Archive for August 2014

Workday Wednesday: Engineers

No Comments »

Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries, 1-W1814 
Was your ancestor an engineer in NZ? If so, here are some sources of possible interest for you to explore. 

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (known to its friends as IPENZ) operates an excellent website on NZ's engineering heritage. It includes a small database of biographies of significant engineers.

If you know the engineering field your ancestor was involved in, some of the works in the 'recommended reads' section may also prove of value as background material.

Auckland Libraries has both reference and loan copies available of Early New Zealand engineers by F.W. Furkert; revised and edited by W.L. Newnham. This work is a collection of alphabetically arranged mini-biographies of engineers who were born prior to 1866.

Along with some other sources on engineers, the names from Furkert's book have been indexed into the New Zealand Card Index; for example:

The New Zealand Card Index was closed in 1996 when Index Auckland started. As the name implies, this index has a strong emphasis on Auckland, but also contains references to places and people from further afield; it is worth checking for engineer ancestors even if they are not Aucklanders.

Among the items indexed are obituaries and other biographical mentions of engineers appearing in selected issues of the Proceedings of the Institution of Professional Engineers 1938-1952 and the journal New Zealand Engineering, 1946-1972 (indexing not yet complete).

Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Libraries, 7-A15208
If your ancestor was already a qualified engineer when they migrated to NZ, or spent part of their working lives in the UK, then they may have joined one of the professional engineering societies in the UK. Some membership records of these are now available as searchable databases on

The contents vary, but some have considerable detail, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers’ collection of applications to join the society 1820-1930. Entries often include date of birth, nationality, and summary of education and career, sometimes with supporting correspondence and certificates. Engineers are a highly mobile occupational group, so such information might well include details of service all over the world.


Wedding Wednesday: Post Marriage

No Comments »

Newspaper masthead from Papers Past.

Family events in the news . . .

As we all know not all weddings lead to marriages with the 'happily ever after' outcome, and for some couples, parting ways through divorce is a preferred ending.

Back in the day when divorces were processed in public courts rather than family court, the cases especially the more 'salacious' ones tended to be published on 'page 5' of the tabloid newspaper, New Zealand Truth. A common reason for divorce was adultery, but also included desertion and living apart for more than seven years.

NZ Truth, 9 January 1930.

We have a 20 year period from 1946 to 1966 of divorce information extracted from the NZ Truth newspaper on microfiche in the Central Auckland Research Centre. So, if you find that your family history research leads you to searching for a divorce file, you may want to see if it was written up in the tabloids.


Friday's Faces from the Past: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Karen Kalopulu Family History Lock-in

No Comments »

This year we are celebrating a decade of lock-ins from when the idea first came to the then Family History Librarian, Karen Kalopulu.

Back in 2004 Karen Kalopulu proposed the idea to library management saying that, although the ‘concept is new to libraries in New Zealand’ there are ‘many libraries in United States of America which have strong family history collections hold[ing] very successful lock-ins’.

Since Karen sadly passed away in 2009, the lock-ins have continued under the leadership of Family History Librarian Seonaid Lewis.

Family historians and aspiring family historians start arriving during the afternoon of the last Friday of August, working overnight on their family histories and helping other people with theirs, until leaving at 8am the next day.

The lock-ins have been a collaboration between Auckland Libraries and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG), who have supported this venture right from the very beginning with their volunteers contributing to the expert knowledge available on the night. The event has proven to be great fun, we have all learnt so much from each other and have made some good friends along the way.

There are a handful of customers and NZSG volunteers who were at that first lock-in and are still coming today.

The inaugural Lock-in group, 2005.

Geraldene O’Reilly, the NZSG president of the Irish Interest group, has attended every single one of the lock-ins, helping many a fledgling search their Irish ancestry.

Geraldene O'Reilly busy at work.
The format Karen started has carried on, with a few unavoidable tweaks along the way.

Before the evening kicks off at 8pm there are the options of a tour of the Central Auckland Research by Seonaid and then a seminar on some subject, whether it’s Scottish family history or, as it is this year, beginning your New Zealand family history.

The night begins with Seonaid leading a 'meet and greet' and then the library staff  NZSG volunteers share their areas of specialty.
A happy researcher!

We then hit the computers, Microfilm readers and books and the momentum continues. Flagging souls help themselves to coffee and snacks in the library atrium and we are all revived with pizza at midnight.

Some succumb to a nap, in a cosy nook but it is amazing, with kindred family historians around and lots to share and learn, how the buzz keeps you going.

There have been many eureka moments:

I finally found something that could possibly lead to more information on my maternal grandmother's birth - the first really good lead in 25 years!

Came away with some exciting information it was certainly well worth it.
Can't wait till the next one.

I got so much information on the night that I am going flat out working out what I need to do next.

I managed to stay awake all night much to my surprise - the time seemed to go so fast.  I found a really good skeleton in my mother's side of the family so was very happy.

As Karen said in her proposal, back in 2004, ‘a family history lock-in is an opportunity to promote the Auckland City Library and it’s family history collection in an innovative way and provide a platform for Auckland City Libraries to work collaboratively with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists on a venture that both organisations are passionate and enthusiastic about.’

We are looking forward to more great research and sharing in August 2014. To register for this year's event, click here for more information.