A popular colloquialism expressing connotations of hidden family secrets, "skeletons in the closet", had a particular resonance for me as I came to the end of researching my postdoctoral history thesis on relationships between Aboriginal and white women under the NSW Aborigines Protection Board "apprenticeship" policy. Based on a reconstructed life-narrative of my greatgrandmother, a white woman, it involved not only my own family history, but also the personal histories of four Aboriginal women connected with her. The following discussion of some of the issues that arose for me in the research, writing and submission process is derived from a talk I gave at the 1998 Australian Historical Association conference under the same title. After submitting my abstract for this conference, I came across a article published last year by Hetti Perkins, on Aboriginal artist Judy Watson, entitled "Our skeletons in your closets". Unlike Perkins, however, who was clearly talking about the symbolic reclamation of Aboriginal traces, I was deliberately ambiguouS in not identifying Whose skeletons are cloistered in our closets; what emerged in my work were the enmeshed skeletal remains of histories of both white and Aboriginal people, and also the shameful secrets of the government bureaucracy that engineered and oversaw the placement of Aboriginal girls into white suburban homes.
Olive Pink Society Bulletin Vol. 10, Issue 2, p. 15-22