Archive for 2017

Sentimental Sunday: An old Sanson church

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A little Anglican church in the Manawatu recently celebrated its  140th year and quite co-incidentally I happened to be down that way for the weekend. Even more interesting, from a family history point of view, is that the builders of St Thomas’s  (Main Road, Sanson) were ancestors of mine – the Ellerm brothers, Fred and Bert.

I had been inside St Thomas’s only once before, at a family funeral when I was fifteen years old, and since then had only ever driven past the church on the way to Palmy, admired its cuteness and thought, "one day, I must make the effort and have a good look around." One day turned out to be this particular weekend because it happened to be the weekend to celebrate “The 140th anniversary of the consecration of St Thomas’s church, Sanson, by the Right Reverend Octavius Hadfield, Bishop of Wellington.” On the Saturday was an open day with photographs and the chance to really inspect the building. On the Sunday was a special 10am service, followed by lunch and a birthday cake. The pews were packed.
St Thomas’s was built in 1877, and designed by architect Charles Tringer. As Don Donovan in the lovely book Country Churches of New Zealand wrote, work was due to begin April 1877, but the contractor, whose lowest bid of £588 had been accepted, failed to show up.  It was Fred and Bert, the Ellerm Brothers, who had the job done in time for Bishop Hadfield to consecrate the church in November. While the church with its mid-Victorian gothic style exterior is wonderfully charming, inside is even more so. Built of totara, the Ellerm lads used pegs and dowels in place of nails, and etched their names in a totara beam near the back. The church boasts a pipe organ and at the front, stained glass windows of Christ and the four gospel writers, donated in the 1960s.

In another co-incidence that particular weekend, the old Ellerm farm was for sale, and we went to check out the open home. The last time I’d been in this house I’d have been five-years-old, back when I'd go out to stay for the weekend, ride on the tractor with Poppa, (the farm was a Border Leicester stud farm), and play Canasta with whoever was up for a game. Inside, it took a while to figure out where everything had been, due to renovations, additions and, naturally, the house being much smaller than I remembered.
All round it was a pretty good - and quite unexpected - weekend.
For more on New Zealand's wonderful old country churches, do check out Don Donovan's book. There are borrowable copies available from Auckland Libraries.
Central Research

Your story - a work in progress

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At a recent talk here at Auckland Libraries, many of us came away buzzing over ideas on preserving ‘our’ story. What can we do right now, to get those interesting things about ourselves organised for posterity?
Our speaker, Jan Gow, discussed a computer programme called Treepad, that has a free edition, but also a  paid edition with useful add-ons such as the ability to save images. But as she said, there are other options, too. For the paper-addicted among us, the stationery sections at book stores are our happy place, from basic binders to the joy of the beautifully-covered journal. One could purchase a different journal for each decade (perhaps colour coded?), and add to it over time. If spread-sheets are so your thing, you could come up with something practical there. And you could always make up an e-book, which I’ll address in a later post. Publishing an e-book can cost you virtually nothing, and you can easily get print copies for little cost, as well. The message is that there are plenty of ways that suit you of getting your story down for that life-long work-in-progress.
A number of practical ideas came out of this.
Take copies of your photos and find out the story behind the image. Write down what you remember about it. Many of our parents, or even us, have slides (remember those?)  One could project slides and simply photograph them from the big screen, but there are devices to copy slides you could look in to. It could be something worthwhile for a family history group to invest in for members to borrow.
Identify significant occasions. Some ideas are transportation (your car-owning history over the decades is a great one!), games, pets, holidays, schools, careers, special events, and of course food. You could scan recipes from Grandma’s old recipe book to add to your collection. That gorgeous prize-winning shortbread...! You could organise your story according to these categories, or by the decades.
Remember to catalogue precious items. What is the story behind that china teacup, or painting, or your grandmother’s ornament? Photograph the item, and add the image to your work in progress with details of the story behind it. Scanning letters, cards and newspaper clippings is a good idea, too. This could be a great thing to do to get the kids (and let's face it, adults!) off social media for a spell, too.
One thing that appealed to me was to make a day of combining oral history with cataloguing. A family member recently suffered a stroke, which brings home abruptly how sad the loss of one's memory can be. When I visit next, I plan to spend time going through those tea cups, ornaments, paper items, and inherited furniture that none of the family really knows anything about, photographing them and jotting down the story behind them. Recording the conversations on my phone will help. Not only will it, I hope, be a form of therapy for them, but also fun, and for our family, a record of our own family history.
For more ideas, have a look through our catalogue here. I've used the reference 1 GEN  DOC. There is inspiration aplenty, such as the books  Keeping Family Treasures and Keeping Chronicles: Preserving History Through Memorabilia.

 Joanne - Central Research

Mad Monday: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain

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What a great title!
Mad or Bad: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain.
The book covers 25 cases, tried at a time when insanity was used as a grounds for self defence. Was

the accused mad or bad when they committed that offence? It was the new wave of  'mad doctors' aka alienists (their patients were known as aliens) who sought to define the psychological conditions that could lead to the Insanity plea.
The main part of the book are the case histories, such as the case of one Roderick McLean, who attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria. McLean was found Not Guilty on the grounds of insanity and sentenced to life imprisonment in Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. It was noted that as a teenager, he had suffered a head injury and subsequently spent time in an asylum, as he was not "right in the head." Then there's the case of Isabelle Blyth, who repeatedly claimed her nose and hands were wasting away, and who struck her elderly mother with the fireside tongs. She was recorded as insane - but sent to a general prison. In the end, four decades later, she died in an asylum.

