« Ernst Alfred Worms (1891-1963). Chronology »

par Regina Ganter

Griffith University


2019

How to cite this article

Ganter, Regina, 2019. « Ernst Alfred Worms (1891-1963). Chronology » in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l’anthropologie, Paris, IIAC-LAHIC, UMR 8177.

27 August 1891: born in Bochum, Germany as the son of a Protestant railway worker and a Catholic mother.

1912: enters the Pallottine novitiate in Limburg (Germany) against the wishes of his father

1914: drafted into military service and serves at the Russian front

1915: sustains serious injuries at Brest-Litowsk (Poland)

1918: released from military service and returns to the Pallottine mother house in Limburg where Prof. Hermann Nekes teaches philosophy, comparative religion and mission science

1920: receives ordination as Pallottine Priest (SAC) and is engaged in teaching and youth ministry for ten years in the ‘new German’ territories

September 1930: applies to join the Pallottine mission in the Kimberley region, Australia, attends a two-months course at the Catholic institute for mission medicine in Würzburg (established in 1922)

11 November 1930: departs for the Kimberley together with three Pallottine Brothers, via Rome, Genua and Singapore

1930-1937: based in Broome (Kimberley, Australia) and begins linguistic work on the Yawuru (Jaueru, Yaoro) language and scientific observations.

1931: Notices strong foreign influences in the local languages and requests a Malay grammar in correspondence with Nekes

1933: conducts linguistic fieldwork in western New South Wales and Queensland

1934: conducts linguistic fieldwork at the new Pallottine mission station at Rockhole, near Halls Creek (Kimberley)

1935: is considered as candidate for Bishop of Kimberley

1935: Nekes joins Worms in the Kimberley for joint linguistic work. Worms becomes increasingly interested in religious and ethnographic aspects of the work

1937: after a horse-riding accident his back is permanently injured

November 1937: becomes the first Rector of the new Pallottine college in Kew (Victoria) to train Australian recruits for the Pallottine order and attracts media attention to speak on behalf of Indigenous people to raise funds for the Pallottine mission

1938: three publications on foreign influences on Kimberley languages and ethnographic observations in the Vatican’s ethnographic journal Annali Lateranensi and in Oceania (established 1931 by Anglican rector Adolphus Elkin, an influential Australian anthropologist)

late 1938: encounters desert tribes and contact cults (Gorangara).

1938/39: facilitates the visit of a German scientific expedition from the Frobenius Institute of Frankfurt University, with a particular interest in rock art, and begins collaborating with Helmut Petri.

1940-1945: under house arrest in Melbourne like most German Pallottine Brothers and Fathers. Makes contact with ethnographic professionals in Victoria (Australia).

January 1946:completes a 1065-page dictionary of Australian languages with Nekes.

1946: war-time travel restrictions are lifted, and Worms visits north Queensland to investigate ‘pygmy tribes’ reported in 1938 by Australian linguist and ethnographers, Arthur Capell, Norman Tindale and Joseph Birdsell

1947: on a speaking tour in Germany

1948-1957: based in Broome, continues work on desert tribes and investigates rock art

1953: publication in microform of Australian Languages through the Micro-Bibliotheca series of the Anthropos Institute (Switzerland). A special volume of Anthropos is dedicated to the publication [1].

1953: receives funding from Wenner-Gren foundation (New York)

September 1953: visits rock art sites at Abydos/Woodstock in the Pilbara (north-west Australia), removes one of the images to Perth, becomes the first scientist to describe some of the sites, one of them is later called Father Worms Hills.

December 1953: German radio station SWR (Südwestrundfunk) records a broadcast lecture on Aboriginal culture.

1954: further expeditions to the Red Centre and northern Kimberley, inspecting the characteristic Wandjina and Giro Giro (Bradshaw figures) rock art of the region

1956: becomes first Rector of a new Pallottine residence at Manly (Sydney)

1957: visits Germany including Würzburg and Münster, donates artefacts to the Centre for the Study of Religions at Münster University, organizes and describes the ethnographic display at the Pallottine motherhouse in Limburg

1959: hospitalised in Sydney

April 1960: lecture tour in the USA, speaks at Central States Anthropological Society conference in Bloomington (Indiana) alongside noted anthropologists

1960: receives funding from Wenner-Gren Foundation (New York) for nine months of fieldwork in northern Australia, visits Ayers Rock, Simpson Desert, Arnhem Land, Kimberley, Pilbara. Prepares his major work on Aboriginal religions.

October 1960:records songs at LaGrange mission with Petri

May 1961: presents at a symposium of leading Australian ethnographers which prepares for the establishment in 1964 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Canberra (now AIATSIS)

1962: completes the manuscript of his major work on Aboriginal religions, distinguishing between Australian and Tasmanian Aborigines

1962: obtains funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to teach a semester at the theological faculty of Münster University, and is invited to Cologne and Nijmegen, but becomes too ill to travel

13 August 1963: dies in Sydney, age 72

1968: posthumous and heavily edited publication of Aboriginal Religions appears in German as Nevermann, Worms and Petri 1968 [2]

1970: Worms’ thoughts on mission practice are published [3]

1972: a French translation of Aboriginal Religions appears as Worms 1972 [4]

1986: the first English translation of Aboriginal Religions appears as Worms 1986 [5]

1998: a revised translation of Aboriginal Religions appears in English as Worms and Petri [6]

2006: first book publication of Nekes and Worms, Australian Languages by Mouton de Gruyter (Germany), edited by Bill McGregor, with CD-ROM [7]




Notes

[1Worms, E. A. 1953b. H. Nekes’ and E. A. Worms’ ‘Australian Languages’. Anthropos 48: 956–70. The microform publication has not been found by this author.

[2Nevermann, E., Worms E. A. Petri, H. (eds) Die Religionen der Südsee und Australiens. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer series on Religions of Mankind

[3Worms, E. A. 1970. Observations on the mission field of the Pallottine fathers in north-west Australia. In Diprotodon to Detribalization: Studies of change among Australian Aborigines, (eds) A. R. Pilling and R. A. Waterman, pp. 367–79. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

[4Worms, E. A. 1972. Les religions primitives d’Australie. In Les religions du Pacifique et d’Australie, (ed.) C. M. Schröder, pp. 153–391. Paris: Payot.

[5Worms, E. A. 1986. Australian Aboriginal Religions. Sydney: Nelen Yubu Missiological Unit.

[6Worms, E. A. and Petri, H. 1998. Australian Aboriginal Religions. Sydney: Nelen Yubu Missiological Unit

[7Nekes, H. and Worms, E. 2006. Australian Languages. Edited by W. McGregor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.