John Burton Cleland
This entry contains terms or descriptions of research activities and academic practices that are no longer considered appropriate.
In the 19th and 20th Centuries, it was a practice for researchers to relocate human remains, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains, and significant cultural objects to museums and universities in Australia and overseas. Most likely this occurred without the full knowledge or consent of the Indigenous communities. The University acknowledges the harm caused by these past practices and recognises its obligation to respectfully engage with Indigenous communities and support the repatriation of ancestral remains and cultural artefacts where appropriate.
For more information, please visit the University of Adelaide's Repatriation of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains page.
Born in Adelaide in 1878, John Burton Cleland attended Prince Alfred College. He matriculated in 1895 and began studies in Medicine at the University of Adelaide the same year.  His studies were disrupted by a dispute between the South Australian Government and the University-linked staff of the Adelaide Hospital, forcing Cleland to transfer to and complete his studies at the University of Sydney where he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1900 and Doctor of Medicine in 1902. 
Cleland had an extensive career as a researching pathologist at institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom, before being appointed the first George Richard Marks Professor of Pathology at the University of Adelaide in 1920. Cleland retained the Marks Professorship until his retirement in 1948. The University conferred on him the title of Professor Emeritus in 1949.  As well as his duties at the University, Cleland performed and reported on thousands of autopsies as an Honorary Pathologist, and later Consultant Pathologist, at the Adelaide Hospital and the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. 
Cleland was a member of the University of Adelaide-based Board of Anthropological Research and took part in a number of the Board’s expeditions in the 1930s, with a particular interest in the physical anthropology of Aboriginal people and their environment. As Deputy Chairman of the South Australian Government Aborigines Protection Board he also participated in visits to missions and other locations during the 1930s and 1940s. 
Additionally, Cleland took an interest in botany, zoology, and mycology, and was an active field naturalist and ornithologist. He received a C.B.E. in 1949 and was knighted in 1964. Other accolades include medals and honorary fellowships from state and national scientific organisations spanning his areas of interest. He died in 1971 at the age of 93.
1. Calendar of the University of Adelaide. (1896). Held at Adelaide: University of Adelaide. University Archives, Series 108, University of Adelaide Calendars.
2. Sir John Burton Cleland staff record (D2013/153427). Held at: University of Adelaide. University Archives Series 587, University Retired Staff Records.
4. Grant, Professor Sir K; Cleland, Professor J B; Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee - Title of Professor Emeritus and general principle of conferring the title of Emeritus. [Docket] Held at: Adelaide: University of Adelaide. University Archives, Series 200, Item 1949/295.
5. Southcott, R. V. 1981. ‘Cleland, Sir John Burton (1878–1971)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8. Online 2006. Accessed December 2021 <https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cleland-sir-john-burton-5679>
6. Sir John Burton Cleland (1878-1971) – Papers, principally relating to anthropology and medicine, (Held at: Adelaide: University of Adelaide. Rare Books and Manuscripts, MSS 572 C61, Items 4 –7).