For the family history researcher, the terminology around insanity is useful, with a glossary explaining the terms. There's also a Who's Who of notable medical and legal folk of the time, and a chapter devoted to mad and bad women. The case histories themselves, though, are packed with information about the legal and medical thought of the time.
We have borrowable copies in Auckland Libraries - check them out here. Remember, there is no cost to place a hold and request the book be sent to your local library, and you have eight days to collect it.

Research Central

Family History Fiction Friday

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Take a break from that puzzling family history research and settle down with something that does get solved!
Here are a couple of great looking reads for those who love to indulge their love of family history in the realm of fiction, too. Both of these are available from Auckland Libraries, so place a hold now. Though you'll have to get behind me in the list!

First up, is The Girl from Ballymor. It covers two time periods. First up is Kitty, a widowed mother in 1846 Ireland who is trying desperately to keep her remaining two children alive as famine ravages the land. Cut to the present, and we have Maria, arriving in Ballymor to research her ancestor, a Victorian portrait artist whose mother, the mysterious Kitty, disappeared without a trace. How do these two stories line up, and how are they resolved?  This looks a gripping and emotive read, and for those of you with that interest in Ireland, worth a look. You can check it out on the catalogue here.

Where the Sweet Bird Sings is a family history novel with a different story. Emma is still grieving  over the death of her son to a genetic disorder, a disorder she and her husband carry in their DNA. Now, her beloved grandfather has died, too, and as she helps her mother sort out his house, Emma tries to tie together the pieces of her genealogical puzzle.  Reviewers have called this book a story of love and forgiveness, touching and emotional. Plus there's a Salt Lake City setting... You can reserve your library copy here.
Joanne ~ Research Central

2017 Auckland Family History Expo - report back

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 Many thanks to the Exhibitors, speakers, volunteers and attendees who came to this year’s Expo in the Fickling Convention Centre, Three Kings.

Many many thanks to  my co-committee members Marie Hickey (Auckland Libraries), Jan Gow, Don Gallagher, Chris Bayley, David Bryant, Rex Wood, Dorothy Walker and Bryn Smith from the Genealogical Computing Group.

We had three international speakers this year, Chris Paton (Scots/Irish), Dirk Weissleder (German/European) and Helen Smith (Australian, British, DNA), as well as many local speakers.  We had about 30 lectures across the 2.5 days,  12 workshops, a Beginners' Table and 25 exhibitors: Ancestry, Auckland Council Libraries, Auckland War Memorial Museum,   Beehive Books/HOG Tours, Chinese genealogy researchers, Families in British India (FIBIS), FamilySearch, FamNet/Jazz Software, Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS), Kippenberger Research Library - National Army Museum - Waiouru, Indian genealogy / West Research Centre, My Heritage, New Zealand Fencible Society Inc, New Zealand Micrographics/Recollect,   New Zealand Military Historical Society, New Zealand Society of Genealogists Head Office  and Interest Groups: English, European, Irish, Maori, Pacific Island, Scottish; Unlock the Past/ Gould Genealogy, Wales – New Zealand Family History Society.

We had awesome financial sponsors: Auckland Council Libraries, Genealogical Computing Group, MyHeritage, Ancestry, The Genealogist and LivingDNA, who also donated prizes for our raffles. Many exhibitors also donated prizes for raffles too. Altogether we had more than 75 raffle prizes totally over $9000!

110 people attended the opening night on Friday night where we shared some yummy canapes and heard from Chris Paton on “Genealogy without borders”, and heard from LivingDNA about their offer (a mixture of video call from the UK, recorded video, and explanation from Michelle Patient), and then we had a panel discussion with our three speakers Chris, Dirk and Helen, about the future of family history.

Saturday and Sunday were very busy and we know for certain we had over 750 people attend across the two days – however, we suspect the actual number was a fair bit higher, as not everyone would have taken name labels or bags (which was our method of trying to calculate attendance). We got a lot of complete beginners again this year, so hopefully we have infected them with our enthusiasm, and they have now become addicted!

It had been posted on the Auckland Research Centres' Facebook page, as the Auckland Libraries new website was about to be launched. Please feel free to like the Research Centre’s Facebook page to be kept informed of what events and new resources we have in!

All going well, we hope to hold the next Auckland Family History Expo again next year – weekend Friday 10 to Sunday 12 August 2018. If it goes ahead, once again, we plan for it to be free, and for the exhibitors to pay minimal costs so it will be affordable for everyone to attend.

Watch this space!

Happy hunting


Auckland Family History Expo 2017

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Auckland Libraries and the Genealogical Computing Group are hosting the Auckland Family History Expo again from 5pm, Friday 11 August through till 6pm Sunday 13 August at the Fickling Convention Centre at Three Kings.

Dirk Weissleder
Chris Paton

This year, our international
guest speakers are Chris Paton (Scottish/Irish),
Dirk Weissleder (German/European) and Helen Smith (Australia/British).

Helen Smith

Friday night's programme

Friday 5pm-6pm: Reception. Mix and mingle with tea, coffee, beverages and canapés. Seats confirmed on receipt of payment.
Submit bookings by email with “Family History Expo welcome event” in subject line, including names of attendees to
6pm-7pm: Welcome and opening address followed by: Chris Paton, Genealogy without borders.
7pm-7.30pm: Living DNA: High definition Ancestral DNA testing (live webinar from the UK).
7.30pm-8.30pm: Chris Paton, Dirk Weissleder and Helen Smith, panel discussion and Q&A session: The future of family history.

