Discovery Event with Rob Amery, Head of Linguistics

Piltawodli School and Letter by Pitpauwe, boy aged 12 years (1843)

Piltawodli School and Letter by Pitpauwe, boy aged 12 years (1843)

The Kaurna Children’s Letters 1840-1843 to the Dresden Mission Society: their significance and background

In October 1838 two Lutheran missionaries, Clamor Schürmann and Christian Teichelmann of the Dresden Mission Society, arrived in Adelaide. They immediately set about learning the local Kaurna language. They opened a school at Piltawodli on the banks of the River Torrens where they taught Kaurna children to read and write in their own language.

In 1841-43, a piece of classwork and two letters written by the children in the Kaurna language, using beautiful English copperplate writing, were sent to the Dresden Mission Society where they were retained in the archival collections now held by the Leipziger Missionswerk (Leipzig Mission). They were found in 1998 in storage in the Archives cellar.

On 8 September 2014, these letters were presented on permanent loan by the Leipzig Mission to the Barr Smith Library where they are held on behalf of the Kaurna community.

Associate Professor Rob Amery will present on the enormous significance of the letters, leading into the story of the Kaurna language movement and the wider connections with Germany through the work of Teichelmann and Schürmann.  

WHEN: Thursday 25 July 1.00pm

WHERE: Ira Raymond Exhibition Room, Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide

ENTRY: $10 at the door. Students free

RSVP: by 24 July to  or phone 8313 6356