Dr William Delano Walker

Archive Collections / Dr William Delano Walker
Born : 30 October, 1897
Died : 16 August, 1938

Dr William Delano Walker, B Sc, MB, BS (Adl), FRS (SA), FRAI, FRES, FRPS, FZS, FRGS was the son of Dr William John Walker and Mary (nee Delano). Walker trained as a Medical Doctor and used Adelaide as a base for his numerous outback and overseas holiday excursions, and later medical locum travels to country and outback regions of South Australia, rural New South Wales and the Northern Territory. He (and his wife Mary [Mollie] Vera nee Alexander) documented much of their life together in a series of diaries (the earliest of which in the collection dates from 1915) through June 1938. He was a great underliner (in blue and red color pencil) and annotator of both his correspondence and books/journals and newspaper cuttings. His diaries incorporated a summary of outward correspondence and he also kept an index of press cuttings. Mollie Walker's diary (1927-1936) describes their motor trip through Central Australia and her activities based in London. The later period (1929-1936) incorporates a vast number of descriptions of places, cultural activities, and observations of life and society in an upper middle class environment (though they travelled 3rd class by train). Both William and Mollie were musicians (he singer and she pianist). They attended many performances often providing a descriptive critique in their diaries.

In processing this collection some significant effort has been made to draw together subject matter referred to in both the diaries of Dr and Mrs Walker and that documented in annotations to photographs. Only a small proportion of photographs are annotated with details of object, person or place. Further descritpion from the diaries is provided to add context and to help identify objects, persons and places which are documented in unannotated photographs.

An index entry in the "Finding Aid" should provide access to all relevant references, however, while name entries for patients at various hospitals indicate the hospital name (ie Green, Ira (Patient St Andrews Hospital)) in the index, an entry is only made for the hospital's name when it specifically appears in the details column. Hence there are few index entries per say, but many incidental citations will be found in association with patient name entries . While the 'Details' column for each "Inventory Item" is entered in 'natural language', constraints in the indexing system may distort the text with additional punctuation or searchable index strings. All personal names and locations contained in annotations have been indexed, however, names may be misspelt and index system anomalies may provide some unexpected results. A search on the formats "Indexes" and "Lists" should produce a list of both index and similar reference retrieval aids created by Dr Walker.

He joined the Australian Imperial Force on 28 June 1918 returning to Adelaide to resumed his medical studies in 1920 and graduate in 1923.

Walker reported on the condition of Aborigines following a Central Australian visit in 1927-1928.

Educational achievements and organisations with which Walker was associated included (with the dates of joining)

  • degree in B Sc Adelaide March 1923

  • degree in MB BS Adelaide December 1925

  • British Medical Association (BMA) register to practice South Australia 17 December 1925, membership 1926 and associateship 25 November 1929

  • registered to practice in England 25 November 1929

  • Royal Society South Australia Branch (RS SA) November 1923 proposed by Prof. F Wood Jones, Prof. JB Cleland

  • Royal Photographic Society (RPS) proposed by Dr GH Rodman, HH Blacklock 11 November 1929, member 9 December 1929, associate 8 December 1930, lecture 19 May 1931, medal September 1931 and fellow November 1931

  • Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) fellow 19 May 1931 proposed Prof. G Elliot Smith, Dr J Perry

  • University College Anthropological Society (UCAS) member 14 February 1930, lecture 21 February 1930

  • Royal Geographical Society (RGS) proposed Arthur Perema, GH Ponting, fellow 23 February 1931

  • Royal Empire Society (RES) proposed Daniel Grove, Frank R Cowley, fellow 12 January 1931

  • Empire Crusade, foundation member 17 December 1929

  • Zoological Society of London (ZS) proposed Prof. JP Hill fellow 20 May 1931

His wife maintained a personal diary during their Australian travels and sojourn in the UK. Her descriptions of places and atmospheres were sometimes poetic, "we sat in a sheltered spot yet sunny for our belated lunch for which we were quite ready, but our peace was disturbed by a sea gull in search of food and Bill in search of photographs. We spend a long time there while Bill tempted that seagull with tit bits and the bird did its best against the odds of adverse winds to secure the prize. I sat in the sun and read Lorna Doone and possessed my soul in patience! The view was beautiful and the heather coming with bloom tinged the hillside while many little flowers of beauty filled all the crevices - this valley is faithfully described in Lorna Doone." She also commented on his changing career aspirations over the period 1929-1931.

While not a trained photographer, Walker successfully utalized his collection of photographs to generate an income by means of the limited publication of images and the presentation of a series of illustrated lectures, including:

  • The Flying Doctor in Australia: The Worlds first civil aerial medical service;

  • Glimpses of Australia and its wild life from coast to coast;

  • The Australian Aborigine: Stone age man and his customs today

He died in an RAF aircraft accident near Catterick,York England on 16 August 1938. Mrs Walker died in the Adelaide Home for Incurables on 22 June 1975 following an extended illness.

Mollie Alexander was educated at the Catholic Convents at Broken Hill and Mt Barker, and Matriculated from Adelaide High School. She attended the Teacher's Training College in Adelaide and taught at Norwood for a year before being appointed to Gilles Street Practising School to open a Montessori class until 1924. She was Infant Mistress at Murry Bridge School from 1924 to 1925. Mollie also took numerous photographs on her travels in the UK and her work during the period 1929-1938 may not be distinguishable from his. Mrs Walker chaired the University of Adelaide Board of Adult Education Committee from 1958 to 1966.

On her return to Australia Mrs Walker served on the executive of the South Australian Country Women's Association for many years and was awarded an OBE. She donated most of their personal records to the South Australian Museum archive (the transfer was arranged via the International Cultural Corporation of Australia, Sydney SAM ref AD2/1 of 24 March 1982).

Inventory Listings by Series
Prepared ByGeorge Smith