Satuday and Sunday are free. We have over over 40 seminars and workshops and more than 24 family history exhibitors including:
  • Ancestry
  • Auckland Council Libraries
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Beehive Books/HOG Tours 
  • Chinese genealogy researchers 
  • Families in British India (FIBIS) 
  • FamilySearch 
  • FamNet/Jazz Software 
  • Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS),
  • Kippenberger Research Library - National Army Museum - Waiouru 
  • Indian genealogy / West Research Centre
  • My Heritage 
  • New Zealand Fencible Society Inc
  • New Zealand Micrographics/Recollect 
  • New Zealand Military Historical Society,
  • New Zealand Society of Genealogists Head Office and Interest Groups:
    English, European, Irish, Maori, Pacific Island, Scottish; 
  • Unlock the Past/Gould Genealogy
  • Wales – New Zealand Family History Society.

Download a .pdf of the full programme here


Passenger List Redux

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 Auckland wharf in the 1950s.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1269-B112-26'
Our Family History Expo is only weeks away with much planning and organising going in to it, to make it a truly great weekend for you all. Here's the link to all the details at the Auckland Libraries website. In the meantime, we're re-posting a great blog from a while back on searching passenger lists.
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, 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. You can also look at Find My Past, available free to use at any of our 55 Auckland City Libraries on our digital library.

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 Yesteryears and New Zealand Bound.
And one 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!
~ Janelle

Researching your Indian ancestors

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Smita Biswas, Team Leader at the West Auckland Research Centre, recently contributed this article to genealogist Dick Eastman's blog. You can find the original article on the blog here.

The culture of India has been shaped not only by its long history, unique geography and diverse demography but also by its ancient heritages. Regarded by some historians as the oldest living civilization of Earth, the Indian tradition dates back to 8,000 BC and has a continuous recorded history for over 2,500 years. But due to the influence of Western culture and migration of Indians to foreign shores, the rich culture, values, and family history of India are disappearing.
There is a lack of awareness in the migrant Indian community in New Zealand about the importance of documenting their family history. Most Indian family history has been traditionally maintained only within families and has been often passed down from generation to generation, with children hearing their stories from their "elders" from early childhood.

