Archive for April 2014

Workday Wednesday: Land Girls

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A few weeks back here at Kintalk, we posted a blog on the Bomb Girls of England, those women and girls who worked in the munitions factories in the English countryside during World War One.

In New Zealand, as in the UK, the manpower shortage meant there was also a significant shortage of workers to another most important part of the economy – the farms -  and that problem was solved by the introduction of  The Women's Land Service.

An estimated 4000 young women, most often townies, were sent to work on farms with a view to doing the ‘man’s work.’ For many, it was their first time on a farm and there was no getting around the fact they had to become jacks-of-all-trades, and do real, gritty farm work.  They docked lambs tails, learned to shear, harvested, sowed, baled fertiliser planted, drove tractors  – any farm work that needed to be done, they did it.  Despite this massive culture shift, the head of the Women’s Land Service described the young women as “a very fine type, not afraid of work and willing to learn.”

By accounts, many of the girls were good workers. Maybe too good as the article “Is It Jealousy?” in the Auckland Star (2 November 1943) suggested when the North Otago Farmers’ Union moved to employ the girls as domestic workers instead of farm workers. The article suggested the farmers wanted the girls to be taken down a peg, and condemned the move.

Click here to read more.
The Land Service was not a scheme without problems, however. Locals could resent the girls, conditions could be gruelling, wives were often suspicious, and the girls themselves could be subject to sexual harassment.

Sadly, inspite of their labour keeping the country going during the war years, their contribution was largely unacknowledged; they didn't qualify as service people so were unable to be members of the RSA. In fact the only group to openly acknowledge their contribution was Federated Farmers. The Land Girls held reunions for many years after the war, and in recent times were finally given some recognition - Certificates of Appreciation from the New Zealand Government.

For more about the Land Girls, check out Dianne Bardsley’s book “The Land Girls: In a man’s world, 1939-1946.”  There are borrowable copies available in Auckland Libraries.


Military Monday:- 2014 TransTasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge honour roll


Here at the Central Auckland Research Centre, we have been enjoying reading the wonderful blog posts that have been submitted for our annual TransTasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge.

Its important to note that we commemorate Anzac Day - we don't celebrate it. 

Some of the blogs are about fallen or wounded soldiers as you might expect.

Out of a population of just over a million, 120,000 New Zealanders served in WWI - of which 18,500 died (2700 at Gallipoli) and 41,000 were wounded. 

Pauleen Cass' contribution to the Worldwide Genealogy blog tells us that out of a population of 4.9 million Australians, 416,809 enlisted for WWI - 58,961 of whom died and 166,811 were wounded.

A couple posts are to do with soldiers who died due to illness - the measles epidemic at the Trentham training camp as happened with Edward Tunnecliffe and so many others; and also the post-war Spanish influenza epidemic as with William Gowans.

Imagine enlisting thinking you were going off to train for war duties only to die before you left the country.

Or having survived the war and the horrible conditions, only to die at the end due to the influenza epidemic.

One returned serviceman Ernest Weeks died post-war under mysterious circumstances. Was it suicide? HIghly possible is the conclusion. Sadly loads of soldiers died this way. 

A couple of the posts dealt with mysteries that needed to be solved:- like who were Jack Russell and Leslie Leister?

Keith Ferguson died a POW in Borneo until just before the end of WWII, and while we don't have any specific information about what happened during his captivity, we know a little from other records about what life must have been like for him.

The post Postcards to the Front, gives a different perspective on the war. As well as leaving us wanting to know who Ena was, and how she came to be sending Frederick Charles Fisher postcards that he didn't seem to answer; it gives us insight into the types of relationships that may have been formed during the war if we use our imaginations. Did Ena wonder where Frederick was in years to come post-war?

Some bloggers like Sandy are concerned about the condition of our nation's family memorials. She writes in The plight of family memorials about her concerns that so many appear to be either neglected or vandalised. A concern she also shares with her article in Stuff Nation.

Some bloggers entered more than one post, or wrote about more than one person.

Most of them had wonderful photos and copies of documents to share with us.

I hope you enjoy reading our bloggers research, and I hope some of their research gives you ideas of where you might search for information for your own.

