Archive for May 2011

Guest post: So, what did your ancestor's passenger ship look like, then?

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Guest contributor: Janelle

Once we have discovered which ship our ancestor came to New Zealand on, for most of us, the next question is "Where can I can get a picture of that ship?" And, just like passenger lists which are scattered in many places, so too are images of ships. Here are some of the search strategies and sources for ships pictures that I know about. I suspect that there are others out there that have escaped my notice, so please don't take this as an exhaustive guide!
A logical place to start the search for a picture is any museum or library you can find at or near the port where your ancestor arrived. If the ship was using that port, then a local photographer may have taken a photo and that image may now be housed in a local collection. If you have no luck with that port, check other NZ ports, to see if the same vessel ever put in there and if it did, check those institutions in turn.

You may find a list of NZ museums here and a directory of NZ libraries here.

A helpful source in determining which ports a particular vessel visited is "Shipping to New Zealand 1839-1889" popularly called the Comber Index after its compiler. The Comber Index doesn't contain passenger information or references to pictures, but it does give the departure dates, brief voyage details, and arrival ports and dates of immigrant ships to NZ. 

The Central Auckland Research Centre holds a copy of the Comber Index on microfiche.

Although the idea of checking libraries, archives and museums seems very straightforward (though time-consuming), there are a couple of other important points to keep in mind.

Firstly, the bulk of photo collections are not yet digitised, so even if the library or museum of the port of interest to you has an online digital archive, do not assume that the lack of a hit on that database indicates that no image is held. What is available in digital form may well be only a selection from the total collection of photos owned, so enquire specifically about your vessel of interest to the relevant institution.

The Heritage Images Online collection held at the Auckland Library is an example of the sort of situation I am talking about. The online collection of images is over 40,000 (not just ships, of course!), but the total collection is over half a million. 

If local collections at ports of interest don't yield an image, try Matapihi - a site that lists amongst other things, pictures contributed from a range of large national collections such as Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, which holds material reflecting the entire country, not just one region.

If a ship also visited Australian ports, a picture may be held in that country, if not here. Try the National Library of Australia's Picture Australia website that works in a similar way, reporting the holdings of many Australian contributing collections.

Secondly, you need to be careful to identify your vessel correctly. If you are lucky there will be enough information accompanying the image in the collection to be sure that you have the correct ship, but this is not guaranteed. If the relevant details are lacking then you need to be wary. Not only might there be two vessels afloat at the same time using the same name, but many shipping companies 'recycled' ship names, renaming new vessels with traditional company names as they took them into their fleet and disposed of the old vessel of that name.

So, (hypothetical example here),if you know that your ancestor's ship was the SEAHORSE owned by the J.J. Bloggs Shipping Company and arrived in 1874, check that photo you find of the SEAHORSE owned by J.J. Bloggs Shipping but dated 1885 very carefully. Is it the same vessel or the replacement? You may have to do some research on the history of the 1874 SEAHORSE to see if it was still afloat and owned by the same company. You could discover that it was wrecked in 1878, or that it was sold to another shipping company and sailing under adifferent name by 1885! (Which of course means you have to search for pictures under that alternative name, as well.)

Historical newspapers, encyclopaedias of shipwrecks, shipping company histories, and maritime sources such as Lloyds Register of Shipping, are some of the things that may be checked if you need to ensure that you have the correct ship. For information on Lloyds Register and associated sources, see the website of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in the UK.

The National Maritime Museum also holds a large collection of ship pictures. Another helpful website is The Ships List. Also try the New Zealand Maritime Index (vessel search) to identify pictures of ships that have been published in books relevant to NZ.

The Central Auckland Research Centre holds on CD-Rom an index listing the location of more than 11,000 ship pictures held in the State Library of New South Wales
Master index to ships pictures in the Mitchell Library: Sydney, Australia (1500-1991)
The above is not an exhaustive list of sources, but I hope it gives some ideas about where to start looking. If your search for a picture seems to hit a brick wall, don't give up. You never know what will turn up eventually and where you will stumble over the vessel you want.

For instance, if anybody is interested in the ship CITY OF AUCKLAND which brought out immigrants to New Zealand during the 1870s, there is a rather nice model of it in a glass case, sitting on display against the far back wall of the Central Auckland Research Centre, Level 2, in the Auckland Central Library, Lorne Street.


The growing Canadian family history collection

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I've been in this position for just over a year, and am starting to get to know this huge collection reasonably well now. However, nearly every question I am asked still brings me a new opportunity to discover a new resource, which I've previously not used.

Other staff members that have been here a few years tell me that they still find the same . . . Often you don't know the answer to the question until you've been asked. Luckily, as librarians, we're trained to find out for you, or at least point you in the right direction.

Our areas of excellence of course are New Zealand, Australia, the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), and Eire.

We have much smaller collections that cover USA, Canada, South Africa, Pacific Islands and Europe etc. So I've identified that these need building up.

We've made some really useful purchases recently for Canada for example. A few are specifically for Newfoundland, which only joined Canada in 1949.

Recent CD purchases for the area include:
A history of Newfoundland 1895 by D W Prowse

The gazetteer & classified business directory of Canada including Newfoundland, 1930 

Births, deaths & marriages in Newfoundland newspapers, 1810-1890 / compiled by Gertrude Crosbie ; produced and edited by the Maritime History Archive

Lovell's Canadian Dominion directory, 1871

Ships and seafarers of Atlantic Canada  / 
the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project

You can find a complete list if you search on our library catalogue under "call number" for 6 CAN. This will show what resources we have available for Canada. (nb country key = 2 AUS = Australia; 2 NZL = New Zealand; 4 SCOT = Scotland; 4 IRL = Ireland; 4 ENG = England; 4 WLS = Wales; 5 EUR = Europe; 6 USA = The States; 7 RSA = South Africa).

Subject key:AID = Finding Aids/How to books
BDM = Births, deaths and marriages
CEN = Census
DIR = Directories
FAM = Family histories
IMM = Immigration
MAP = Maps an atlases
OCC = Occupations
REL = Religion
SHI = Shipping

Kind regards to you all

Guest post: Passenger Lists - Where Did My Ancestor Come From?

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Guest contributor: Janelle Penney

When we start out researching our family tree, one of the first things we want to know is how did our first New Zealand ancestors get to this country?

For many of us, that means looking for passenger lists of the 19th or early 20th centuries. The problem for the new researcher (and sometimes the more experienced with a brick wall) is that there is no one-stop shop for this information - it is scattered amongst a range of sources, some on the Internet and some not; some in NZ and some overseas; some in published hard copy, but most not. Knowing where to look, and what to look for, is quite a task. So today I want to discuss some of the best resources that I know of as a librarian, in the hopes that they may help someone make that new discovery or breakthrough.

Firstly, a little history about immigration to NZ. There were different immigration schemes that operated at different times and places, and the kinds of records that they left behind vary greatly. Schemes were run by private immigration (land) companies, by provincial governments, by central government and by private groups based on religious or ethnic affiliation. (And of course, some people paid their own passage here, seeking their fortune on the land, in business or on the goldfields.)

A list of sources on this complex situation, can be found amongst the research guides available on the website of Archives New Zealand.

On a first look-through, the list of possible sources seems a bit overwhelming, particularly if you only have a vague idea of when and where your family first showed up in New Zealand. So, the key is to work on that question of "when and where" till you have as accurate an idea as you can of the answer.

Look at electoral rolls, post office directories, and records of birth, death and marriage, to establish a timeline and location. Once you know that, check to see what resources exist for the nearest port, in the time period they first appear. As a rule of thumb, it is best to assume that people settled somewhere in the vicinity of their port of first entrance to NZ. This of course was not always the case, but it happened frequently, so start with that assumption till proven otherwise.

Many libraries or museums around NZ have worked to develop indexes of passenger arrivals based on their local port. For many, the records available for the purpose were mostly the passenger lists published regularly in the local paper as ships arrived in the port, supplemented with any official sources they have been able to access. Some of these indexes are now available online.


WARNING. It is always tempting to just jump in when searching a newly-found database, but you are not helping your research efforts at all if you don't also read about what it contains  (or doesn't!) and how it is arranged. You may be missing some vital piece of information and not getting a hit on your search because you didn't know some fact that was explained in the introduction to that database which you skipped in your excitement. BE SMART AND READ THE NOTES.

Many official passenger lists are held by the government department called Archives New Zealand. Previously only accessible through (Wellington-based) card indexes, these are now being digitised in a joint project with the Latter Day Saints' This is an ongoing project so you may need to keep checking for your family names till you get a hit, but when you do, you will be able to obtain (without charge) an image of the original passenger list. See a similar joint project that operates between The National Archives UK and the commercial site Findmypast is 'Ancestorsonboard' which traces passengers leaving UK ports for all destinations (NZ included) from 1890 to 1960. It can be searched for free on the Internet but copies of the transcribed results or images of the original passenger lists must be purchased.

The Central Auckland Research Centre has a subscription to this database which visitors may book and use to either do a search from scratch, or, if they already have done the free part of the search online, to obtain the image of the passenger list via our subscription access without further charge, if a memory stick is used, or standard photocopying costs if a paper printout is made. (Note, the colour versions although a dollar for an A4 page, often look much better than the cheaper black and white). Bookings for access to this are required as the number of people who can use the subscription at one time is limited.