Photo donated by Sheth Family, Lalbhai Bhogilal Lallubhai Sheth family photo, 1932, Shahibag, Ahmedabad, India
Lack of time and interest of the younger generations, along with migrations to the cities, other parts of India and overseas meant that we lost touch with our relatives and elders. This meant that the family histories were not recorded officially, and there is a huge danger of all this rich history of our Indian ancestors being totally lost as the ancestors passed away.
The official registration of births and deaths did not start in India until the 1850s, and that, too, only in urban areas of India. In the rest of India, especially rural areas, very few official records of births, deaths, or marriages were kept; as a result, none are available today for researching. Most of the Indian ancestors were cremated, so no physical burial sites are available to go back to. Therefore, the reliance is on the people’s memories. (8)
Basic steps to get started
It can very daunting to get started with your family history research, especially if you are a second or third generation person of Indian origin. Often your parents or grandparents who immigrated were so busy just settling in a new country and being part of a new culture that they did not have time or inclination to pass on any of their ancestral details of their native country to their children or grandchildren.
So just start with what you know; your immediate family often holds the key to starting your family history research. Record the memories of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins as you start exploring your family tree online.
Ask each relative about specific individuals. Gather details surrounding their lives, including nicknames, places they lived, vital information (including birth, marriage, and death dates), occupations, and other important clues.
Tips to get more clues about your Indian family roots
Once you have gathered the basic ancestral information from your immediate family as suggested above, the next step is to effectively search the records available in the country of your ancestors’ origin. For that, it is necessary to define more precisely where your family or ancestors came from.
Due to lack of border control in the old days, people migrated to Asian countries without any restrictions to spread religion, trade with merchants, explore, and conquer.
•For example, Siddis are an ethnic group who migrated to India from Abyssinia. The descendants of this community live in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and in the Hyderabad city.
•Parsees (Iranians) migrated to India due to religious persecution in Persia and settled mainly in Gujarat and Maharashtra, which are two western states in India.
•In 68 AD Jews from Europe and Baghdad settled in the Malabar, Mumbai (Bombay), and Kolkata (Calcutta) regions of India. While these migrants have assimilated with the local Indian population, their surnames remain quite different from other Indian surnames. (8)
Indian Surnames play an important role
Indian surnames play an important role because they can be linked to specific regions, clans or tribes, or a profession of their ancestors. They can also give an indication about a family’s religion, i.e whether they are Hindu, Islamic or Christian.
For example, Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP), is an ethno-religious clan of South Asia. It is part of the broader Kayastha community. Traditionally, the CKPs have been granted the upper caste status, which allowed them to study the Vedas and perform religious rites along with Brahmins.
The CKPs are today concentrated primarily in western Maharashtra, southern Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh (Indore region). They played an important role in the establishment and administration of the Maratha Empire.
Patel is a trade name and the previous caste of landowners, farmers, and village leaders. The “Patel” of a village in the mid-1500-1900 state of Gujarat would be a member of the village committee who would help represent the whole village’s views to the local council and take the lead in resolving problems and implementing ideas. They would do this by working closely alongside the village pandit and other members of the “Brahmin” Community mainly found in Gujarat, India, but also across all parts of India and Pakistan.
Agrawal (Agarwal, Agrawala, Agarwala, Aggarwal) is a community found throughout northern India, including in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. Other related communities include Maheshwari, Khandelwal, and Oswal.
Surnames like Mukherji, Bose, Ghosh, Banerjee are quite unique to Hindu Bengalis from West Bengal or Bangladesh.
Singh/ˈsɪŋ is a title, middle name or surname which originated in India. Derived from the Sanskrit word for lion, it was originally used as a title by the warriors in India. It was later adopted by several castes and communities, including the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh guru, mandated it for all the baptized males. As a surname or a middle name, it is now found throughout the Indian subcontinent and among the Indian diaspora, cutting across communities and religious groups.
Khan or Hassan surnames will indicate they follow the Islamic religion while surnames Fernandes and Pinto will indicate they are Christians from Goa, a state in Western India which was under the Portuguese rule for a long time. (9)
Effects of the partition of India
The partition of India plays a very important role in Indian family history. At the end of 350 years of British rule in 1947, the partition of India resulted in riots, looting, murders, and a flood of 15 million refugees crossing the Northern and Eastern states of India to be part of newly formed India or Pakistan. This resulted in the creation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan from undivided India on the basis of religion.
You should consider asking the following questions:
•If your ancestors were born in the old Indian territories which are now in Pakistan, do you know which states they came from?
Here oral family history plays an important role. Normally, one can trace only a few generations of history within India and Pakistan as practically all records were lost during the migration at the time of partition.
•Were they born in East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh in1972)?
•Did they opt to migrate to Pakistan from India during the partition?
•Did they migrate from East Pakistan to West Pakistan for employment and then proceed to Britain?
•Have they chosen to migrate directly to Kenya or African countries from India or Pakistan?
•Were they indentured labourers from Tamil Nadu (previously Madras Presidency, later Madras State) who migrated for work under British Rule to Sri Lanka (Ceylon)? (8)
Resources for ancestors from India
Very few official resources such as birth, marriage, or death records are available for ancestors who were born in India, even as late as the 1950s, particularly those who were born in rural areas. Hence the reliance on people’ memories. The best sources are the personal sources listed below.
Personal resources for family history research
•Civil registration records such as birth certificate, marriage certificate & death certificate
•Passports – expired/old Indian passports are very useful as the last page contains the name of the person’s father and mother and a last known address. Also it may be the only official document containing the date and place of birth.
•Ration card – issued by Indian Government mainly for buying subsidized basic food, but also an important proof of identity in absence of any other documents like passport and birth certificates
•Grimitiya pass – These records comprise over 60,000 individual passes issued to Indians who came to Fiji as indentured labourers.
•School & university, work records – often the only official document available in place of birth certificates
•Photographs and family albums
•Personal diaries, letters, and business papers
Official resources in India
National archives: In 1891 (during the British period), the National Archives of India was established as the Imperial Record Department in Calcutta. Since 1947, the National Archives of India has established four regional offices at Bhopal, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar and Pondicherry. Some old records may be found there. However, they are unlikely to have too many records of native Indians, especially from rural India.
Passport records are kept at the Regional Passport Office of each State in India.
Births and deaths in India are normally registered with the local Municipality Office, and the registers passed to the District Registrar’s Office. But these records are very current, so you are unlikely to find any information for your Indian ancestors born before the 1960s. There are better records for British ancestors who were born in India and who lived and died in India.
Wills are normally kept with the family of the person concerned, but some may also be found at the local Register Office.
A good website for Goan Indians with Portuguese ancestors is
Muslim marriages (Nikka Nama) are normally recorded in the local mosque registers, but not all the records have survived or have been actively conserved.
If the marriage was conducted legally in the Register Office, the relevant records are held at the local Marriage Registration Office. Again, these are very contemporary records as marriage registration is not compulsory in India. Some temples in India keep Hindu marriage registers, but they are not complete records.
Land records: The basic system of land records in India was developed during the British rule. These records are being slowly computerised to be made available online. Land records are of great importance to genealogical research in locating ancestors and tracing their migrations.
The principal old land records could be in one of the following forms:
•Village map: a pictorial form showing the village and field boundaries
•Field Book of khasra is an index to the map in which changes in the field boundaries, their area, particulars of tenure-holders methods of irrigation, cropped area, and other uses of land are shown
•Records of rights, also known as khatouni, is the record of the names and classes of tenure of all occupants of land.
Families and pedigrees are recorded in the land records, some dating back 110 generations or up to 2200 BC. For example, some old Indian land records from Punjab and Moga Land Ownership Pedigrees are available. This collection includes records from 1887 to 1958. These records are written in Urdu and in Punjabi. The records include land ownership pedigrees (Shajjra Nasb) kept by the state at the district level. These pedigrees show familial relationships of individual’s land ownership as it was passed from father to son. Records appear to be written in Urdu script, which is read from right to left.
You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the FamilySearch page for India, Punjab, Moga Land Ownership Pedigrees, 1887-1958.
Land ownership pedigrees usually contain the following information:
•Given and surname of top ancestor
•Given and surnames of children
•Type of land transaction
•History of the village
•How the subdivisions were named
•Record keeper’s name
•Revenue collector’s name
•Date document signed
•Name of the street, the village, district, and subdivision
To begin your search, it would be helpful to know the following information: Name of ancestor, approximate year and place of residence , district, etc. (8)
Online Land Records
The Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) is one of the earliest initiatives of e-Governance in India, at the grass-roots level. The focus of the entire operation has always been to employ state of the art Information Technology (IT) to galvanise and transform the existing land record system of the country.
This web-enabled service would aim at:
•Ensuring efficient, accurate, transparent delivery mechanism and conflict resolution in ownership
•Providing electronic record of rights (ROR) to land owners at nominal rates
•Information empowerment of land owners
•Low cost and easily reproducible data for reliable and durable preservation
•Value addition and modernisation in land administration
•Integration with other data sets towards comprehensive LIS (8)
The Indian States which have the online land record system include:
•Rajasthan: Apna Khata(External website that opens in a new window)
•Chhattisgarh: Bhuiyan(File referring to external site opens in a new window)
•Haryana: Jamabandi(File referring to external site opens in a new window)
•Himachal Pradesh: HimBhoomi(External website that opens in a new window)
•Karnataka: Bhoomi(External website that opens in a new window)
•Kerala(External website that opens in a new window)
•Madhya Pradesh(External website that opens in a new window)
•Odisha: Bhulekh(External website that opens in a new window)
•Uttar Pradesh(External website that opens in a new window)
•Uttarakhand: Dev Bhoomi(External website that opens in a new window)
•West Bengal: Banglar Bhumi (8)
Challenges in finding details of Hindu ancestors
A major problem for genealogists is the Hindu custom of either burning the body, or (preferably) consigning it to the Ganges river. Thus, finding records is a critical problem.
The earliest records, written on palm leaves, have been lost to the elements, but there are sites across India where such records can still be found, and Haridwar remains the most comprehensive and well-preserved repository.
Some Hindu pilgrimage records have been digitised and are available from the website. However, this captures only a very small percentage of India’s large population .(1)
For Sikh family ancestors is a good website.
Records for Islamic or Christian Indian ancestors
Civil authorities did not begin registering vital statistics until 1872. Indian church and parish records are the best source for family information before that date for births , deaths and marriages. Some well digitised church records are available on the website. People can also contact the church for records and can get guided to the burial site or cemeteries to cross check their ancestor’s records. A good website for Goan Indians with Portuguese ancestors is also has some records of Muslim pilgrims who visited certain pilgrimage centres in Northern India where rituals are performed. Similarly, marriage records of Islamic marriages (civil registration) record or Kadi have been located at Mosques, homes and “offices” of Muslim family bards or the Kazi, who is the marriage registrar and judge. It establishes individual identity and linkage back two generations. (1)
Resources for Indian ancestors who migrated to US or UK and have good immigration records and some family trees for Indians who migrated to the US or UK.
Resources for Indian ancestors who migrated to Africa
The best history on Indians ancestors who migrated to South Africa is on the Geni website. (12)
Chetty (2003) compiled an incredible web site for anyone looking for information on their Indian Ancestry in South Africa with downloadable passenger lists in Excel format. Approximately 152,184 indentured Indians arrived under the scheme of indenture, making a total of 384 trips. The first ship, the Truro, arrived on 16 November 1860 and the last ship, the Umlazi, arrived on 11 July 1911, marking the end of the notorious system of indenture. The ports of Madras and Calcutta in India, served as the points of embarkation. These Indian Shipping Lists, complete in 91 volumes, provide the most extensive and important data relating to any immigrant community in Southern Africa. They provide information on the area indentured Indians came from; their caste, employers and places of employment, indenture number, name, father’s name, age and sex are given with each entry.(14) also have a very special section on South Africa, KwaZulu Natal Indian Birth Returns (FamilySearch Historical Records). This collection includes birth returns of Indian South Africans from the papers of the Protector of Indian Immigration at the KwaZulu-Natal Archives from 1894-1954. Indian South Africans are people from the country of India living in South Africa, particularly in and around the city of Durban.(13)
Resources for Indian ancestors who migrated to Fiji
The National Archives in Suva holds the Emigration Pass of the Girmitiyas. These records are organised in alphabetical order. If you cannot find the name, it is possible that the person had changed his/her name in Fiji, as many did at the time. You can narrow the search down to the ship in which he/she reached Fiji. Further, you can search through the passes; if you know his/her father’s name and the name of the villa, Indian Emigration Passes to Fiji for the period 1879 to 1916 may help.
There are two additional resources for Fiji worth looking at:
Australian National Library also holds microfilm copies of Indian Emigration Passes to Fiji for the period 1879 to 1916.
Central Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, have BDMs (births, deaths and marriages certificates for Fiji Indians from 1895 onwards) – Search call number 3 FIJ
These records are very good as they give the ancestor’s place of birth in India and the name of their parents (6)
•Tears in paradise: unveiled: suffering and struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879 – 2004
 / Rajendra Prasad
•Tracing your British Indian ancestors: a guide for family historians / Emma Jolly
•Before India: exploring your ancestry with DNA / David G. Mahals
•The tears of the Rajas: mutiny, money and marriage in India 1805-1905 / Ferdinand Mount
•Tracing your service women ancestors: a guide for family historians / Mary Ingham
•The last crusade: the epic voyages of Vasco da Gama / Nigel Cliff
•Leaving India: my family’s journey from five villages to five continents / Minal Hajratwala
•List of the officers of the Bengal Army, 1758-1834 / alphabetically arranged and annotated with biographical and genealogical notices
Websites and online resources
The best site is the Indian genealogy section on the Family Search Wiki from the website.
Below is a list of all resources for India that are available on website:
Map of Hindu Pilgrimage Sites
Dictionary of Indian Biography
Indian Cemeteries
Cemeteries in South Asia
The Indiaman Magazine
Families in British India Society
India Office catalogues of private papers, prints etc.
Hindu Pilgrimage records
Maithil Brahmin genealogical records
BYU Research Resources for India (1)
Other websites : The Genealogy Website of Goa:
Case history: Tracing the Sheth Family Lineage to present day
This history was traced and researched by Shailesh Sheth, who used family records, oral histories and actual records from copies of Farmans (royal order) issued by the Mughal Kings like Shahjahan and Aurangzeb to Sheth Shantidas. They bestowed a Jain Temple, shrines of Palitana, Girnar and Mount Abu to Sheth Shantidas. All original Farmans are stored in the Treasury of a Trust “Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi” in Ahmedabad, India.
Here are two copies of Farmans (royal order) issued by the Mughal Kings to Sheth Shantidas.
One is dated 03/07/1648 (by Shahjahan) and other 12/03/1660 (by Aurangzeb), bestowing a Jain Temple, shrines of Palitana, Girnar and Mount Abu to Sheth Shantidas.

