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.