Blog Honour Roll:

Frederick Charles Fisher AIF & Ena Postcards to the Front, WWI
Family history across the seas
Pauleen Cass (@cassmob)

Keith Davey Ferguson, AMF, d Jul 1945, POW WWII
But mostly about cats

Neale Ferguson (@nealeferguson)

William James Gowans, AIF, wounded returned serviceman WWI, died influenza epidemic 1919

Jill Ball (@GeniAus)

Edward George Tunnecliffe, d Oct 1916, measles epidemic, Trentham
iwiKiwi - A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English and Scottish tribes
Maggie (@iwikiwichick)

Ernest William, veteran WWI, died post-war Aug 1919
From Helen V Smith's Keyboard
Helen Smith ()

Francis Kitto, d Nov 1918; Ernest Eric Scott Kitto, veteran WWII, d 2000

Fran (@TravelGenee)

Walter Kinghorn, d Oct 1917, Byaduk
Western Districts Families
Merron Riddiford (@mezzza68)

James Gavin d Jul 1916 Fromelles; James Paterson: d Apr 1917 Noreuil; Sydney Pentland: d Nov 1915 Gallipoli; Donald Black Pentland: d Oct 1917 Ypres; Jack Gavin: d Jun 1917 Messines.
Worldwide Genealogy - A Genealogical Collaboration

Pauleen Cass (@cassmob)

Jack Russell/Thomas Henry Adolphus Spencer, veteran WWI & WWII
Shauna Hicks History Enterprises

Shauna Hicks (@HicksShauna)

Malcolm Michael (Mack) Shepherd wounded Aug 1918, France
Family stories, photographs and memories

Diane Hewson (@DianeHewson)

The plight of family memorials
Magna Quies

Sarndra (@Magna_Quies)
See also Sandy's article in Stuff Nation on the subject

Lloyd Morris Geyer 
Melville Geyer 
Ernest Theodore Geyer

Strong Foundations

Frederick Charles Fisher, AIF, returned serviceman WWI; Leslie Gladstone Fisher, AIF returned serviceman WWI
Family history across the seas

Pauleen Cass (@cassmob)

George Henry Charles CARRETT III, AIF, returned serviceman WWI
Family Tree Frog
Alex Daw (@luvviealex)

Leslie Leister, KIA July 1916, Fromelles, France; RIP 
Anne's Family History
Anne Young

Restyn Walter (Pete) Randell, AIF/RAAF, returned serviceman WWII
Lone Tester HQ
Alona Tester (@LoneTester)

Contributions from the three earlier years:

When researching your military personnel, don't forget Auckland Libraries' useful Our boys, our families: Research guide.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the 2014 TransTasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge, to those who re-tweeted, Google+ and Facebooked it for us.

And thanks to you, the reader for helping us commemorate our people

Happy hunting SEONAID

Lest we forget

Treasure Chest Thursday: Hills Newspaper Index

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In the lead up to Anzac Day, there is another excellent resource in the Auckland Research Centre to share with you  – the Hills Newspaper Index to photographs published in the Auckland Weekly News between August 1914 and March 1919.

The Auckland Weekly News was filled not only with news and advertisements, but with an excellent assortment of photographs, and a service it offered during the war years was to publish a passport sized photograph of your wounded or killed family member. These photographs have all been indexed in to one easy-to-use volume, although its worth noting it does not included those photographs published in the Weekly News supplement.

Granted, the captions don’t give a lot of detail, and more information can be found on sites such as Auckland Museum’s cenotaph database but what this index offers you is a quick way to locate the actual issue – a nice addition to your family history records.  

The index is alphabetical according to surname and lists the date of the newspaper, rank of the person, name, details about regiment or NZ residence, and details such as ‘died of wounds’, ‘Died of sickness, ‘killed in action’, and so on. There are also group photographs in the mix.

If you wonder if your ancestor is included, then check the index next time you’re in the Central Auckland Research Centre. It can be found in our Family History NZ Military collection at 2 NZL MIL.


Hot off the press . . . Read all about it!

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In case you haven't heard the big NEWS, the New Zealand Herald has been digitized up to 31 December 1945 and is now accessible through Papers Past!  The Auckland Libraries homepage currently has a direct link to the database or alternatively, Papers Past can also be found under "P" in the A-Z listing of eResources in the Digital Library.

There has never been a better time to delve into your family history research and see what newsy items about your ancestors were published in the New Zealand Herald. Best of all, the contents can be downloaded, printed or saved in a pdf format for your records. If you would like some user friendly tips on getting the most out of searching on Papers Past, check out our research guides by clicking here.

While browsing through the pages you will also discover quirky, interesting articles and bits of gossip that will undoubtedly provide you with endless hours of distraction.

New Zealand Herald, 4 March 1939

New Zealand Herald, 22 March 1941

New Zealand Herald, 13 January 1927

Papers Past now has 83 titles and over 3 million pages of digitised content available. Besides the Herald and Auckland Star, the following list of historical newspapers on Papers Past also have Auckland content:

Albertland Gazette (1862-1864)
Daily Southern Cross (1843-1876)
Kaipara and Waitemata Echo (1911-1921)
New Zealander (1845-1852)
Observer (1880-1920)
Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette (1901-1945)

Happy searching!


Census Sunday: Alternative Census Records for NZ

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Electoral rolls as alternative census records.