 All original Farmans are stored in the Treasury of a Trust “Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi” in Ahmedabad, India.
The executive order by which the Sheth family received saliana (share of octroi tax) flows from subsequent actions of which no originals are traceable. But the Sheth family did get the amount till out 20 years ago.
Copyright: Sheth family
1. “India Genealogy.” India Genealogy – FamilySearch Wiki. viewed on 23/04/2017 from
2. 7382
3. “Families in British India Society 1600 to 1947.” Families in British India Society 1600 to 1947 Genealogy – FamilySearch Wiki. Viewed on 01 May 2017 from
4. “Anglo Indian Family Trees and their links to British India”. Russel Fonceca , Australia, viewed on 29/04/2017 from
5. ” Indian Emigration Passes to Fiji 1879-1916 | National Library of Australia. Viewed on 01 May 2017 from
6. Gorman, E : A Land of My Own: A Study on Indian Families in the Fiji Islands;Academia, viewed on 20/04/2017 from
7. “Fiji Genealogy.” Fiji Genealogy – FamilySearch Wiki. viewed on 23/04/2017 from
8. Husainy, A. “ Tracing your Asian roots on the Indian subcontinent” viewed on 30/04/2017 from
9. “Category:Indian Family Names.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Apr. 2017. Viewed on 01 May 2017 from
10. “ : The Genealogy Website of Goa”. Viewed on 24/04/2017 from
11. “SikiWiki :Encyclomedia of the Sikhs”. Viewed on 26/04/2017 from
12. “South Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Indian Birth Returns, 1894-1954.” FamilySearch. : accessed 2017. from,_KwaZulu_Natal_Indian_Birth_Returns_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)
13. “South African Settlers – Indian”(2017). Geni: accessed 2017 from
14. Chetty, K(2003). “Ships lists 1860-1911”. University of Durban-Westville Documentation Centre. Accessed 4/05/2017 from

