Archive for January 2013

2013 Family History Lunchtime series begins 13 Feb

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From February to November, fortnightly on a Wednesday lunchtime, the Central Auckland Research Centre hosts free Family History Lunchtime sessions at Central City Library.

These events are very popular, and cover many subjects related to family history. Sometimes they are country-specific: researching in Scotland for example, sometimes they relate to researching using particular record sets - wills and probates, or passenger lists for example.

Experts from our Library will often speak on their subject of expertise, representing one of our four research centres or Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Often our events are linked culturally or historically to events that are happening Auckland-wide - such as Waitangi Day, Year of the Snake or Pasifika for example.

Sometimes the speakers come from other repositories such as Church archives, Council archives, or maybe even a museum.

The speakers may be amateur researchers, or they may be in the field professionally. We often have local historians speak for us.

Often our speakers are members of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists.

We've even been lucky enough at times, to have international guest speakers from genealogy websites Ancestry, FindMyPast, The Genealogist and Family Search.

Sometimes our speakers have been professional genealogical researchers, local or international.

We have a good mix of speakers coming up for the next six months.

We have a new look events page, and you now just need to select "family history" in the scroll down menu, to find out what is happening in the next couple of months.

Or your local library may have our event leaflet showing the first six months of our lunchtime sessions - ask your friendly librarian.

Lunchtimes sessions are fortnightly on a Wednesday, 12 - 1pm unless otherwise stated, and are usually held in the Whare Wananga, L2 Central Library, Lorne Street, Auckland.

Bookings are essential, and you can book either via the website, or email us:, or phone 09 307 7771.

Don't forget our NEW Family History Club begins on Sunday, February 10, 10.30am-3.30pm.

Research Centre staff are often asked to speak at other Auckland Libraries branches, and also for other community groups and organisations - so keep an eye out for those events too!

You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to find out more!

Hope to see you soon!

Happy hunting


Tombstone Tuesday: Helena Williams, St Matthias' Church, Panmure

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Heritage Images database
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-RIC273

Showing the grave and tombstone of Helena Williams at St Matthias' Church, Panmure.

The inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of Helena dearly beloved wife of William Perkin Williams and eldest beloved daughter of Alfred and Sarah Pollard died 12th March 1890 aged 21 years.

Not lost but gone before.

Make a family history scrapbook

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Twelve months ago, Auckland Library's Sir George Grey Special Collections held the exhibition Scrapbooks, noting that scrapbooking is a great way to display your family history research. 

In that vein, why not make 2013 the year to start researching a heritage album for a special event in your family – such as a wedding anniversary or a big birthday? We have a couple of gorgeous books in the Central Auckland Research Centre on just this topic and they are worth a browse for a wealth of tips and ideas to get you inspired and motivated. 

They include tips such as how scrapbookers have gone about creating special books such as a 70th birthday album; how to sort all those random photos sitting in shoe boxes into “scrapbookable” categories; and guidelines on how to keep the flow going between albums if your project will extend over several books. There are also ideas on how to make your presentation more authentic, with guides to vintage fabrics as well as the popular colors and motifs of the day (bearing in mind the books have a North American bias.)

Another suggestion to make an ancestor more “real” is to research events during their lifetime and add these tidbits into the scrapbook -- what events were happening in the world when they were born, started school, or became a teenager? Printing or scanning headlines from newspapers is not only a terrific way to add a sense of social history to a personal story but a fun way to get the children involved. (We have on microfilm the NZ Herald going back to 1863, as well as the Auckland Star and assorted local papers.)

Making a family scrapbook could be just the thing to involve the kids in over the school holidays and when school starts, even the weekends – the Research Centre is open from 10am-4pm Saturdays and Sundays (9am to 8pm weekdays).
Check out Family History Scrapbooking by Becky Higgins 
and Scrapbooking Your family History by Maureen Taylor. 

Both are located at 1 GEN DOC in the Research Centre shelves but are reference only titles. Borrowable copies of the latter book and other titles like it, are also available through Auckland Libraries.

Happy scrapbooking.

Joanne Graves
PS - why not view Sir George Grey Special Collections archived online exhibitions?

Central Library's Family History Club

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Auckland Libraries presents their family history club

Sundays:- 10 February, 5 May, 11 August, 10 November,

10.30am to 3.30pm

In response to demand . . . 

Curious about your family history? Want to know where to start?

Brick wall? Lack of time? Has your research been gathering dust and you want to restart? Then the Family History Club is for you!

Join experts from Auckland Libraries and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists for a day of research.

Tea and coffee supplied, please bring your own lunch.

Whare Wānanga – opposite the Central Auckland Research Centre, level 2, Central City Library

Contact the Central Auckland Research Centre 09 307 7771 to book
Or email

Find out more:

Discounted parking available in the Victoria Street East carpark - see your friendly librarian on the day!

See our other events for February and March 

Tombstone Tuesday: Michael Gallagher, Symonds Street Cemetery

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Heritage Images database
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-RIC265

Showing the grave and tombstone of Michael Gallagher in Symonds Street Cemetery.

The inscription reads:

In affectionate remembrance of Michael Gallagher who died May 26 1894 aged 38 years.

Erected by his widow, H K Gallagher.

In charity with all men.
The grave and headstone of his mother Mary Gallagher is partly visible to the left.

Improve your skills at reading old English handwriting . . .

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Palaeography is the study of old handwriting and The National Archives UK offers an excellent online tutorial that may help you with deciphering tricky letters and the spelling of words that appear on family history records. Census records often contain abbreviations that at the time of writing may have been common knowledge, but can leave us quite puzzled by their meaning as well as with an inability to identify the letters. I particularly found the historic county abbreviations useful and often there was more than one in use. For example, Shropshire was referred to as Shrops and Salop – this last variation is not intuitive in any sense!

You can also see examples of handwriting from the National Archives interactive tutorial that is available at

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3275 

I also recommend Hilary Marshall’s book Palaeography for Family and Local Historians, there is a copy held at the Central Auckland Research Centre, under the call number 4 ENG AID.

You never know what you may decipher!


Tombstone Tuesday: Joseph Goold and Isaac & Sarah Gwynne in St Mark's Cemetery, Remuera

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Heritage Images database
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-RIC261

Showing the graves and tombstones of Joseph Bennet Goold, Isaac Gwynne and Sarah Gwynne in St Mark's Cemetery, Remuera.

The inscriptions read:

'Jesus Christ tasted death for every man'.

In loving memory of Joseph Isaac Goold of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England, who died November 25th 1890 aged 27 years.

Sacred to the memory of Isaac Gwynne, who departed this life 7th July 1880 aged 35 years. Requiescat in peace.

Also his beloved wife, Sarah Gwynne, who departed this life December 6th 1893 aged 45 years.
The grave and tombstone of James Sutton is also partly visible to the left.

The family history newsletter

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While we’re all quite obsessed with the past, it’s worth remembering that one day we will be the past, and while our lives may not seem terribly fascinating to us, the great grand kids may find it quite interesting one day. A family newsletter could be a terrific way to get some of that information preserved in a fun way, both digitally and in print; the beauty of it is that it could involve different family members in its production – from the research, to designing the newsletter, to using software to play around with images.

On the shelves in the Central Auckland Research Centre is Creating Family Newsletters -  123 ideas for sharing memorable moments with family and friends by Elaine Floyd (1 GEN DOC - reference only) – “.” It is packed with ideas for starting your own family newsletter including creative ways to use photographs, how to put together a hand made newsletter (fab for the crafty types), and ideas on themes, such as weddings, school news and birthdays. Some aspects of the book are dated in terms of software and websites (the blog hadn’t even been invented) but ideas will translate both digitally and in to the written word. It even has an “Idea Tools” chapter which even includes an A to Z of dozens of possible ideas to name the newsletter.

Another book that could be useful is To Our Children’s Children: Preserving family histories for generations to come, by Bob Green (1 GEN DOC on our shelves). A very useful tool when it comes to interviewing the rellies, as it includes hundreds of questions to ask when putting together a family history – some terrific ways to jog the memory.

There is also a borrowable copy in the Auckland Library system but a browse through will get the ideas flowing.

Happy newsletter planning!

