Family History Month – Part 3

As Family History month continues so does the list of genealogy resources available at Wellington City Libraries. For this post we feature a handy hint from our Local History Specialist, Gábor, that you can use when using the historic ‘Birth, Death and Marriage’ database in order to get a specific date for the event you are searching for. Also some help in finding passenger lists for ships that came to New Zealand, World War 1 service records and the type of information you can find searching through the NZ Gazette. You can find a display of these genealogical resources from this series of blogs on the second floor of Wellington Central Library.

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PASSENGER LISTS
When did your ancestors arrive in New Zealand? How did they get here? Where did they come from? Passenger lists can help you answer all these questions.
If you already know the name of the ship, or which port they might have arrived at in NZ, or roughly when, you can find many passenger lists on:

Denise and Peter’s
Over 1000 passenger lists, which can be searched by the name of the ship or port of arrival.

New Zealand Bound
Passenger lists arranged by port of arrival. Excellent tips on calculating year of arrival and other details, and many links to other sites containing passenger lists and all sorts of information related to shipping.

If you’re starting from scratch, without any immigration details, you can search by your ancestor’s name to find a passenger list on:
Family Search – Archives NZ Passenger Lists, 1839-1973
Search by the name of your ancestor, or browse the collection by port of arrival, year and ship. There are good tips for searching the lists.

Papers Past
Ships’ arrivals were usually reported in the newspapers, sometimes with a list of the passengers and often with interesting details about the sailing.

WORLD WAR 1 RECORDS ON ARCHWAY
If you had a relative serving in WW1 their military record will give a thorough description their military service – from when they enlisted, through wartime and beyond. Besides valuable information like birthdate and place, and next of kin, you can find out all sorts of interesting details about them, like the colour of their eyes and condition of their teeth!
Personnel files of WW1 servicemen are held at Archives NZ. The files are made up of numerous documents (attestation papers, medical history, casualty forms etc) that have been compiled into one file for each soldier. The files have been digitised and can be searched by name on ARCHWAY

PAPERS PAST
For adding depth and fascinating detail to your family history research, you can’t go past Papers Past.
This website of digitised newspapers from the National Library’s collection of NZ (including Maori) and Pacific newspapers is continuously being extended – both date ranges and titles. You can search for specific people, places, events etc, or browse through papers – what you find will provide insights into the social, economic and political times in which your ancestors lived.
The new version of the website was launched recently and has more than just newspapers. It is divided into 4 sections – Newspapers, Magazines and Journals, Letters and Diaries, and Parliamentary Papers. Searching is easier, with “a cleaner, more modern interface…and search tools have been improved, making it easier to search groups of papers, pick date ranges, and scan results”.

BIRTH, DEATH and MARRIAGE: Obtaining specific dates

After a change in legislation in the mid-2000’s, tighter restrictions on accessing birth, death and marriage (BDM) data were introduced which saw the end of the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) providing annual datasets. These had been published on microfiche up to 1990 (which the central library continues to hold) and as computer files from 1991 onwards. However this change also saw the DIA make “historic” BDM data available and searchable online providing the following conditions are met:

1. The birth occurred more than 100 years ago
2. The marriage occurred more than 80 years ago
3. The death occurred more than 50 years ago OR the deceased was (or would have been had they still been alive today) at least 80 years of age. For example, the registration of someone who passed away in 1995 aged 60 can now be searched for as they would have been over 80 today.

Searches on the BDM website normally produces a year and a reference number of an event which can be used to obtain a full print-out or certificate. However by manipulating the search parameters, you can force the database to produce the actual date (day, month and year) that the event took place. Start by running a search that produces a BDM result of the name of someone you are interested in. Then gradually start to narrow the time-frame being searched for in the “Search from date” and the “Search to date” options. Start by narrowing the year; if the name suddenly disappears you will know the event is outside of the date parameters you have set. When a year is isolated, start to narrow the range of months being searched, again making sure the name you seek continues to result from a search, then do the same for the day within the month. When the “search from” and “search to” dates are exactly the same and the name you are looking for still results when a search is run, you know that you have isolated the exact date of the birth, death or marriage. Try it at BDM – Historical Records online

The NZ GAZETTE

The New Zealand Gazette is a weekly publication of government proclamations and is a massive source of genealogical information. Published since the earliest days of the colony, the gazette holds information about land transfers, bankruptcy notices & business liquidations, military call-up lists, local council information and a huge wealth of other information. One of the most useful areas of the gazette for the family historian are the lists of names (and often addresses) of individuals applying for formal registration within certain occupations. Occupations which required registration include doctors, nurses, teachers, electricians, boilermakers, engine drivers, architects and any number of other roles including positions such as Justices of Peace. One of the issues with the NZ Gazette was that until recently it was very difficult to find any information about an individual without knowing the date a gazette “notice” was published. Today we have access to a searchable database containing all copies of the NZ Gazette from 1841 through to 2014. As the database is a commercial product, it is not available online but rather must be used on a computer set aside for family history purposes at the Central Library. Ask at the reference desk on the 2nd floor for details.

