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AN INTERESTING MAN WITH LOCAL CONNECTIONS PROFESSOR A.P. ELKIN - OBITUARY

- Emeritus Professor Adolphus Peter Elkin, the Anglican Minister who became one of the world's leading anthropologists and a devoted worker for the aborigines, died on Monday at the age of 88 years. Born and educated in Singleton, he received his High School education at Maitland, and then worked in a bank, stationed at Gilgandra, before attending St. Paul's Collage at Sydney University. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree at Sydney University in 1915, and in that year, was ordained as a minister in the Church of England. His first appointment after his ordination was as Rector of Gundy, then he held the position of Rector at Wallsend, Wollombi and Morpeth, from where he resigned and decided to study anthropology. He was vice-warden of St. John's College, Armidale, in 1919-21. After graduation, and while performing his clerical work, he completed a thesis, Myth and Ritual in Australia. For this, London Unviersity awarded him, in 1927, the degree of Doctor of philosophy. He did field work for five years among the Aborigines in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and in the northern areas of South Australia. He also worked for twelve months in the Northern Territory studying Aborigines. In 1932 he became a member of the Austrlian National Research Council, and, later, a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute. For three years he attended Oxford University, in England, to obtain his PHD. Professor Elkin's publications included - The Australia Aborigines, The individual Society and Change, Aboriginal Men of high Degree, Citizenship for the Aborigines, and the Diocese of Newcastle. His appointment as lecturer in charge of the anthropology department at Sydney University came to a difficult time. The university did not have a Chair in the subject and had doubts about its necessity. In 933, when he obtained the Chair, he began important work on editor of Oceania, a journal primarily concerned with the study of the native peoples of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. His field work in anthropology took him to many remote places in these areas, often for long periods and sometimes in severe conditions. Field work took him also to North America, Asia and Europe. In 1933 Professor Elkin became President of the Association for the Protection of Native Races, which worked particularly for the betterment of Aborigines' conditions. Nine years later he became an executive committee member of the National Research Council. He received a number of academic honours, including in 1914 the Royal Society's medal for outstanding scientific endeavour. Just before his retirement from the Chair of Anthropology in 1956, the Royal Society of NSW presented him with the James Cook Medal for outstanding wotk in science and human welfare. At that time he held more than 20 official and semi-official positions. His post-retirement activities included more books on Aborigines and more field trips to Arnhem Land and the central highlands of Papua New Guinea. He continued to go to the Universiry two days each week. His death occurred after he had attended a meeting at the University on Monday afternoon. Professor Elkin is survived by his wife, Sarah, and two sons, Kingsley (a professor at Armidale) and Morris (Keith, S.A.). Mr. Vic Bower of Dawson's Hill is a cousin of Professor Elkin. After a service at St. Alban's Church of England, Lindfield, at 2.30pm yesterday, the funeral left for the Northern Suburbs Crematorium. died 9th July, 1979