Archive for October 2012

The AtoJs Online

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The AtoJs are a wonderful resource which should not be ignored by family historians interested in their New Zealand history.

These have been digitised and put online by the National Library of New Zealand, who describe the AtoJs:

AtoJs Online contains a collection of digitised volumes of the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives and the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives. The collection currently covers the years 1854 to 1930.

There are two main ways to find information in AtoJs Online: searching and browsing. Searching lets you enter a query term and retrieves reports that contain that term. Browsing lets you look at all the reports, starting with a session, a volume or a section. All the reports on the site can be searched and browsed.
I found gems of information on Fencibles putting their cases in front of a committee formed to consider Pensioners' Petitions.

First up was John Hoop who was unable to attend a Sunday Parade in Otahuhu because of gout. As a consequence he had his cottage with its acre taken from him. In his petition John Hoop talks about being discharged in 1843 and soon after running a public house in Liverpool for 12 months, he then travelled to Ireland where he set up a shoemaking shop in Belfast. It was after that he joined the Fencibles, coming out to New Zealand with his wife.

He joined the Fencibles with the promise of being given a cottage with an acre of land but when he arrived he found one hadn’t been assigned to him in Otahuhu where he was meant to live. As he had not been given the promised cottage he decided to live in Queen Street, in central Auckland, and carry on his shoemaking business there. He was still expected to attend the Sunday Parade in Otahuhu, a walk of 14 miles all up. By not attending he lost any rights he had as a Fencible.

John Bolton was another Fencible who never got his promised cottage. He arrived in New Zealand in 1852 with his wife and three children. On arrival he was informed that those who had a trade could live in town but would still be entitled to their promised cottage and acre. Unfortunately, by not drawing for one of the settlements he forfeited his right to the land.

Joseph Symes had been in the 2nd Dragoons. After he was discharged he worked as a tailor in Limerick before joining the local force. He came to New Zealand as a Fencible on the promise of a cottage and an acre. When he arrived there was no cottage for him, his wife and their six children. They had to ‘lie on ferns or under a wooden shed.’ He was to be sent to Howick but to make ends meet he applied to stay in the city of Auckland so he could work as a Tailor. The expectation was that he would still have to attend Sunday Parades in Howick, otherwise he would be dismissed from the Fencibles and lose any privileges. The walk to Howick was that of 15 miles and involved crossing a river which, as the petitioner said, with his constitution and at his age was not possible.

There is a complete set of printed bound versions of the AtoJs from 1858 through to 2011 at the Central Auckland Research Centre, and almost complete sets at North Auckland Research Centre and West Auckland Research Centre. Please ring each Research Centre to check for your required year.


SLC 2 NZ research weekend

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Jan Gow regularly takes tour groups of people to Salt Lake City, to research in FamilySearch's Family History Centre - the biggest family history library in the world.

Its a wonderful opportunity for people to make full use of the plentitude of resources in Salt Lake City, but also to research collaboratively in a group.

She decided to try and recreate the experience in New Zealand over the long Labour Weekend, called it SLC 2 NZ (Salt Lake City to New Zealand) and invited myself and Marie to take part as "experts", although Marie wasn't able to join us till Saturday evening due to work commitments. Lyn McOnie and Lyn Whelan were two other "experts" that joined us for the weekend.

On the Friday, we arrived at about 1.30pm and after the introductions, the experts held reference interviews with the guests and examining their pedigree charts to suggest where to look next.

Lyn McOnie gave a lecture on research methodology and how to keep a research log; and Jan gave a talk on how to use Treepad and other useful tools.

On Saturday, we were all up bright and early, as we needed to be in the conference room for a live webinar starting at 8am, from Salt Lake City by Phillip Dunn of FamilySearch.

Phillip gave us useful tips like:

  • How to search FamilySearch by either first name or surname
  • That you can do up to three wildcards for one name
  • Can also do wildcard prefix or suffix on names
  • To do a parent search - find a family of children: - Leave main name boxes empty- Fill birthplace, year ranges- Check parents, fill in parent boxes (just mother's first name, not mother’s surname)
And to do out of wedlock searches do the parent search as above, but type Mother’s full name (but leave father's blank).

In the afternoon, we had a collaborative research session. We picked someone's "brick wall", and everything that was known about that family was written up on one white board.

Next we were all assigned a website to search and different bits of information to search for. When we found something, we called it out, and the information was added to the whiteboard.

We had a fab time, finding births, deaths and marriages for various family members; finding census records. It was huge fun! We found out quite a bit about the family in the end!

The rest of the weekend, we all did a mixture of individual research, one-on-one research between guests and "experts", and more presentations and shared learning experiences.

Other speakers and presentations over the weekend:

The days were long days - starting about 9am and not finishing till about 8.30pm - but they were hugely enjoyable.

We were privileged to be part of this, and really hope that this event is repeated again and that we are invited back!

Happy hunting


. . . handbags, hosiery, handkerchiefs, gloves, haberdashery, needleworkers’ needs, stationery . . .


Seven department stores feature in CARC’s new Atrium display “The heyday of Auckland’s department stores”.

