training colleges where the aim was to train pastors for German migrant communities, such as at Neuendettelsau in 1841. These distinctions gradually disappeared as all of them started to train graduates who could be ordained as pastors both for heathen mission and the ‘inner mission’ among migrant communities, under pressure of demand from German migrant communities and the British missionary societies who demanded some minimal standards of education for placements in the colonies. What remained, however, were confessional differences in the training background of such migrant pastors.

In Queensland, for example, Lutheran factionalism led to the formation of two Lutheran synods, one liaising with Hermannsburg (noted for its ‘confessional Lutheranism’) and one liaising with Neuendettelsau. The competition between them led to the establishment within a year of each other of separate missions at Cape Bedford (later Hope Vale), Mari Yamba, and Bloomfield. Cape Bedford was associated with Neuendettelsau, Mari Yamba was associated with Hermannsburg, and Bloomfield was initiated by negotiations with Victorian Moravians (though these negotiations failed and the Neuendettelsau missionaries jumped into the breach). Australian colonial governments had always been more interested in Moravians than Lutherans to conduct missions, because they were not exclusively associated with Germany, having strong communities in Ireland and England, and a solid working relationship with Scottish Presbyterians.

The German withdrawal

As early as the 1840s resentment of the strong German participation in Australian missions surfaced. In 1843 the New South Wales government withdrew its funding first from Wellington Valley and then from Zion Hill. In both cases, the move involved the withdrawal of funding from Germans and the channeling of financial support towards British appointees.

British settlers, recent though they were, were resentful of the German ‘foreigners’, even if these had spent most of their lives in the colony and had given up their German citizenship to become naturalized British subjects. A clear indication that the missions were spreading ‘German sentiment’ was the singing of German hymns. The missionaries were translating the hymns they were familiar with into local languages. Colonial governments did not support these efforts and usually made it a condition of funding for schools that these were conducted in English. The language issue has remained a vexed debate in indigenous schooling.

World War I spelled the end of the German empire and of direct German involvement in Australian Lutheran missions. Anti-German sentiment was seething during the war and German missionaries were either interned or at least treated with suspicion and hostility. The German Lutheran mission societies that had retained a direct involvement in the running of missions in Australia (Neuendettelsau and Hermannsburg) devolved responsibilities to local church committees, while the Catholics were able to place Salesians nominally in charge for a period. Still, the Pallottines managed to re-establish and expand their presence in Western Australia and therefore explode the timeframe that might otherwise define the period of strong German involvement in Australian missions.

Contribution to knowledge

This website contributes German perspectives to mission historiography in Australia. Its underlying claim is that German speakers made a significant contribution to the Australian mission effort and to ethnographic and scientific knowledge in Australia. This contribution has been eclipsed by the difficulty of accessing the German material, and also by the different intellectual pursuits of the Anglo-Saxon and German traditions.

Most effort has been spent on recovering those missionary efforts that have not already been exhaustively documented in Australia. Therefore the already much-researched South Australian Germans have been comparatively neglected, whereas much attention has been directed towards the Lutherans in Queensland and the Catholics in the West Australian Kimberleys.

The conditions of access imposed by various mission archives do not allow a fully comprehensive treatment of German missionaries up to recent times, so there will be some lacunae, particularly regarding people still alive. Some of the repositories I visited are not public archives: they have no public funding, no reading room, no finding aids, and no onus to permit access, particularly to non-denominational researchers. In some of them I have pioneered Australian academic access. In Limburg the Pallottine missionary files were acquisitioned at the rate at which they were presented to me, and sometimes the good Br. Georg Adams allowed me to overtake him, so a few files have no archival requisition number, and most start with P1: Personal files. These included anything regarding the person concerned, and might contain medals, passports, vocabularies, legal correspondence, or correspondence with descendants.

Occasionally it has been difficult to determine what to include for historical interest, including the interest of Indigenous descendants of mission residents, and what to omit. ‘First do no harm’ is the basic principle of natural therapy, but some pain might still be involved, and truthful history, too, is in many ways therapeutic. No effort has been made to put a positive gloss on missions, or the German involvement. Still, by getting to know the missionaries through their personal letters and their family backgrounds one cannot help but develop some empathy with their difficult situations, which they were often unable to decipher. I have given equal weight to lay missionaries where possible, since they, too, imprinted themselves on the day-to-day interactions on missions, and their letters are often frank about the tensions on the missions. Some appear opportunistic, but in most cases their fervent adherence to a religious idea shines through.

This website brings together more detail than anyone is likely to want to read (an estimated 500,000 words). The search function – the best index one can have – permits tracking for unexpected patterns such as the use of shorthand, or the use of homoeopathic remedies, as well as for the better known ones: the language work, the bible translations, and the ethnographic contributions made by missionaries.


[1] Amery, Rob, ‘Beyond their expectations: Teichelmann und Schürmann’s efforts to preserve the Kaurna Language continue to bear fruit’ in Walter Veit (ed) The Struggle for Souls and Science – constructing the Fifth Continent: German missionaries and scientists in Australia, Strehlow Research Centre Occasional Paper , 2004, pp 9-28. Gale, Mary-Anne, Dhangum Djorra’wuy Dhäwu – A history of writing in Aboriginal languages. Aboriginal Research Institute, University of South Australia, 1997.

[2] Zantop, Susanne, Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family and Nation in Precolonial Germany, 1770-1870,  Durham, Duke University Press, 1997.

[3] Zantop, Susanne, Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family and Nation in Precolonial Germany, 1770-1870,  Durham, Duke University Press, 1997.

[4] Byrne, Francis, A Hard Road: Brother Frank Nissl 1888-1980,  Nedlands, Tara House, 1989.  

[5] Schlatterer, Wilhelm, Geschichte der Basler Mission 1815-1915 Basler Missionsbuchhandlung 1916, p. 8.

[6] Hoare, Michael, The Tactless Philosopher: Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-98),   Melbourne, Hawthorne Press, 1976, p. 68.

[7] Moorehead, Alan, Darwin and the Beagle, Penguin, Melbourne, 1969, p. 230.

[8] This rate reflects the figures at Bloomfield Mission in the 1890s and at Weipa in 1913.