William Ferguson

William Ferguson (1882-1950) was a bush-worker, unionist and activist for Aboriginal rights in New South Wales. An organiser of the Aborigines Progressive Association, he drafted far-sighted resolutions and arranged publicity and welfare work. He served (1944-49) on the Aborigines Welfare Board then became state Vice-president of the Australian Aboriginesí League. His strong Christian faith supported his pride in his people. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography.


27 June 1937

Aborigines Progressive Association

Inspired by William Cooper’s Australian Aborigines' Advancement League formed in Victoria in 1932, William Ferguson organises the inaugural meeting of the NSW branch of the Aborigines Progressive Association in Sydney in 1937. The Association operates until 1944. The three aims of the Association are full citizenship rights for Indigenous people, Aboriginal representation in parliament, and the abolition of the NSW Aborigines Protection Board. From March 1938, the The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines is published as the official journal of the Aborigines Progressive Association.


The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines, July 1938.
26 January 1938

Australia's 150th anniversary and Indigenous Day of Mourning and Protest

On 26 January, as Australia celebrates the 150th anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove, Indigenous Australians attend a Day of Mourning and Protest in Sydney. The mourners wait for the sesquicentenary procession to pass, then march in silent protest from the Sydney Town Hall to an Australian Aborigines Conference at the Australian Hall. The Australian Aborigines’ League and Aborigines Progressive Association of New South Wales use the meeting to speak out about the denial of civil rights for Indigenous Australians. The protest is the culmination of years of campaigning by Aboriginal leaders including William Ferguson, William Cooper and John Patten. Patten and Ferguson circulate a pamphlet, Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights.


Aborigines claim citizen rights!-a statement of the case for the Aborigines Progressive Association by J.T. Patten and W. Ferguson.