SHE had honeymooned at Kyogle decades earlier and in 1987 the beautifully spoken elderly widow returned to the northern NSW town to grow herbs.There she kept pretty much to herself, occasionally telling locals of a life long ago: of sitting on Winston Churchill’s knee as a toddler, of her friendship with Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist, how the NSW governor’s wife, Lady Game, stormed out of a play she produced at Pitt Street’s Aeolian Hall and the day the Herald told of her honeymoon plans – a walk from Sydney to Brisbane.Grahame Gooding, a grazier who worked at the local stock and station agent, sold her a house in the village of Ettrick but within two years she died, aged 89.Months after her death, the bank contacted Gooding to sell the property. Gooding had become her mainstay during their short friendship and, as he prepared the property for sale, something made him resist advice from neighbours to throw everything out.He kept notes, research, photographs and pillow cases stuffed with 20 years of letters, even taking them with him when he and his wife sold up and retired to the Byron Bay hinterland.Last November, an anthropologist advertised in the Northern Star newspaper, asking if anybody recalled Caroline Kelly-Tennant. Gooding saw it and knew why he had not dumped the remnants of his friend’s life. Her work has provided anthropologists with a cornucopia of research that provides a rare contemporary and disciplined view of people confronting new lives.Kelly-Tennant was one of the first generation of Australian-born anthropologists to study Aborigines whose parents had confronted European settlement. Her seminal work during the 1930s was among Aborigines at Burning Bridge Mission outside Kempsey, nearby Wreck Bay and at Cherbourg in southern Queensland.Kelly-Tennant detailed daily Aboriginal life, recording kinship practices, traditional ceremonies, language, territorial knowledge and genealogies but quit her research after frequent clashes with authorities.In 1934 she wrote to Margaret Mead about Cherbourg ”… [there are] about 20 whites – mostly what you would call white trash … with minds like rubbish carts” .She went on to study post-World War II immigration, reporting on anti-Semitism suffered by Jewish refugees and problems confronting British orphans and non-British migrants. In the 1950s, south-west Sydney’s rapid urbanisation took her attention and she worked with Cumberland County Council.Kim de Rijke, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, said the discovery was “the most significant breakthrough” in the field for more than 50 years and the collection undoubtedly would be used in native title claims in northern NSW and southern Queensland.Born in England in 1899, Kelly-Tennant arrived in Australia during the Roaring ’20s and as Carrie Tennant quickly became a leading light among Sydney’s bohemian set.Mead inspired her to study at the University of Sydney, which had established Australia’s first anthropology department. It was started by the famed A.R. Radcliffe-Brown and further developed by A.P. Elkin, who was to become Kelly-Tennant’s mentor. The collection contains copious correspondence between Kelly-Tennant and Elkin shedding light on the early phase of Australian anthropology and harrowing letters from Aborigines.A man unable to leave Cherbourg despite having fought in World War I wrote to her in 1935: ”There were three of us went to the great war out of my family one was killed … I always thought that fighting for our King and country would make me naturalise british [sic] subject and a man with freedom in the country but … [the Chief Protector] places me under the act and put me to a settlement like a dog.”