Electoral rolls are important genealogy tools in a country like New Zealand where census records are not available. Full names, addresses and occupations are listed in the rolls and, because they are regularly published, it’s possible to track family members over time and place.

1911 election night in Cathedral Square, Christchurch.
Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19111214-4-2 

The Central Auckland Research Centre recently obtained a new CD-Rom from the NZ Society of Genealogists which has fully indexed five rolls marking major changes in male and female suffrage in this country.

1881 Electoral Roll

In the first national elections of 1853, only male British subjects aged 21 and over who owned property were eligible to vote.

About 100 Maori men were enrolled out of a total electorate of 5,849 because few Maori qualified under the property requirement - their lands were generally held communally (as iwi, hapu or whanau groups) rather than under individual freehold or leasehold title.

This property requirement also excluded recent arrivals, and transient workers who usually lived in boarding houses, tents or shacks. As these men did not possess property, they were not considered real settlers.

Voter turnout was low and candidates were often elected unopposed until the 1881 election when, after much debate, universal male suffrage (excluding aliens and prisoners) was introduced. Provided voters had lived in the colony for one year, and in their electorate for six months prior to the election, they were now entitled to vote.

In Christchurch’s Heathcote electorate, the Star reported “at the time of closing the poll some disturbance occurred on account of a number of electors having congregated in the lobby shortly after 5 o’clock; and when the hour of closing arrived and their votes had not been recorded, they manifested a somewhat forcible unwillingness to leave the building until the assistance of a constable was called in.”

Observer, 2 December 1911, page 6
from Papers Past
Observer, 31 October 1896, page 7
 from Papers Past

1893 Electoral Roll

Despite opposition to women’s suffrage, franchise was extended to include women aged 21 and over in 1893, although women were not allowed to stand as candidates or be elected as parliamentarians until 1919.

“The Hon. Dr Grace opposed the clause to enfranchise women chiefly on the grounds that their system was too complex to stand the strain attendant upon the excitement of election. He thought too highly and tenderly of women to subject them to the excitement of politics.”    ~ Wanganui Chronicle, 25 August 1893


Family Recipe Friday: Easter celebrations

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Happy Easter!

The New Zealand Woman's Weekly Cookbooks by iconic cookery editor Tui Flower were highly popular in the 1970s resulting in multiple reprints.  Because there has been a bit of a resurgence of  home cooking/baking and eating 'whole foods' lately, I thought I'd share a  recipe for hot cross buns. Perhaps you'll be inspired to make one of your own family's recipes or plan a 'retro dinner' as part of your Easter celebrations.

This recipe for hot cross buns is from pages 192 & 196 of April 1976 reprint of The New Zealand Woman's Weekly Cookbook.

Auckland Libraries holds in its collection The New Zealand Woman's Weekly magazine on microfilm in the Central Auckland Research Centre. Some of the more traditional cookbooks are real gems, and are borrowable as well.

 Easter vacation, 1932, Auckland Weekly News,
 Auckland Libraries, AWNS 19320330-42-5.
If baking is not your thing, then decorating a few eggs with your children or grandchildren for an egg hunt is a nice nod to another longstanding Easter tradition.

Early last year Joanne wrote a wonderful blog on 'Kiwi style' cooking, if you haven't read it then I suggest you click here.

Relax and enjoy your family time.


Tech Tuesday: Here & Then - today and yesterday's newspaper app

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DC Thompson Family History, the company that also provides Findmypast, has launched a mobile app called Here & Then that can provide you with articles from the British Newspapers Archive.

On your iPhone, you can view "On this day" articles, humorous stories, and historic topical stories that mirror today's news - free!

If you don't have an iPhone, you can view online. But maybe eventually it will also be available on Android one day?

 Good reading!


Workday Wednesday: Was Gran a bomb girl?


In the lead up to ANZAC Day, an intriguing selection of books related to both world wars have come on to our shelves here in the Central Auckland Research Centre.

In particular,  I've been drawn to books written about women and their roles in the war, and one such role in particular. An estimated one and a half million women took part, it was highly secretive and every day  they faced the threat of injury or even death – the job of making the ammunition.
“Bomb Girls,” subtitled, “Britain’s Secret Army: The Munitions Army of World War II” relates the real life stories of these girls and women, called up to the munitions factories during the labour shortage. The work was dirty and boring, the hours long. Because the factories were away from towns in the countryside, the girls were often forced to go miles away from home to live in hostels or lodge with strangers. But most of all, the work was dangerous. One woman recounts working on the production line with the bomb detonators, “picking up the detonator – half the size of an aspirin tablet –   with a pair of tweezers one tiny mistake, the slip of a hand, could be fatal. And if the munitions were to leave the factory incorrectly assembled, the consequences for the front line troops could be fatal, too.” Another relates working in what she called “nitrates” – soaking cotton in pans of nitric acid. “They kept a big barrel of water in the shed. This was because of the acid in case someone got badly burned. If that happened they had to throw themselves in to it to save their skin. But usually the acid just splashed you in the face and you’d have to run like bill-o to get the stuff on to your face to calm it down.”