Those Places Thursday: The Wesleyan Native Institution

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The past few months have seen a campaign to recognise the importance of the name Wesley to the Puketapapa (Mt Roskill, Auckland) area. Although Wesley isn't an official name for that part of the Auckland isthmus, it is the name that has been given to the area for decades. There is both Wesley Primary and Wesley Intermediate schools, and the name is held in great affection.  The campaign came about when developers of a new town at Paerata, north of Pukekohe, applied to the NZ Geographic Board to use the name Wesley, and to dis-establish it from the Mt Roskill area. But as schools, the historical society, and the local board backed petitions to save the name, the developers acknowledged the affection shown towards 'Wesley', subsequently withdrew their application, and the Intermediate school held a mufti day in celebration.
So how did the name Wesley come to find a home in Mt Roskill?
It was all down to the Wesleyan Native Institution, established in the Three Kings area in the 19th century. The school occupied a significant piece of land alongside Three Kings, following a shift from its original Grafton location. The school aimed to be self-sufficient with farming, along with teaching and training of boys and girls, not only in ministry work but with a wide range of skills.  But in 1923, the school moved. Concern had been raised over Auckland's encroaching industry, meaning Three Kings was no longer a suitable location with it's farming ethic. A new school, Wesley College, was established at Paerata which still exists today. For a well researched background, the 2015 Three Kings Heritage Study, Te Tatua a Riukiuta is worth reading.

 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A227'

The plaque below is to mark the foundation stone of Wesley College. It was laid on 6 April 1940 in McCulloch Avenue and reads:
This marks the site of the Three Kings Wesleyan Native Institution Foundation Stone laid by the Governor Sir George Grey, April 6, 1848. Transferred to Wesley College, Paerata, August 28 1922.

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-2671-30'

If you had a methodist relative in your past, there are plenty of resources at Auckland Libraries for you to do a little digging. One gem is the New Zealand Methodist Centenary Index, published in 1922, which lists Methodist ministers and preachers on "trial" - a history of where these folk served and what years. There is also a list of those who were at the Three Kings College and an alphabetical list of deceased ministers. Below is an example of the information you may find:
Call Number 2 NZL OCC in the Family History collection, Central Research Centre
And for a little bit further afield, check out Marie's blog post a few years back on the Wesleyan Methodist Historic Roll.

Central Research.

Happy Mother's Day, New Zealand

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Happy Mothers Day, here in New Zealand!
In honour of mums everywhere - and not just the human ones! - here is a selection of photos from Auckland Libraries Heritage Images.

