Archive for February 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: CD-Rom collection at the Central Auckland Research Centre

No Comments »

CD-Roms form a very valuable and often under-rated part of the family history collection at the Central Auckland Research Centre. We have 6 sets of 8-drawer cabinets filled with them.

Typically they hold databases, or they might be published family histories saved as pdfs. Either way they are very searchable and hold a mine of information often not found online or in a book.

Sometimes these CD-Roms have replaced the microfiche of old.

Here are a selection of CD-Roms that have recently been added to our collection:

New Zealand

Call number                    Title

You'll note that, as with other New Zealand family history resources, these CD-Roms are also available at our other Research Centres, and also some of our community libraries.

Non-New Zealand CD-Roms form part of the international family history collection held within the Central Auckland Research Centre at Central City Library:


Call number                      Title

14 directories of Yorkshire (Leeds, Bradford, the Ridings, Hull) including these highlights: 


Call number                   Title

South Africa

Call number                   Title

An overview of the Transvaal and the Boer War, including the history of the Boers, and hundreds of photos.

As well as our catalogue, we also have a pdf index of our CD-Rom collection that is kept regularly updated. Please feel free to download the full list.


Wisdom Wednesday: Libraries, events and family history month

No Comments »

August is New Zealand Family History Month and for the 4th year in a row, Auckland Libraries will be participating in this National event.

A variety of topics will be available at various libraries around the region, and will be announced towards the end of June. One of the major topics this Family History month will be WWI and all things military due to the 100 year anniversary of the start of WWI.

In August 2013, we held 71 events at 33 library venues across the region, 19 different family history topics with over 2000 customers attending (this compares to 55 events at 25 venues, 10 different topics and 1000 people during 2012's Family History Month).

Family history/genealogy research is a hugely popular topic. The growth in popularity of family history as a hobby and research topic can be attributed largely to TV programmes such as "Who Do You Think You Are?" and adverts such as that for AncestrydotComdotAU.

Access to family history resources is becoming easier due to so many digitisation programmes worldwide, allowing genealogical information to become available on websites such as Ancestry, FindMyPast, The Genealogist, ScotlandsPeople and FamilySearch, to name but a few of the main ones.

Libraries, Museums and Archives are also putting resources online making access even easier.

However, despite the worldwide digitisation taking place, its been estimated that less than five per cent of the world's records is available online. The rest resides in Libraries, Museums, Archives and in societies such as genealogical and family history societies and historical societies.

Libraries are usually the first port of call for people starting out with family history. Libraries have many resources available on shelves, in filing cabinets, in drawers - as well as online. Best of all, libraries have librarians. Experienced staff trained in assisting with reference and research questions. While its true Librarians don’t (and can’t) know everything, they are really good at finding things out.

If libraries don't have the exact information that you need, librarians are very good at finding out who does - whether its online or maybe just knowing that another institution has the information the customer is looking for.

A quote I like from Neil Gaiman:
Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one." 
Is a good illustration of this. Reference/research librarians are excellent at refining searches, and also analysing the results.

Auckland Libraries has significiant family history resources to assist the researcher.

Four Research Centres (North, South, West and Central) which all have a variety of New Zealand family history resources in their collections; West Auckland Research Centre has a partnership with the West Auckland branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) in the Research Centre. which has some international resources; and Central Auckland Research Centre which has the largest international family history collection in a New Zealand public library.

Wellsford Library and Pukekohe Library, also have relationships with their local branches of the NZSG and hold their collections in these community libraries.

Ancestry Library EditionFindMyPast and the rest of our Family History eResources within the Digital Library is available at all 55 libraries and four Research Centres, so we always encourage customers to go to their closest community library in the first instance, and take advantage of what’s available locally.

At some point though, the customer may want to take a trip into the Central Auckland Research Centre  and come and see our specialist team.

So watch our website, our events pages, this blog and/or our Facebook page for more details . . .

Happy hunting


Amanuensis Monday - the Old Colonists' Association Register

No Comments »

The Old Colonists Association Register is an original manuscript listed on Manuscripts Online, that is held within the Sir George Grey Specialist Collections on L2 of Central City Library.

The Old Colonists Association was originally developed out of reunion gatherings for early Auckland settlers who arrived on the Duchess of Argyle and the Jane Gifford, the first two immigrant ships into Auckland.

It was extended to include early colonists of fifty years' standing and their descendants.

Members were listed in the Register between 10 October 1919 to 16 November 1934, and includes a list of 13 early vessels with their arrival dates pasted on the register's front endpaper, which covers the period 1840-1842.

The register contains a list of members of the association, including information relating to joining date, badge number, address at time of joining, when and where born, date of arrival in New Zealand, name of ship, and some miscellaneous remarks.

The inclusions of gems such as where and when born is pure gold, for those wanting to trace their ancestors back to their country of origin. And the date of arrival and ship's name answers the inevitable family history question "when did my ancestor arrive in New Zealand" for many researchers.

The Old Colonists Association Register is often cited as a source in our databases "Index Auckland" and "Auckland Area Passenger Vessels".

Searching for "Dora Close" in Index Auckland brings up six records.
The top record is her entry in the Old Colonists' Association Register.
You can open the actual image of the page by "Clicking here to view".

In this image of the Old Colonists Association Register, you can see where Dora Close was born,
amongst other wonderful pieces of information.

Conducting a successful search for a name - Dora Close in this instance - in Index Auckland gives you not only an abstract of the record, but also allows you to click and open the actual image of the page, which you are free to download and use as part of your personal research. 

Happy hunting


Treasure Chest Thursday: Back to School

No Comments »

As students and teachers are all now back in the classroom it reminded me of the many resources we have in our family history collection relating to education. There are numerous school lists and registers of graduates and students for various schools around New Zealand as well as special publications focusing on jubilees and centenary celebrations.

Karioi School, c.1908 from Heritage Images
To browse our holdings search using the Auckland Libraries classic catalogue  by selecting Call Number in the drop down list and typing 2 NZL SCH into the text box. Alternatively, you may want to do a Keyword search with the name of the school.

Open-air classroom, c.1939 from Heritage Images

If you happen to have a teacher in your family and are interested in their career details, the CD-ROM 'New Zealand Teachers Examinations and Licenses 1880-1920'  includes '... the name of those who have passed the teachers examinations and the area they are from ... and who are licensed to teach, the area of their teaching engagement and their rank in the teaching profession.'  This information is also available from the New Zealand Gazette -- there is a dedicated computer in the Research Centre for accessing these records.

Nelson (Boys) College, building completed in 1859, from Heritage Images.
The Heritage images and photography eResources page lists all of the photography related databases such as Footprints, Heritage Images and Local History Online to search for visual treasures of school buildings, pupils and teachers.


Wedding Wednesday: Mr and Mrs Johnston

No Comments »

The engagement of Mr Joseph Boyce Johnston, solicitor, to Miss Pauline Constance Doxey was announced in The NZ Observer's 'Social Sphere by Myra' column published 8 March 1913. Note the incorrect spelling of the bridegroom's surname in the newspaper clipping.

Mr and Mrs J B Johnston
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-WP314
The record for this image includes a detailed description of  the couple's wedding attire . . . . 'Mr Johnston wearing a dark coloured jacket and waistcoat, striped trousers, a white shirt with a stand-up collar and tie, flowers in the buttonhole, gloves and holding a hat; Mrs Johnston wearing a light coloured wedding gown with a train on the skirt, a long veil with flowers in her hair, holding a large bouquet.'

New Zealand Herald, 13 June 1913.

Although the entry for this wedding portrait does not refer to Mrs Robertson as the former Miss Doxey, there is no doubt of her identity  -- as there is another lovely image of her in the Schmidt collection from the same year that does provide us with her name.

Miss Doxey, 1913.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-74619
Perhaps this photo was taken to mark the occasion of their engagement?


Sports Centre Saturday: Was Your Old Man a Leaguie?

No Comments »

Auckland city will be abuzz with excitement this weekend, February 15th and 16th as Eden Park plays host to 16 teams of athletic young men in the inaugural NRL Nines rugby league tournament . Eden Park is a sellout and no doubt for leaguies who can’t make the live event, it will be a case of getting in the beer and the pizza, and settling in for a weekend in front of the telly.

While rugby union is the number one game downunder,  League in fact has quite a heritage in Auckland and was given plenty of attention back in the day.  Flicking through our heritage database, the game was well covered in publications like the Auckland Weekly News, and a large part of that is due to what is affectionately called the “spiritual home of rugby league,” Carlaw Park.  Named for James Carlaw, the head of Auckland Rugby League, the land alongside the Domain was leased by the Auckland Rugby league from the hospital board until it was bought by the ARL in 1974.  It is currently a car park and all that remains for leaguies are the memories.

Judging from the photographs in our collection, it’s easy to see why Carlaw Park is held in such affection with events such as the 1929 test between the Kiwis and Great Britain where a whopping 28,000 fans turned up to watch the Kiwis win.

So if your old man was a leaguie back in the day, whether he played the game or was one of the thousands who travelled to Carlaw Park over its history, have a browse through our heritage images. Type in the keywords “rugby league” – and enjoy! In the meantime, here are some photographs of good times from Carlaw Park from our collection.

Carlaw Park, 1921.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

New Zealand's great football public at Carlaw Park, 1924.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

A brilliant exhibition of rugby league football, 1931.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

Watching the rugby league action at Carlaw Park, 1926.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

Treasure Chest Thursday: 'Discover Your History'

No Comments »

The UK family history magazine “Your Family History” was rebranded late last year as Discovery Your History and yippee, we have a subscription to it. Whereas “Your Family History” was more dedicated to genealogy, the new publication promotes itself as “Ancestors, Heritage, Memories.” Even just flicking through a couple of issues (namely the late arriving issues of September and October) shows that there is going to be some great browsing material over the coming months.

The issues are packed with treats, such as an article on the New Zealander Archie McIndoe, who pioneered plastic surgery in World war two – the article focuses on the town of East Grimstead, West Sussex, where his patients, the ‘guinea pigs” lived. (He is held in such esteem in the town they are going to unveil a statue of him there this year.)

January 2014 issue
There’s an article on the London Underground – it turned 150 last year – and also on the subject of  travel, a lively piece on The Perils of Travel in Jane Austen’s day and how this most beloved author may have travelled –  she apparently got around England far more than most women did of the time.

Food – oh my gosh, who can possibly go past an article on food – especially an article on biscuits, with an interesting 1854 recipe for a “brown digestive” from the digestion-obsessed Victorian era. Not sure I’m game enough to try that one, even if my British ancestors may have enjoyed them.

But one of the most fascinating articles is on Port Sunlight in Merseyside, North West England  – the “industrial garden village” created by William Lever (the inventor, with his brother Darcy, of Sunlight soap). William wanted to create a beautiful village for his employees to live in, with Arts & Crafts styled houses, welfare provision, and facilities like a training college -and thus he founded the village of Port Sunlight. Last year Port Sunlight celebrated 125 years – ¾ of the properties are now privately owned, although almost all buildings are “listed” and the village is a conservation area managed by a trust set up by Unilever. Fascinating!

If you’re in the research centre, do take a look at publications like “Discover Your History” – some of these magazines are not available as borrowable copies, but they are jam packed with information about things British - and entertaining to boot.


Wedding Wednesday: Mr and Mrs Robertson

1 Comment »

'Wedding Wednesday' highlights a wedding portrait from the Heritage Images photograph collection and this week we are featuring Mr and Mrs Robertson.

Photographed standing outside the front steps of a house and they are both elegantly attired for the occasion as would be expected. Mr Robertson wearing a dark coloured jacket, striped trousers, a white waistcoat, a fob watch chain draped across a white shirt with a rounded collar and tie, holding a top hat and gloves; Mrs Robertson wearing a light coloured wedding dress with lace on the bodice, a pendant necklace, a veil and holding a gorgeous large bouquet.

Mr and Mrs Robertson, 1914.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-WP597


Workday Wednesday: Occidental Hotel lady publicans

No Comments »

Of all the interesting jobs our forebears may have taken, running a pub would surely be right up there in the interest stakes. There’s something quite romantic about walking down a street and spotting a glorious old pub, wondering what it was like back in the early days of the city, what tales there are to tell about the people who frequented the establishment, and wondering who actually ran the joint. No doubt, the romance would die a very rapid death if we were transported back in time, but it is fun to imagine.

The Occidental (aka the Ox) in Auckland’s Vulcan Lane is such a pub. It was built in 1870 by an American sailor, Edward Perkins. He was said to have married a Maori princess (although the marriage didn't survive) and every fourth of July, he would hoist the Stars and Stripes from the hotel and invite all Americans living in Auckland to dinner. In subsequent years the Ox boasted several female publicans, among them Nora Lynch (who ran the pub from 1912-1927) and Mary Frances Nation (1943-1951).

The Occidental Hotel in Vulcan Lane, Auckland
Sir George Grey Special  Collections, Auckland Libraries, 435-B5-157A 
Both women had managed pubs with their husbands, although Irish-born Nora came to the Occidental as a widow. Before that, she and her husband William had run the Clarendon on Wakefield Street, and after his death, Nora was granted a license to run the Ox. She died in 1927 on the premises; the Auckland Star of 14th October 1927  reported her death in an obituary and noted she was highly regarded by all who knew her.

Thames-born Mary Nation ran the Ox with her husband Alfred and after his death in 1942,  she took over. Mary herself had managed hotels before her marriage  - which may have been part of the attraction to Alfred. His obituary in the Auckland Star reported he came from a well known brewing family in Melbourne.
By the 1950s, Mary had had enough of pub life, and she retired to live in Mission Bay where she died in 1969.

The Ox, 1986
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1052-B10-35A
For more reading on women in the pub trade, "Wanted, a Beautiful Barmaid: Women behind the Bar in New Zealand, 1830-1976" by Susan Upton gives a comprehensive run down of this most interesting of professions and the stigma attached to working in the liquor trade – it was said, for example, a woman would never find a respectable husband if she’d worked in a bar. Indeed, as stated in the introduction, what began as a book about barmaids widened as the author discovered just how many women went from working as barmaids to actually running the pubs.

There are several borrowable copies in Auckland libraries.   


Tuesday's Tip: Learning from 'The Luminaries'

No Comments »

Eleanor Catton’s Man-Booker award-winning tale “The Luminaries” is an excellent yarn, but it unfortunately fails the Family History test. Not giving anything away, much of the plot centres on a stolen identity, and a missing birth certificate for Crosbie Wells who was born in Newington, London around 1809. Oops! This was, of course, well before the advent of civil registration, consequently Crosbie Wells would not have had a birth certificate to steal!

Auckland Libraries catalogue
If a prize-winning novelist can make such an error, it is perhaps worthwhile reminding ourselves of the timeline for vital records.

Although a form of Civil Registration for England and Wales was proposed as early as 1752/3, the system of registering births, deaths and marriages that we know today was not actually introduced until 1 July 1837. In Scotland, registration began on 1 January 1855, and in Ireland births, deaths and marriages were registered by the state from 1864, with non-Catholic marriages registered from 1845. Civil registration in Australia commenced in Tasmania in 1838, Western Australia in 1841, South Australia in 1842, Victoria in 1853, New South Wales and Queensland in 1856, and Northern Territory in 1870. In New Zealand official recording of European births and deaths began in 1848, with marriages recorded from 1854. So, remember that if you are searching for a birth, death or marriage before these dates you will need to consult the relevant church registers - where they exist!