Family history information at the library

(Page last updated 16 October 2007)

Amazon book jacket

Featured resource

@home with your : how to research family history using the internet, by Diane Marelli. (2007).
As the title suggests, the author's aim is to enable you to build up a picture and history of your ancestors without leaving the comfort of your home internet PC. And that is a great starting point for those of us living across the world who can't visit the various archives where records are held in the UK anyway. She also deals with setting up a family history database to record and store your findings.

Classic catalogue help

  • If you already know the title of the item, simply type into search line and select Title Browse search.
  • "How to" guides to family history are mainly categorised by country. Select the Subjects option on the search page, and type in country keywords e.g. Poland Genealogy.
  • We have books on using computers and software to research genealogy
  • To research general geography, history, social life or customs, use the Keyword search option, and type in basic search words, e.g. History Oamaru, or Shetland history.

Recommended records and indexes to search

N.B. Unless otherwise stated all resources are held on the Second Floor at the Central Library, and are for 'in-library' use only.

NZ Official Record Indexes e.g. Births

Births (1840-1990), Marriages (1840-1990) and Deaths (1848-1990) index entries. Each of these is an index of names divided into years. Please ask at the Second Floor, Central Library enquiries desk.

NZ Cemetery Records

These microfiche are divided into regions, and each region has an index of names with a reference number. This reference number relates to a transcript of the epitaph of each headstone in each cemetery within that region. Wide coverage, but not fully comprehensive. A transcript of the Bolton cemetery is available in print format in the Local History Cabinet; please ask at the desk for Karori cemetery records.
Headstone inscriptions not only give the name of the deceased, but often the name of a spouse, some inscription, and if more than one person is buried in the same plot, they will be listed as well.

NZ Electoral rolls - (From 1866)

Up to 1943 these are on microfiche, so please ask at the enquiries counter. From 1946, they are shelved on the South Side of the Second Floor, Central Library.

NZ historical directories

The Library has several directories e.g. Stone's Wellington, Hawkes Bay, and Taranaki Directory from the late nineteenth century. Please ask staff to retrieve them, as most are not housed in public areas.


Apart from published resources, the main index to personal names is Shipping arrivals in Wellington, 1856-1887, which is held in the Local History Cabinet. Please ask Second Floor staff.

Whakapapa and iwi histories

Iwi lists of library holdings, compiled by our Māori Customer Librarian.
Whakapapa : an introduction to Māori family history research, by Brenda Joyce and Bruce Mathers. (2006)

Cyclopedia of new Zealand

This massive work contains 2 whole volumes on the Wellington region and can be located in the New Zealand Reference Collection, Victoria Street side at 919.31 CYC .

Microfiche Indexes

The library has a wide range. Two recent examples are:


The library holds back copies of the The Dominion and Evening Post on reel to reel microfilm.
(Dominion - September 1907- ; Evening Post - February 1865-)
Use these to look up Birth, Marriage and Death notices, but there is no detailed personal name index - so you need to know the date.

Alexander Turnbull Library Indexes

Some of the indexes compiled by the Alexander Turnbull Library to their scrapbook collection are held on the Second Floor, in microfiche format.

UK official records

1881 British census and national index England, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and Royal Navy is available on CD ROM on the Second Floor, Central Library. Please ask at the enquiries desk.
The Library does not hold the St Catherine's Index. Please contact the National Library, in Molesworth Street.

General family history aids

Most resources will be at the Central Library, although there will be a small amount of material at branches also.


Books on how to research and write family histories are usually shelved at 929.1 to 929.4.

Gazetteers and atlases

Gazetteers and atlases are shelved at classification 910-912.


Full text magazine articles are available in our magazine databases. Log on to Ebsco on with your library card number, and start searching.

To read the following articles on a computer outside of the library, you must have used Ebsco on that computer in the past 30 days.

The Rise and Rise of Family History, by Jules Hudson, in History Today, April 2007, Vol. 57 Issue 4, p20-21.
With the digitisation of official records, and the internet to make them very accessible, it is now relatively easier than ever to locate their family's history - or at least a sketch of their lives.

The Family Tree, Pruned, by Richard Conniff, in Smithsonian, Jul2007, Vol. 38 Issue 4, p90-97.
The article discusses the economic aspects of genealogy with the American Society of Genealogists estimating that genealogy is now a $1 billion industry. The author discusses the social aspects of Americans' fascination with genealogy, in particular African Americans that feel cut off from their heritage by the slave trade. The author comments that genealogical studies rarely take into account illegitimate offspring and inbreeding.

Of course, we also have many physical magazines you can use:

For further information, please visit our genealogy webpage, which includes special pages to begin researching Scandinavian and Scotish family. Also browse our Wellington local history webpages.

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