Joanne Graves

Treasure Chest Thursday: "Miscellaneous Films"

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In the Central Auckland Research Centre, we have a collection of microfilm collectively called “Miscellaneous Films”. These are a series of films covering a variety of resources and have been grouped together in the Research Centre, just for the convenience of storage.

So, what sort of material can be found amongst this collection?

There is The diary of William Bambridge containing an account of his journey from England to New Zealand in 1841 which runs to two films.

William Bambridge was a school teacher who accompanied William Charles Cotton and Bishop Selwyn to the Te Waimate Mission. They arrived at the Bay of Islands on 20 June 1842 and he remained until December 1847.

Other items include:-

 The collection includes other diaries, papers of several people, including Joseph Banks. It is definitely something for those particularly interested in the early history of New Zealand to have a look at.

No doubt there are some gold nuggets hidden amongst the material that we are unaware of and you may be just the person to find it.

Marie Hickey 

Tombstone Tuesday: Kensey, Halstead, Stevenson at St Andrew's Church, Epsom

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Heritage Images database
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-RIC260

Showing the graves and tombstones of Elizabeth Kensey, Anne Dines Halstead, James Stevenson, James Percy Stevenson, Richard Dines Halstead, and Leigh Dines Halstead at St Andrew's Church, Epsom.

The tombstone of James and Annie Jackson is partly visible in the background.

The inscriptions read:

Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth, relict of the late Thomas Kensey and mother of Anne Dines Halstead. Died 27th July 1878 aged 80 years.

The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy morning shall be (rest obscured).

Affectionate remembrance of James Percy, infant son of the late James Stevenson, died April 187-, aged 9 months 17 days.

In affectionate remembrance of James Stevenson, son-in-law of the late L.D. Halstead who departed this life Nov 14th 1875 aged 33 years. (The rest of the text is obscured).

Sacred to the memory of Richard Dines, the second and beloved son of Leigh and Annes Dines Halstead who was killed by a fall from a horse, March 20th 1871 aged 14 years. (The inscription for Leigh Dines Halstead is obscured)

In loving memory of Anne Dines Halstead who departed this life 22nd August 1890 after long suffering which she bore with sweet patience and Christian resignation

Illnesses from the past

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Historical death certificates state the cause of death. But have you ever scratched your head and wondered what the strange cause of death actually was, and what it that would translate to in today’s medical terms?

One of my colleagues pointed out a very helpful resource of Old Names for Illnesses and Causes of Death and it can be quite revealing about the types of medical conditions our ancestors were diagnosed with.

Below are a few from the list for you to ponder . . . can you work out what they are?

  • Black Blood             • Podagra
  • Bladder in Throat     • Phthisis
  • Erysipelas                 • Milk Sickness

Scroll down to the read what today’s equivalent is . . . .

An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor away
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19200610-32-3
Heritage Images, Digital Library

Showing the sick bay at St Stephen's College, 1922
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-4144
Heritage Images, Digital Library

Illnesses and Causes of Death is accessible at the link below under the heading Articles to help your Genealogical Research.

  • Black Blood - Syphilis
  • Bladder in Throat - Diptheria
  • Erysipelas - Contagious skin disease, due to Streptococci with vesicular and bulbous lesions
  • Milk Sickness - Disease from milk of cattle which had eaten poisonous weeds
  • Podagra – Gout
  • Phthisis - Chronic wasting away or a name for tuberculosis (TB)

For further information on this topic the Central Auckland Research Centre also has a reference only book A Dictionary of Medical & Related Terms for the Family Historian by Joan E. Grundy. The call number is 1 GEN AID.



Tombstone Tuesday: The Kunst family, Symonds Street Cemetery

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Heritage Images database
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-RIC257

Showing the grave and tombstone of Philip James Kunst, Helena Kunst, Charles Albert Kunst and Mary Ann Kunst in the Symonds Street Cemetery.

The inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of Philip James Kunst, printer of the city who died August 9 1884 aged 78 years, Helena his wife August 30 1894 aged 68 years, Charles Albert Kunst died July 16 1895 aged 43 years, Mary Ann Kunst died June 12 1855 aged 9 months