And of course there was living with the day-to-day threat of being bombed by the Luftwaffe.  The Swynnerton, Staffordshire factory, for example, was targeted several times by the Nazis, albeit unsuccessfully.
Photograph from Bomb Girls, (c) Getty Images
Besides the fascinating stories, there are photos of the women at work. There’s Queen Elizabeth and King George at an ammunitions factory which must have given a much welcome morale boost to the workers, and there are photos of the girls and women themselves working with bombs and bullets.  Of added interest, the final chapter lists the munitions factories with detail, how long they operated, and what they produced.
If your ancestors lived in these areas, maybe you had a bomb girl in your family. Indeed, a main reason the author wrote this book was to make us aware of this crucial role in WW2 that was secret due to the nature of the work. As one worker recounts, “You never told anyone outside your family where you worked. The propaganda was all around us. “Even the Walls have Ears.” So you kept quiet.”

Bomb Girls is by Jacky Hyams and there are borrowable copies at Auckland Libraries.


Sentimental Sunday: 80 Years of Togetherness

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First of all, Happy 80th Birthday to both Mr Tony and Mrs Helen Dunn of Whangaparaoa!

At the Research Centre we often get information requests from customers and this particular one had a lovely story that accompanied it so I thought it would be nice for our readers to enjoy.

The Dunn family contacted Auckland Libraries with the hopes of locating a copy of the birth notices for Tony and his wife Helen (nee BELLINGHAM) for their upcoming birthday celebrations as they were both born in April 1934.

Their daughter Tonya shared with me the family's story about these birth notices ...
My Grandmother (Jean nee Foote Bellingham), tore the original clipping of the birth notice out from the paper after Mum (Helen Bellingham) was born, making sure that she had the entry for her daughter's birth.
Alot of years later someone (probably my Grandmother --Jean Bellingham), was going through all her old newspaper clippings, had a look through and saw that the birth notice not only included Mum (Helen), but Dad (Tony) as well!  Interesting as they were both born in different places in NZ, and on different days (my mums parents were late getting their birth notice in the paper) -- throughout the years us kids were told of the story but the original newspaper clipping has been mislaid.
Their birth announcements were published in the Monday, 9 April 1934 edition of the New Zealand Herald and indeed it was true -- they were together in the birth announcement column with just one other entry between their family names.

Helen and Tony met at teachers training college, became engaged and were married on 25 January 1958 in Auckland at the Onehunga Presbyterian Church. 

The couple on their wedding day.
It is quite a nice thought that perhaps they were destined to be together since birth.

Mr & Mrs Dunn kindly gave us permission to post their story on Kintalk and thank you also to Tonya for supplying us with the lovely family photographs.


Tech Tuesday: Keeping up with findmypast


Exciting news from ...

Findmypast has recently made changes to their search engine and project manager Paul Dunlop says they have made some improvements and along with that is a bit of a "learning curve". So, before you plan your next trip into Auckland Libraries to access findmypast you may want to watch this short video or read the article Your handy guide to findmypast’s new search on their website.
Image from findmypast news published 21 March 2014.

The video introduces the new search platform that will provide the user with a "flexible approach" to searching the collections.

As of the beginning of April, the library edition of findmypast is allowing users to start their own accounts similar to the how customers access The British Newspaper Archive website within the library -- "this means they'll be able to use our personalised services and save their own family trees." If you already have an account with findmypast, you will now be able to log in to your own profile on the library computers. For those customer who don't want to set up an account, you will still be able to continue to access records as a guest by using the search all records option on the new-look homepage.
A preview of  findmypast's new homepage.
On an entertaining note, if you are an iPhone user findmypast has introduced an app, I Once Was, according to the developers "it is a fun take on what your job might have been in the past and what you would have looked like." Simply answer two questions and upload an image of yourself, so I gave it a go. Hmm, present day librarian but historically . . . a sailor! Ships ahoy everyone.


We encourage interaction and feedback on all Auckland Libraries' blog. However, apart from that one comment below, we won't be posting any further responses that are complaints about Findmypast. 

While we understand and sympathise with people's frustrations with the current difficulties, this is not the best place for people to vent their concerns. These should more properly be directed to Findmypast's customer services team.

We have been reassured that issues are being prioritised and dealt with accordingly, and hope to see a much improved new Findmypast website in the near future.

We are very excited by the new datasets that Findmypast have released recently, and are waiting in eager anticipation in what is going to come soon.

Kind regards

Seonaid Lewis
family history librarian, Central Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries