Archive for September 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Introduction to family history

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Genealogy is a study of pedigrees, a collection of names and dates, which trace a family line back through the past. 

  • When were they born? 
  • Who and when did they marry? 
  • How many children did they have and when were they born? 
  • When and where did they die? 
It's about establishing and proving relationships.

For some people genealogy is enough, their challenge is to go back as far as they can, but they know comparatively little about the people they are researching other than the facts.

Family history is a continuation of genealogy, in that it is also the research into the social history of the family. 

  • What did they do for a living? What was involved in their job?
  • What schooling did they have, and where? 
  • What events were happening around them during various periods of their lives? 
  • Why, when and how did they emigrate? 
  • Where are they buried?
- Its all about social, political, military, religious and cultural history.

Family history is about the stories.

Your library will have copies of “how to guides” that can get you started.

Genealogy is the skeleton
Family history is the flesh on the bones

Setting up your research

Note what you know in a pedigree chart - download our free Pedigree chart from our Resources page. 

Charting what you know allows you to spot the gaps.

Choose a genealogical software program that suits you.

Genealogy software programmes are complex database software programs that use a language called GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication). 

Because genealogical programs use a common language, this makes sharing of information really easy.

Choices depend on budget and circumstance.
No computer? Try an online one, via a website.


  • Portable, you can access where ever you have internet access
  • Other people can usually search your Family Trees to see if you have common ancestors (but don’t forget to verify other people’s research)
  • Usually free, with upgradeable options if you decide to spend money later
  • Uses GEDCOM so if you later decide to download your family tree to your own software program you can
  • Its the internet, so things like privacy and control of your own info could be an issue
  • You need to be sure that the website you are going with is one that is going to be around for a while, and what will it mean to you if they start charging for access or decide not to run their site any more
However, people wanting to undertake this hobby seriously, will need a computer.

For your own software, whether free or purchased, you will need to do your own research to decide what’s right for you.

Read some reviews and decide which to invest your time (and maybe money) into. Remember, though the old “you get what you pay for” is often true. Although you don’t need to spend big bucks necessarily, it would do to remember that “free” products are usually limited in some way. is a good resource for all things genealogical, so try this page for software reviews: or

Keep a research notebook, note the person you are researching, where you have looked, and what information you found. Transfer this into your genealogical database.
Filing your paperwork is immensely important. Number your subjects:-

• your most recent subject is number 1,

father = no.2, mother = 3,

• fraternal grandfather = no. 4, fraternal grandmother = no.5;

• maternal grandfather = no. 6, maternal grandmother = no. 7
Keep a master folder for each branch with family group sheets inside, to act as your index.

Create another folder for each family member once they get married, and start collecting their info as they create their own family groups.

Colour code your stationery (folders, document wallets, boxes etc) for each branch so you can tell which line they belong to at a glance (blue, red, green, yellow for example).

Keep very good notes, and make sure you record where you got the information from, recording volume number and page/folio numbers etc.

If its anecdotal information, cite who that person is and how they say they came across the info. Try to prove or disprove the story.

What to do with the information?

Share your research with your family.

Consider publishing your family tree online.

Even if you’d decided not to assemble the information online via a website when starting out, consider uploading the GEDCOM information when you are a bit more experienced.

There are many websites out there that encourage you to share your data.
If you are comfortable enough with this idea, then it is a splendid way of finding relatives, by having them find you.

Consider also sharing via Facebook. Which is a whole other session by itself.

Consider publishing your research in a book. - Remember to donate a copy to your library!

Happy hunting


Thriller Thursday:- Ancestry AU comes to Auckland Libraries!

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The Road to Damascus 1916-18

ANZACs in Palestine

Commemorating the 96th anniversary of the
Ottoman surrender of Damascus to the ANZACs

When: Tuesday 30 September, 4.30pm - 6pm
Where: Whare Wānanga, Level 2, Central City Library, Lorne St, Auckland
Cost: Free
Booking: To secure your place, please book online or contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 307 7771.
Join us to explore the shared experiences of the Australian Light Horse and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles during the First World War.

This panel discussion of family history experts including Ben Mercer from will cover the experiences of Kiwis and Australians who fought the Ottoman Empire across the Middle East.

Panellists for this event will be:

  • Ben Mercer from, speaking on the Australian Light Horse.  
  • Local military historian Terry Kinloch on the New Zealand Mounted Rifles
  • Rose Young from Auckland War Memorial Museum on artefacts from the Mounted Rifles.
  • Mark Stoddart from Archives NZ on extracting nuggets from the Services Archives.
  • Seonaid Lewis from Auckland Libraries on the war at home.

Special guest bio
Ben Mercer is Content Manager for the Australia & New Zealand branch of  family history research website

Before joining Ancestry, Ben’s interest in history compelled him to start Inside History, a digital and print magazine for Australian and New Zealand genealogists and historians.

Ben’s role at Ancestry allows him to combine his passions for history and technology. He works closely with the key cultural institutions that partner with Ancestry across the region, including archives, libraries, museums and societies, so that historical collections are digitised and made available on the Ancestry portal.

Of course, Ben has extensively researched his own family history. Two of Ben’s grandfathers fought in the First World War. Ernst Godlington Mercer fought for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on the Western Front, and was wounded at the Battle of Menin Road in 1917. His other grandfather, George Wheeler Skennar, was a Byron Bay dairy farmer who served at Gallipoli with the ANZACs in 1915, and went on to be wounded in the Battle of Pozieres in 1916.

Contact us
For further queries, please book online or contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 307 7771.

Motivation Monday:- The 10th annual Karen Kalopulu Family History Lock-In wrap-up!

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Our 10th annual Karen Kalopulu Family History Lock-In was a success again.

Forty-four guests, five staff and six volunteers from the New Zealand Society of Genealogists attended on Friday, 29 August to be locked in to the Central Auckland Research Centre from 8pm till 8am the next morning.

We had the pre-lock-in tour of the Research Centre, followed by a seminar "Getting it right first time".

Ancestry, Findmypast and ScotlandsPeople provided spot prizes for the evening.

Barbara won a 12-month World Heritage subscription to Ancestry, and Margaret, Joanne and Kim each won a one-month sub to Findmypast's World collection.

We started out with our usual traditional group photo.

We had two people who had attended all ten Lock-Ins.
Geraldene O'Reilly, our Irish expert from the NZSG
who has been assisting since the very first Lock-In
since the 2005!

Geraldene was one - our Irish expert, volunteering from the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. She'd assisted at all ten of our Lock-Ins, bless her!

Family history is about bringing families together - often long forgotten family members that you discover during the process of your family history research.

Family history can also lead you to discover living relatives who are either researching their family tree also, or are interested in your research.

Lauren & Julie (laughing) say: We are just here for a night out.
No, really, Lauren is researching her granddad's family in India
while I am trying to trace my father's family in England.

Some families also research together - whether by collaboration across distance, or getting together in person.

We often have mother/daughter, aunt/niece, father/son, sisters etc turn up at the lock-in to research.

Aslikia is looking for her paternal side of the family,
her 2x great-grandfather who was an interpreter to the
British consul in Fiji. Everything thing she has read has
referred to him as the son of a Fijian woman but this one
book mentions an American father.
She is trying to find out if the latter is true.

Some comments from the 2014 Lock-In guests:

Catherine Bell of Cambridge said:
“This is the fourth year I’ve come to the Lock In and I got more out of it this time than any year previously because I’m more familiar with the library. We’re finding out where more resources are. The more you come, the better it is and the staff are exceptionally helpful – I’m definitely coming next year.”

Margaret Treneman of Auckland:
This is my seventh Lock-In and I’ll be back next year. This year I especially wanted to research the session minute books (now held by Sir George Grey Special Collections) for St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for details about parishioners in the First World War.  I ended up discovering some lovely snippets. For example, in 1917 there was a move to start a Sunday evening service at the Tivoli Picture Theatre in K Road to reach “the non churched and lapsed Presbyterians.” The congregation unanimously agreed to it, St David’s Presbyterian in Khyber Pass protested, the Session went ahead anyway and asked St David’s to withdraw their protest, then Presbytery said the plan violated the Presbyterian Book of Order, and so St Andrew’s suspended their decision.”

Karen Lark and Sheila Holden of North Auckland
Karen and her mother Sheila from North Auckland had a massive research breakthrough on the night when they located details of an ancestor they’d been unable to find for years. They also located his military records and discovered he’d been an ANZAC in the First World War.

“We never knew he was an Anzac and it’s making the war commemorations more memorable for us knowing we had a relative who fought. If Seonaid hadn’t told us about the sites we would never have found about this relative – Seonaid and the staff have been so helpful.”

Joanne washing dishes, which is the smallest of
her very many and varied talents.

Happy hunting . . .

Seonaid and the Family History Team

Joanne Graves (staff)
This was the fourth time I’ve worked at the Lock-In and I just love the whole experience. It’s quite buzzy, you get to know the regulars, and there was an inspiring number of new faces this year. Each time it amazes me how well everyone just gets on with their research, and how many of them keep going right to the end - and then plan where they’re going for breakfast. Some just want to go home and sleep!

Jan Gow QSM FSG assisting a guest
with ScotlandsPeople

Kintalk makes Inside History's Top 50 Genealogy Blog Awards third year in a row!

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Here at the Central Auckland Research Centre we are very excited to see that we have made Inside History magazine's "50 blogs you need to read" list for the third year in a row!

We've always tried our best to concentrate on the quality of our blog posts, but this year we've redoubled our efforts to increase the quantity as well - always a challenge to find time in a busy research centre.

We do have some secret weapons - team members with a ton of research experience, as you might expect - but excellent writing skills too. Three in particular are published authors - one has published local history books, another romance fiction - and yet another writes flash fiction! What a star team!

We were especially chuffed to see that we'd made "Inside History's Hall of Fame" - as being one of only four blogs to have made this list three years in a row!

And what good company we are in (as always!)

Thank you so much to you readers who we know read our posts however often we publish!

And to Jill Ball (GeniAus) and Inside History magazine for selecting Kintalk - we're very grateful!

Our congratulations to our NZ industry colleagues Te Ara and The Hocken for making this year's Top 50 list too!

Happy blogging!