From the early 1900s, this shows a group of pupils from central Auckland's Beresford Street Public School with their dolls (their babies!) The children were taking part in the school concert at the Auckland Opera House.

 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19001109-8-2'

"Mothercraft" (later changed to 'parenting') classes were offered by the Plunket Society, as the 1935 photograph below shows. Skills were often taught to girls at high schools, and later the classes extended to the new fathers. They were a feature of Plunket's Karitane Hospitals, set up to care for new mothers, and  those babies needing extra help to thrive. 

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries AWNS-19350807-41-4 ' 

Different styles of carrying your baby. This photo from 1911 contrasts the 'old' and the 'new' style with Maori mothers.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19110413-14-3

The description of this photograph doesn't say that these three children are actually those of the named Mrs Johnston, but if they are, her cute son looks a bit of a hard case! From 1911.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-64695'

And finally, some animal world, mumsy cuteness!

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries AWNS-19351030-57-1

 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19320504-44-4

Central Research.

Wellington histories

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A couple of new books appeared on display this week, and for those of you with an interest in the Wellington area, you might like to take a look.

First up is A History of Tawa by Bruce Murray, published in 2014 by the Tawa Historical Society.
It follows the story of  the suburb decade by decade, and is filled with illustrations from maps and photographs charting Tawa (or Tawa  Flat as it was known earlier) from Maori, early European settlement, the coming of rail and subdivision, through to the present. A big event for the growing suburb was the extension of the Wellington rail line known as the Tawa Deviation. It was completed in 1935 to provide access from Wellington further north.
The photograph below is from our Heritage Images, and shows the line as it neared completion. Two tunnels made up half the deviation, and the NZ Government Public Works Department took on the project, beginning around 1928. Public Works camps were constructed to house around 300 men, although numbers shrank during the depression as the government made job cuts.
 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries AWNS-19350724-52-1
A second book is Half A World Away: Eastbourne in Wartime 1899-1928 by Julia Stuart. As the title suggests, it covers war time, and has some informative appendices: service records of Eastbourne residents and people with links to the area, deaths in the First World War, and folk mentioned in the book but with no direct link to Eastbourne.
In 1900, the eastern bays of Wellington Harbour were a mix of baches, small settlements, and day trippers would swarm there on weekends and public holidays.
From our Heritage Images, the photo below is from the Auckland Weekly News in 1913: the caption reads, "A suburb running its own municipal ferries: Eastbourne, on the Eastern side of Wellington Harbour."
 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19131030-41-2 '
And from April 1933, comes a glorious page of photos from an Easter Gala held to raise funds for the East Harbour Distress Fund to aid the unemployed. The papers ran progress reports on the lead up to the event, and according to the Evening Post, "Every care is being taken by the organiser and his staff to see that expenses are kept down to the minimum. The money handled is subject to Government audit, and before any item of expenditure is incurred it is very carefully scrutinized."
Even in the weeks beforehand, there were fundraising events from dances, bridge parties, ping-pong tournaments, garden parties, and sports events. On the weekend itself, Wellingtonians converged in their thousands via ferry boats and buses to join in, with donkey rides for the children, fancy dress and even a decorated bike contest. Maybe one of your Wellington relatives is in the pic below!

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19330419-35-1 

Convict Tattoos: Marked Men and Women of Australia

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"For a country devoid of possessions, deprived of family, stripped of identity and sentenced to hard labour in an unfamiliar land, a tattoo provided a link with what had been lost."
Tattoos were once the mark of crims and the navy, and indeed it is interesting to learn that in colonial Australia, convicts viewed their tattoos as a kind of link to their old world.
A new book to come into Auckland Libraries is this intriguing background on the tattoos of convicts in Australia - Convict Tattoos by Simon Barnard.
Many convicts came from the UK tattooed, and these were recorded as they arrived in Australia, as a way of identifying the individual.
Names and dates were popular, but also initials, symbolic images of religious belief and patriotism, along with good old decoration. Both men and women were tattooed and one of the most popular images was the anchor, often used to signify hope, and, with the added cross, hope in salvation.  Convict Sydney Harris had the word 'hope', an anchor, his initials, and the year of his conviction tattooed.
Indeed, those who didn't possess tattoos posed more of a challenge for those in authority, who would list physical details in the register of convicts in the Black Books.
One prisoner, Isaac Comer, had his tattoos written about in The Mercury (Hobart) July 5 1871 as follows:
"Yesterday a prisoner named Isaac Comer, who has a string of convictions against his name quite appalling, but who after a long prison life has been at liberty since 1857, has his body nearly covered with marks indelibly tatooed into the skin. The following almost incredible list of such marks should, we imagine, leave no doubt as to his identity should he at any future time be required; - on his right arm - man smoking a pistol; SC; woman with glass; Jane Bell; woman and man smoking a pipe (etc)
It is possible, according to the author, that once in the colonies, because of the surveillance on the convicts via tattoo, getting tattooed wasn't as popular as it was back home.
This is a fascinating and easy read, and puts a whole new perspective on the significance of tattoos in the past. There are heaps of images, although the images of pieces of tattooed skin may, for the squeamish of us, be best skipped over - especially those pieces not attached to an actual body(!)
Note that there are borrowable copies within Auckland Libraries.
Central Research

Not Just Auckland

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Over the years when I've attended conferences and family history fairs, I've been interested to hear how many people associate Auckland Libraries with just having material relating to Auckland, and nowhere else.
We have a range of material in all of our collections that covers other parts of New Zealand, as well as overseas, and by not considering what is on offer, you may miss out on some treasure we have that other libraries do not.

