Archive for January 2012

Guest post: Getting more from the internet

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Guest contributor: Marie Hickey

We have recently received the Christmas 2011 issue of Who do you think you are? Magazine in the Central Auckland Research Centre. I always enjoy reading this magazine as there is usually something of interest and this issue is no different as it is “chocca block”  with interesting articles.
There are explanations of the nursing records which have gone on line at and the Irish prison records 1790-1920 which are now on line at While the latter is a subscription database you can search the index for free but will have to pay to view the record. As is usual with this time of the year, there is a round up of 50 essential websites which include the “usual suspects” but there is mention of others which you may be unaware of, as well as information on new items to come available on the sites in the coming year. It is just so easy to become absorbed with the data on some of these sites.
I am the first to admit that I don’t use the internet to my best advantage so the article “Get more from the internet” was very helpful for me as it gives a number of tips and tricks which makes searching on the internet much easier. While on the subject of the internet, there is an article about the new British Library newspaper site and digitisation project. Postal workers records were published on last year which was great for those of us with Post Office ancestors so the article on postal workers should be of interest to you. 
Got a shop-keeper/worker in the family? There is a bit about some websites that may be useful.
Just as a short postscript, if you have ancestors in London, you will be interested to know that the London electoral rolls 1835-1965 were published on last week. In the main, these only give the name of the person, their address and qualification to vote. However, in some circumstances you get information about rent paid, to whom, whether or not the flat was furnished and where in the building it is eg 2nd floor at front – all useful information if you can get it.
As I say, this issue was a really good read. We have a non-borrowable copy in the Central Auckland Research Centre but you may be able to borrow a copy from another library alternatively, it should be available in the shops here probably next month but do check with your local magazine shop about this.

Marie Hickey

Genealogical Thrillers


I'm on my summer holidays at the moment. Its a time to catch up with all forms of relaxation, including reading for entertainment. So forgive me, if just this once, I make a departure from talking about non-fiction and reference books in this family history blog. 

Before I went on holiday, there was a conversation in the Research Centre which involved our colleague Maureen talking about genealogical thrillers/mysteries. I was intrigued. 

My favourite genre when reading fiction, is historical fiction. I do also read a lot of thrillers and mysteries too. 

Family history research itself gives the researcher such satisfaction when a mystery is resolved. So the idea of bundling all these subjects together to create a fictional genre delighted me. 

I resolved that my summer reading list would be based on genealogical fiction. 

My Twitter friend Alex (@wychwoodnz) gave me a few titles to add to the ones that Maureen had already suggested.  

The blood detective by Dan Waddell
When the naked, mutilated body of a man is found in a Notting Hill graveyard and the police investigation led by Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his colleague Detective Superintendent Heather Jenkins yields few results, a closer look at the corpse reveals that what looked at first glance like superficial knife wounds on the victim’s chest is actually a string of carved letters and numbers, an index number referring to a file in city archives containing birth and death certificates and marriage licenses. Family historian Nigel Barnes is put on the case. As one after another victim is found in various locations all over London, each with a different mutilation but the same index number carved into their skin, Barnes and the police work frantically to figure out how the corresponding files are connected. With no clues to be found in the present, Barnes must now search the archives of the past to solve the mystery behind a string of 100-year-old murders. Only then will it be possible to stop the present series of gruesome killings, but will they be able to do so before the killer ensnares his next victim? Barnes, Foster, and Jenkins enter a race against time and before the end of the investigation, one of them will get much too close for comfort. 

Blood atonement by Dan Waddell
Genealogist Nigel Barnes's second case leads him into the dark heart of the Mormon church and a gruesome, century-old secret. Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster is called to a homicide at the home of a single mother in Queens Park, London. Her throat has been cut from ear to ear and her body dumped in the garden. Her daughter and only child, Naomi, who has just turned fourteen that day, is missing. As the hours tick by, the feeling grows among Foster's colleagues that this is most likely becoming a double-murder inquiry. With nothing in the present to indicate a motive, Foster decides to delve into the dead woman's past only to find out she does not have one. He calls on genealogist Nigel Barnes. The trail takes Barnes back to late Victorian England where it abruptly ends with a young couple who came from the United States to England. Nigel's quest takes him on trip through the violent history of the Mormon church as he and Foster race to solve a shameful, long-kept secret that is about to have bloody repercussions in the present, and for which someone is seeking vengeance. 

In the blood by Fay Sampson
Suzie Fewings is a keen family history researcher. She's delighted when she discovers an ancestor with the same name as her teenage son. But what she finds out about the seventeenth-century Thomas casts a darker shadow than she expected. When her own Tom's girlfriend is found dead in mysterious circumstances, Suzie finds it hard to suppress her growing fears that Tom has inherited more than a name from his predecessor. 

Pale as the dead by Fiona Mountain
Natasha Blake is a genealogist or "ancestor" detective. Her investigations are literally a matter of life and death, involving her in secrets, scandals and supernatural happenings; forgotten tragedies and buried crimes. This time she delves into the pre-Raphaelite past in search of a missing girl. 

Bloodline by Fiona Mountain
An old man who had commissioned a family tree of his granddaughter's boyfriend, is shot dead at his isolated farm in the Cotswolds, just as shocking facts about the past are brought to light. Is there a link? Seemingly unconnected yet haunting stories begin to emerge - two young soldiers - one German, one British - playing football in no man's land on Christmas Day 1914; a young couple's future ruined; Second World War land girls, inseparable friends torn apart; and the eerie echo of a child in an English country house Natasha's investigation must solve a cold-blooded, blue-blooded crime, hidden for generations in the bluebell woods at Poacher's Dell.

The blood ballad by Rett MacPherson
Genealogist and mother of three Torie O’Shea is out birding on the cliffs of the Mississippi River as part of New Kassell, Missouri’s first ever bird-watching Olympics, when someone starts shooting at her and her partner. Disoriented and running for their lives, they stumble over an antique trunk and discover a badly beaten dead body stuffed inside. Soon after this disturbing event, musicologist Glen Morgan shows up at the Kendall House, Torie’s new textile museum, claiming to be Torie’s cousin and to have proof that Torie’s grandfather secretly may have written a number of popular songs for the Morgan Family Players, who were famous country music singers. Being a genealogist and the head of the local historical society, Torie doesn’t appreciate anyone shaking up a family tree that she has spent years putting together, but Glen’s old recordings are more than she can resist. After a little digging in the library and some serious snooping into the shooting, Torie starts to uncover secrets about her family and the town that even she didn’t know. 

All books were fun to read. I enjoyed reading about the main character using everyday genealogical tools and research methods to solve their mysteries. 

The author I have enjoyed the most so far is Dan Waddell. Although Alex has recommended I also read Steve Robinson's In the Blood - so I must be off to make a suggestion for purchase, as we don't have that title in as yet. 

Can you recommend any other genealogical fiction books to read? 

Happy reading! 

Happy New Year to you all

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The staff Central Auckland Research Centre and the Sir George Grey Special Collections, at Central Library would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. We hope you had a fabulous Christmas, and that this unsettled weather doesn't mean that you aren't having a good holiday. Hopefully, you are making use of the less than perfect weather to catch up on some research.

To assist you with your research you may wish to have a look at some of our fabulous new titles on our New Titles in January 2012: Special Collections | Research and Family History page.  

You may also wish to read the news article about our recent addition of FindMyPast UK to our Digital Library, which means it is now available in all 55 libraries.  

If you are coming into Central City, you might like to come in and have a look at the Scrapbook Exhibition in Sir George Grey Special Collections. Note the guided tours on Wednesday mornings . . .  

Please note that our Family History lunchtime series begins again on February 8, with Researching Your Whakapapa.  

Happy hunting