Irish-born sisters Mary Jane and Charlotte Milne established the first of these stores in 1867, aiming to supply “the women of Auckland with High Class Millinery and Mantles”. When Charlotte married, her husband Henry Charles Choyce also became a partner and Milne & Choyce was born.

Court brothers George and Fred opened Karangahape Road drapery store The Beehive in 1886 after arriving from Birmingham. A third brother - John - soon joined them and Fred retired. After their sons entered the business in 1902, George and John established separate firms.

In 1924 George Court’s Big Store opened in K’Road boasting “electric lifts with inlaid wooden interiors and uniformed attendants delivering customers to each floor.” A 350-seat rooftop tearooms opened in 1934 - “a happy combination of restfulness and dignity but with an entire absence of pretentious ornament.”

Meanwhile, John Court Limited’s building on Queen Street quickly grew to eight storeys, dominating the skyline and becoming Auckland icon – the J.C.L. corner. It, too, had rooftop tearooms but male patrons were also offered an adjacent smoking lounge with furniture in “two shades of dark brown.”

John and Emily Rendell established their department store in 1882. Rendell’s stayed open until 11.00 p.m. on Saturday nights and all six of their daughters worked in the store. “On more than one occasion after 17 hours on the job, there would be a slim, childish figure draped over a sample box, with dozens of men’s stiff collars, ladies’ kid gloves and scarves of all shapes and sizes surrounding her.”

Australian John McKenzie opened his first fancy goods store in New Zealand in 1910. By the time McKenzie’s was sold 60 years later, the business had grown to include 70 stores and 1,800 staff.

Marianne Smith opened a small drapery shop in 1880, she was soon joined by her husband William and brother Andrew Caughey, and the shop became Smith & Caughey. The company still operates from its Art Deco Queen Street premises designed by architect Roy A. Lippincott and completed in 1929.

Farmers, established in 1909, features in the display with photographs of company mascot Hector the parrot (who died in 1971 aged 131 and was later stuffed and put on display); the children’s rooftop playground; the Santa parade; and the Farmers free bus service first offered to customers in 1922.

References, and also for further information please see the following books at Central Auckland Research Centre:

An Auckland network by Angela Caughey

Family History Expo Christchurch, 13-14 October 2012

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Many of you may be unaware that this event was held recently in Christchurch as part of the rebuild Christchurch programme.  It was hosted by the Family History Society of New Zealand which is a group of about 100 members nationally, with it’s base in Christchurch.

What had started as a small group of libraries, archives and museums getting together to promote their sectors of the community quickly grew and by Saturday 13 October there were 53 exhibitors; including the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, Archives New Zealand, National Library, Find My Past, and Auckland Libraries.  A string of talks were given by different people over the two days covering a variety of subjects from beginning family history to using websites.

Joanne Graves and I attended representing Auckland Libraries.  We really enjoyed ourselves; it was great to see such a range of community archives together in one place.  I was entranced by the young girl in Edwardian costume playing with the games of the period.  There was a group of exhibitors who wore Victorian/Edwardian costume all week-end and by the end on Sunday they were stifling – how did our ancestors cope?

While we were in Christchurch we were lucky enough to be shown around the new Library in Peterborough Street and Archives opposite.  These tours gave us an appreciation of the collections in both places which we were able to use when advising customers over the week-end and also how badly damaged some of the buildings are.  Many of those we spoke to at the Expo had not yet ventured into the new libraries (the main library is split over two sites, the second in Tuam Street) as the on-going shakes have really taken their toll.

Overall, I think that this was a wonderful event, with a great atmosphere - we were pleased to meet so many of you.  Joanne and I are pleased that we were able to attend to support Christchurch and this event.  You can see some more of the photos of the week-end on Auckland Research Centre’s Facebook page.

Bryant and May matchgirls' strike June/July 1888

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Many of those who did history at secondary school in New Zealand in the 1970s will recall learning about the Bryant and May matchgirl strike and the part that Annie Besant played in this. 

Not only did those working in the factory strike but they were also supported by many of the outworkers who made the matchboxes and is recognised as the first strike by unorganised workers to gain national publicity and was a key to the founding of unions nationwide.

In late June / early July 1888, some 1400 workers from the Bryant and May match factory in the East End of London went on strike against their working conditions and unfair practices imposed on them by the management.  The strike lasted a little over two weeks but during that time the girls came to the notice of the national press and as a consequence some very public and powerful people.  Some supported the girls in their attempts while others were equally loud in their opposition.

Unfortunately, few records about those who participated in the strike survive.  However, a strike fund was set up to assist the strikers and a register kept recording payments to the women.  The details in this register form a database of 714 names and can be viewed on FindMyPast UK website (available free of charge in Auckland Libraries), in the database Matchworkers Strike, Bow, 1888. 

Details given on the database are:- name, address, occupation, wages, how much paid by the strike fund, marital status and who they lived with. 

The register represents only about 50% of those involved in the strike but what a find if one is an ancestor as these women have otherwise faded from history as individuals participating in a major event in British history.

If you want to know more about the strike, read:

Articles were published in newspapers at the time and some can be viewed through the Digital Library on the libraries’ website – particularly the Times and Guardian and Observer.

Procession of matchworkers to Westminster July 1888
(held by TUC Library collections, London Metropolitan University)

Marie Hickey