For instance, with regard to Otago we have a series of books that were published in the 1980s covering events in Otago 1901-35 titled Otago Cavalcade … The series is divided into approximately five-year sections and are filled with photographs from the Otago Witness and Otago Daily Times newspapers.  While the reproduction of photographs is not always wonderful, they are still worth looking at as they include buildings no longer in existence among other things. The war years naturally cover events occurring at home and overseas.  Other events included that are not Otago-specific, are the funeral of King George V, the Boer War, Napier earthquake, and the return of Scott’s Terra Nova to New Zealand.  However, the majority of images are relevant to Otago, such as schools, churches, celebrations, buildings and homes of note, floods in the region, delegates at conferences, to day-to-day life.
Apart from photographs, there's a short piece on events throughout the year followed by a list of principal events.  Each year is covered individually and photographs are separated into annual divisions accordingly.

A great find for those interested in Otago. Check out the catalogue for a complete list of our holdings of the Otago Cavalcade - the good news is there are borrowable copies so you can take home an issue, and have a good read.
Central Research Centre

What I did on my holidays – stories to consider for future generations

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We’re at that time of year when the children have returned to school and no doubt have been subjected by their teachers to write a story about what they did on their holidays, just as we were at their age.

This got me thinking about the type of holidays I had as a child and how we should write/share these memories with the younger generation.  Yes, they may think how old fashioned we were and roll their eyes at yet another story but if we write the memories down they will be there for the future when they appreciate what we have to share.  Here are some of my memories to give you some ideas.

A day at the beach involved taking some old bath towels (we didn’t have beach towels until later), perhaps a picnic lunch (remember the sand in your sandwiches?), some sunscreen that probably did no good at all - the preferred brand being Coppertone and the toys of the day.  By toys I mean polysterene kickboards and later a longer “surfboard”, perhaps plastic flippers and goggles, frisbee, metal bucket and spade later made of plastic and maybe a ball – some kids had inflatable beach balls.

Our beach-wear would usually be cotton tops and shorts with bare feet or jandals perhaps sandals for the adults.  Swimming togs/costume in the late 1950s-1960s may have been something of cotton and later thickish bri-nylon (probably not too far removed from the knitted costumes of the 1920s for thickness); which by the 1970s became skimpy bikinis or budgie smugglers for men.  I remember having to wear a sunhat and women usually also wore a rubber swimming cap into the water to keep their hair dry.  These were rather tight and it often hurt when you tried to get your hair forced under this ugly headpiece – some had a lighter rubber cap similar to what professional swimmers use today.

Trips to the farm would involve old clothing and gumboots.  I remember being taught to milk by hand but later a machine came into use.  Going around on the back of the tractor to feed hay to the cows; making mash to feed the hens and collecting the eggs and “helping” to bring the cows in for milking.  I say “helping” as I’m sure that when we were quite young we were more of a hindrance than a help.

Staying with relatives often involved a long car journey as cars travelled more slowly and roads were not what they are today; many being unsealed and windy.  You would fill the car up with comics and books – for a while there were small comics you could buy at the petrol station and it wouldn’t be a real trip unless you got caught with a farmer moving his flock of sheep or herd of cattle.  Then you would get stuck behind a caravan (they were towed by cars) that was either plodding down the road or being driven so fast that the caravan was swaying all over the road.

Auckland Libraries have a wide range of books full of illustrations of clothing, past-times, scenes (don’t forget that our surroundings have changed as well), household implements etc and of course, there is the internet as well – maybe there are clips of old favourite TV programmes just warn the children that there is nothing wrong with the computer, the world was black and white in the “olden days”.  Something fun you could try is putting together a zine (like a mini magazine of just a few pages) and perhaps the children could help you.


Captain Swing and his riots in 1830s England

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If you had an ancestor who was working on the land in the 1830s in England there is a chance that they were involved in the Swing Riots.  These started in the Elham Valley in Kent and quickly spread amongst the rural workers of the south and East Anglia.  The unrest was caused by a number of reasons – machinery taking jobs from men, farmers offering lower wages, payment of tithes to the Church of England whether or not you were a member.  Threatening letters were sent to those who were considered in a position to resolve the situation signed by “Captain Swing” who was fictitious.  If the warning was ignored it was followed by destruction of threshing machines, their engines, attacks on workhouses and tithe barns and later turned to burning hay ricks and other arsonist attacks.

If caught, the rioters faced imprisonment, transportation or execution.  Of the 2000 (approx.) rioters who were caught 252 were sentenced to death (only 19 were hanged), 644 imprisoned and 481 transported.

There is a brief article on-line about the riots at

In the 1990s Jill Chambers wrote a series of books about the Swing Riots looking at individual counties and how the riots effected the population of that particular county etc.  These books are well researched including information on all aspects of the “riots” for instance each person charged is listed with the charge, age, sentence and 1841 census transcription (if found).  Events in the county are diarised, trial transcripts, claims for rewards and so it goes on.

Auckland Libraries holds Jill’s books for Kent, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Hampshire as well as Michael Holland’s book Swing Unmasked: the agricultural riots of 1830 to 1832 and their wider implications which is available in print (reference copy and one borrowable copy) and CD.

You may find a family member who was involved in this important event in English history but even if they were not caught they may have participated and these books give you an insight into life for rural workers at a tumultuous time in history.

Central Research Centre