Not all websites offering passenger lists are run by government departments or institutions. There are also many individuals out there who run free websites where they offer transcriptions of passenger lists as a goodwill contribution to the family history research community. There are too many to give an exhaustive list here, but a few of my favourites are Denise and Peter's Our Stuff ; New Zealand Yesteryearsand New Zealand Bound

Last word. If you still can't find that elusive record, do not despair. More and more material is being made available on the Internet as time goes by. That breakthrough may be just around the corner!

Review of the TransTasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge

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anzac_poppies.jpgAnother Anzac Day has been and gone, and our desire to remember our people who served in the Wars doesn't seem to be waning.

With much pride, I watched my 10-year old twin daughters parade with their Cub Scout Pack at the citizens Anzac commemoration in Browns Bay. It was a cold wet morning, and despite this, there were just as many people of all ages this year, as there have been in previous years' when it was fine and dry.

At the end of March, Twigs of Yore blogger, Shelley, and myself, issued a TransTasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge to get people to share their stories of their loved ones and their sacrifices.

Like the Anzac Day parade, I was humbled to see how many people wanted to pay tribute and remember their family members. Naturally, most bloggers were Aussies or Kiwis, but we also had bloggers from UK and the US, sharing their family stories of their own Anzacs.

Not all the stories are of Kiwis or Aussies who died during one of the Wars. Some of the stories are of survivors - but bloggers felt that they wanted to honour the courage and the sacrifice and share their families' stories.

Death during war, is the "ultimate sacrifice" for your country. But all those who served made huge sacrifices. They returned completely different people from the ones that left, lives altered forever. The families that had been left behind also sacrificed much.
Participants in our blog challenge were to:
Write a blog post about an Australian or New Zealander serviceman or woman's family, and the impact war had on their family history.

Publish their post by 25 April 2011

Post a comment with the URL on this blog, or under discussions on the 
Auckland Research Centre's Facebook page

Shelley and I received 22 wonderful family stories between us. These then are the stories
Sarndra Wilson:- Private William PERREAU 40633 - returned serviceman and Leonard Edward MOSS - plane was shot down in World War II on 28 August 1942

Wallace James Kirkpatrick:- Many KIRKPATRICK family members lost

Shauna Hicks:- Charles Douglas SPENCER - returned serviceman

Merron Riddiford:- Arthur Leonard HOLMES - killed in France in 1918

Sharon Brennan:- Alan Seabrook MITCHELL - killed over Munich on 2 October 1943

Michelle Patient:- Eric Hugh BARKER - killed at Messines Ridge, on the 7th June 1917

Anne Coppell:- A family changed by war

Helen Violet Smith:- George Howard BUSBY - returned serviceman

Julie Groucher:- Edward ELLIS - returned serviceman

Aillin O'Brien:- George Brown FULLERTON, DCM - died on 12 June 1917 from wounds received during the Battle of Messines and Harold Heathcote Hayes CHAMBERS - died at Gallipoli of wounds received between 25 and 28 April 1915 and Stanley CHAMBERS - killed in action, on September 23, at the Dardanelles

Margaret GaffneyPeter Michael GAFFANAY - died 5 April 1918 from shell wounds to face and neck

Jill Ball:- John Bertram CHATFIELD - died 3 May 1917 Battlefield at Bullecourt

Alison:- Hugh O'BRIEN - killed in action 23 July 1916

Rosemary:- Reginald Sydney MERRETT - killed in action 9 April 1917

Cassmob:- William Rudolph KUNKEL - wounded and missing in action, presumed dead (Korea), on 16 November 1952

Shelley:- Aircraftman Leonard John Couper LEE - returned WWII serviceman (Japanese POW)

Tanya Honey:- James (Milton) SIMMONS - killed in action at Pozieres 29 July 1916

Vicky Kingdom:- Ernest Henry Noy and Leslie Cyril Noy - both died Battle of Bullecourt on 11th April 1917

Noleen Sutton:- George Ogden - invalided home in 1917 and died in 1919

You can read their blogs on our Facebook discussion page.

A special mention needs to go to Helen Vail, for her "100 NZ WW1 Memorials 1914-2014" blogsite. Helen's goal is to personally visit and collate information from 100 New Zealand World War One Memorials throughout New Zealand by August 2014 to commemorate the 100 year Anniversary of the start of World War One and to honour those who paid the ultimate price. My thanks for Shauna Hicks for sharing this blog with us via Twitter. We wish Helen well on her personal challenge.

Thanks also to the National Archives of Australia, who left their link to information about their Shellshocked Exhibition and some of the personal stories that they have collected.

Thanks to everyone who participated and shared their family's stories with us.

Thank you all for participating by reading their stories.


For the FallenThey shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. 
Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)