Series AA 346/4 comprises 23 numbered metal file drawers containing cards on which data has been recorded. The cards measure 20.5 cm x 12.7 cm (5 x 8 inches).
The data recorded on these cards is the results of observations, measurements, enquiries and tests by members of the Board for Anthropological Research (BAR) expedition teams. The Australian Aboriginal people encountered or gathered on a particular expedition were the subjects of the BAR's research. For discussion of the BAR's operations, research interests and methodology, see: PG Jones, 1987, 'South Australian anthropological history: the Board for Anthropological research and its early expeditions', Records of the South Australian Museum, 20: 71-92.
Within Series AA 346/4, cards are ordered by BAR expedition, with the exception of some groups of cards relating to South Australia which are located at the beginning of the series. From the late 1920s, cards are further grouped into 'Sociological Data' and 'Anthropological Data'. Typically, the Sociological Data cards record information about an individual including names, birthplace, age, sex, tribe/language group, and similar data about the individual's close kin, as well as photographs of the individual. Anthropological data cards record basic individual details and a range of physical measurements and observations ('anthropometric data'). Note that the format of the data cards varies over time, as does the range of measurements, observations, and enquiries undertaken. Note that not all data recorded on cards was recorded at the time of an expedition - some sets appear to have been compiled later from published data. Many cards have later annotations (especially relating to tribal/language group names). The data on the cards has been recorded by various hands. Note also that cards in any given series have been completed to varying levels of detail.
The method adopted by BAR expeditions to undertake research and record the results involved assigning a unique number to each individual (here called 'individual subject number'). This number was given the expedition symbol as a prefix, and remained consistent throughout the research (for example: D24). Cards within each series are ordered by these numbers. The numerical sequence usually begins with the men of a group, followed by the women, and finally children. In general, there is more data recorded on the men.
These cards are a primary reference for understanding the BAR's work.They are also a primary reference for identifying individuals who were subjects of the BAR's research, and cross-references can be made using (individual subject) numbers to other information collected by BAR members, including genealogies (AA 346/5), papers, entries in journals and so on.
Note that the data cards contain many variant spellings of tribal/language group names, some of which appear to have been recorded in the field, and some of which have been added or amended at a later date, often by NB Tindale (see AA 338). In the descriptions here the various terms and spellings have been reproduced, with what appear to be amendments noted in square brackets. It has not been possible in all cases to supply corresponding tribal/language group names according to standardised spellings adopted by NB Tindale (see AA 338) and AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies). Note that the language group of the numbered individual is listed in the inventory descriptions which follow; some cards also include this information for kin of the individual.
Note that some draft data cards are in Series AA 346/3.
Note also that there are data cards in the Birdsell collection, AA 689/9. As these cards contain differing data from those in AA 346/4, comparison of the relevant sets is recommended.