Family History Month is here

It’s August so it must be Family History Month 2016. Here in Wellington it’s a busy month as the Wellington Branch of the Society of Genealogists collaborate with the National Library of NZ to bring a number of events to the region. At Wellington City Libraries we will be featuring these events in blog posts and on our social media channels and highlighting a months worth of genealogy resources available at our libraries and linked to from our website. This post features ‘Probate Searches’, the “Who Do You Think You Are” DVD’s and the ‘Online Cenotaph’ as well as a couple of Wellington based genealogy events. On the second floor of Wellington Central Library you will also find a display of these genealogical resources.

Who Do You Think You Are?
Syndetics book coverWho do you think you are? : the essential guide to tracing your family history / Dan Waddell. “Published against a big multimedia TV event, this book is a jargon-free idiot’s guide to tracing your family history. Light in tone, sometimes funny, often moving, and aimed at absolutely everyone, the book combines both stats and pub facts, with very real emotions as people discover the heroes and villains in their family’s past. Rather than a dry ‘how to’ guide though, this book is inclusive, non-patronising and lively, and emphasises the human and emotional side to this popular pastime.” (Abridged syndetics summary)

In the long-running television series on DVD you can follow celebrities as they trace their family history – and along the way pick up lots of tips on genealogy research techniques and sources. As well as the original UK series, there are also versions from other countries including the USA and Australia. Drive through Yorkshire with Jeremy Clarkson as he investigates his roots, or share Nigella Lawson’s surprise at what she uncovers about her ancestors – each episode is both entertaining and instructive.

Here is the series that started it all:

Who do you think you are? UK series 1 [videorecording].
Ten of Britain’s best-loved celebrities embark on inspiring, emotional and personal journeys, taking us back in time and around the world as we see how their ancestors’ lives have shaped the world they live in. People include Bill Oddie, Amanda Redman,Jeremy Clarkson, Lesley Garrett and Vic Reeves.

Recommended events coming up this week:
Starting your family research: using technology to get it right.
Weds 3rd August 5:30pm
Connolly Hall – Guildford Terrace, Thorndon.
Mary Shadbolt : A case study showing how McDonnell forbears and living extended family were found using a range of electronic and other sources in NZ, Australia and throughout the world, starting with two original documents.
Hosted by Kilbirnie Branch of the NZ Society of Genealogists

Family History at the Turnbull Library
Weds 3rd August 10 am
National Library of NZ, cnr Molesworth and Aitken Streets
Introductory tour of the family history resources.
Bookings required, email ATLOutreach@dia.govt.nz

Probate Searches
To save you a trip to Archives New Zealand offices to view the originals, Family Search has collaborated with Archives to provide digitised images of NZ probates. NZ probate records for 1843-1998 are indexed and images are available for all but the last 50 years.
Probate records contain many types of documents including wills, affidavits, property records and death certificates. They are a goldmine of clues for genealogical research, including the death date and occupation of the person making the will, names of heirs, guardians and executors, relationships, residences, addresses of property owned, an inventory of the estate, and names of witnesses. Click here and then on the search page, click on ‘Learn more’ for tips on searching the NZ Probates collection and things to keep in mind about probates records.

The Online Cenotaph
The Online Cenotaph is a living memorial to those who served this country in times of international conflict. It is a biographical database, and information sources include the official nominal rolls and New Zealand Gazette notices, and in many cases there are links through to digitised personnel files held by Archives New Zealand. While digitised records are an important part of the database there is also the feature of the public being able to submit personal war experience stories, photos and information. There is also the chance to lay a virtual poppy beside the name of the person you are researching.

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For more information on genealogy research, visit our Genealogy Popular Topic page.

WWI Soldiers and Archived Records

Lest we forgetLFor New Zealanders April 25th is the day we remember those from our nation who left our shores to fight in wars. For many of us it’s the day we wear a red poppy and perhaps attend the local memorial service. The number attending the memorial services is growing and all day television coverage with interviews and war documentaries are now part of our Anzac Day experience. Next year the chance to attend the ANZAC memorial service, to be held at Anzac Cove, to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli was much sought after and a ticket ballot was announced for family members of those who fought at Gallipoli. A newspaper article War records minefield by Michelle Duff in the Sunday Star Times highlighted the fact that sometimes the families did not know the details of family member’s war records and that a common misconception was the thinking that if your family member fought in the First World War then they would have been at Gallipoli. This brings us to the question, do you know where your relatives served in World War One?

Genealogy is a popular topic here at Wellington City Libraries and we have a number of resources to help you discover if your relative did indeed serve at Gallipoli. Your first point of call may be our Genealogy Popular Topics Page. Here you can find general information on researching your family history. From this page there are links to Military Resources. This page is a wealth of information for finding out about your family members’ military service.

Some of the most popular and useful links are:

AncestryAncestry Library
Available from internet PCs within our libraries. Contains millions of records accessible in one powerful search. Access is through the My Gateway page on our library website.

It includes:

Nominal Roll – NZ Army WWI Nominal Rolls, 1914-1918,
– New Zealand Army WWI Roll of Honour, 1914-1919,
– New Zealand Army WWI Reserve Rolls, 1916-1917,
– New Zealand Army WWI Casualty Lists, 1914-1919, and
– New Zealand Army WWII Nominal Rolls, 1939-1948.

Archives New Zealand offer a reference guide to the war information they hold in PDF form.

You can search the National Archives Archway Database to discover what military records are held by Archives and it also searches on probate records. Searching your relatives name may give you the names and dates of the files, record numbers and where the files are kept.

CWGCCommonwealth War Graves Commission The “Debt of Honour Register” is the Commission’s database listing the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations world-wide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. Information includes age, date of death, parents and parents’ place of residence.

With the celebrations and remembrance of the centenary of the declaration and start of World War One there are also many new books being published on World War One topics. The following two are good sources of material to be able to learn about the soldiers experiences through the eyes of the soldiers who were there.

Syndetics book coverFighting for empire: New Zealand and the Great War of 1914-1918 / Christopher Pugsley.
“One hundred thousand New Zealanders sailed to war between 1914 and 1918, and at the end of four years of conflict the country had suffered 60,000 casualties, including 18,000 dead. Dr Chris Pugsley’s account of the First World War (first published as a section in Scars on the Heart: 200 Years of NZ at War, Bateman, 1996), is a tale of learning about war the hard way, by bitter and costly experience, drawing on photographs, letters and diaries to examine the impact of war through the eyes of those involved. This lively mix of text, photographs and soldiers, own accounts covers all aspects of the war: from NZ’s seizing German Samoa five days after war was declared, ANZAC Cove and Gallipoli, patriotism at home, Mounted Rifles in Sinai and Palestine, the role of our nurses, the Western Front, and `Sea Dogs and Flying Aces’.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn awfully big adventure : New Zealand World War One veterans tell their stories / selected and edited by Jane Tolerton from interviews for the World War One Oral History Archive.
“[On] New Zealand Listener’s ‘100 Best Books of 2013’. What was it like to be a New Zealand soldier in the First World War? What impact did the war have on those who returned? Let them tell you. An Awfully Big Adventure traces the reminiscences and reflections of 80 veterans interviewed for the World War One Oral History Archive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past

GenealogyInterested in researching your family history?
From time to time we’ll be posting genealogy facts and advice here on the News Blog.
For other blog entries on genealogy, click on the tag “genealogy” at the bottom of this post.

Australians and New Zealanders know ANZAC day – 25th April – as a national day of remembrance to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Did you have a relative who took part in WW1? Would you like to read their Military Personnel Record?

Military records can provide amazing details for genealogists, especially ages and places of birth, while they can also expand family histories with information about campaigns, conduct and even physical descriptions of ancestors.

Continue reading “ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past”

Finding NZ Birth, Death & Marriage Records

GenealogyInterested in researching your family history?
From time to time we’ll be posting genealogy facts and advice here on the News Blog.  Our first entry is on Birth, Death and Marriage records (BDM), which are a good starting place when researching your family history.  Official registrations in NZ didn’t start until 1848 but there are some earlier records taken from church and place registers dating back to 1840.

Historic BDM Online
New Zealand historic BDMs are now accessible online through the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) website: www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz, and the great thing about this site is that it is updated daily.

What is a historic BDM and what information is actually available online?
A BDM qualifies as being historic if it was a

  • birth that occurred at least 100 years ago, or a still birth that occurred at least 50 years ago
  • marriage (and eventually Civil Unions) that occurred at least 80 years ago
  • death that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased’s date of birth was at least 80 years ago.

Continue reading “Finding NZ Birth, Death & Marriage Records”