Catherine Berndt

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Catherine Berndt, c.1952

Catherine Helen Berndt, née Webb (8 May 1918 – 12 May 1994), born in Auckland, was an Australian anthropologist known for her research in Australia and Papua New Guinea. She was awarded in 1950 the Percy Smith Medal from the Univ. of Otago, New Zealand and in 1980 she also received a children's book award and medal for her book, Land of the Rainbow Snake, a collection of stories from Western Arnhem Land.[1]

Berndt published valuable monographs on Aboriginal Australia, including Women's Changing ceremonies in Northern Australia (1950).[2] She authored over 36 major publications about women's social and religious life in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea plus a dozen co-authored publications with others.

For this work, Berndt was elected to the Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute in London. She was also the 7th woman elected as a Fellow in the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.[3]

With her husband Ronald Berndt, C. Berndt collected indigenous art works of Australia and Asia. The collection is conserved in the Berndt Museum of Anthropology, founded by the couple in 1976 (University of Western Australia). C. Berdnt was first author of the monograph The Aboriginal Australians: The First Pioneers and second author of Arnhem Land: Its history and its people.[4][5]

She died in 1994.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Women Anthropologists". The University of Illinois press. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  2. ^ "The Berndt Museum". The University of Western Australia Berndt Museum of Anthropology. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Women Anthropologists". The University of Illinois press. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  4. ^ "The Aboriginal Australians: The first pioneers". Pitman. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  5. ^ Sutton, Peter John (2001), Ronald and Catherine Berndt: An appreciation, Carfax, retrieved 7 July 2014
  6. ^ White, Isobel (1 September 1994), "Catherine Helen Berndt. (Obituary)", Oceania, University of Sydney, 65 (1): 1, ISSN 0029-8077
  7. ^ Stanton, John (1994), "Catherine Helen Berndt, 1918/1994. [Obituary]", Australian Aboriginal Studies (Canberra) (1): 93–96, ISSN 0729-4352

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