Have you ever wondered whether the stories you heard about your great grandmother or other distant relative were true? Or wanted to know for sure where your ancestors came from? Auckland Libraries could be the place for you.
There are four research centres across Auckland at the Central, Takapuna, Waitākere and Manukau Libraries, which have specialist research librarians who can help you uncover the answers you’re looking for.
Senior Library Assistant Marie Hickey has been with Auckland Libraries for 12 years and is based at the Central Auckland Research Centre working alongside the Family History Librarian. The Central Auckland Research Centre has one of the most comprehensive international family history collections in a public library in the Southern Hemisphere.
“We have information for New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, mainland Europe, South Africa, USA, Canada and the Pacific Islands. This includes birth, death and marriage indexes, historic Maori Land Court minute books, passenger lists, parish registers and more,” she says.
“It’s also Family History Month right now, so it’s a great time to delve into your family history and find out a bit more about your roots.”
The golden rule
Marie says researching family history is a bit like being a detective and the internet has had a huge impact for historians all over the world.
“In the past you either had to visit the archive in-person or employ someone to undertake the research for you.”
The golden rule for looking into your family history is to have documentary proof such as birth, death or marriage certificates.
“The type of material you would use for research depends on whether you’re doing family history or genealogy. Family history includes information about where people lived, worked and went to school, etcetera; whereas genealogy includes names, dates and places of events.”
Marie says they often find records on people that other researchers have not been able to uncover.
“In my own family I found that the brother of my great, great, great grandmother served on the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror vessels – both of which were lost on Franklin’s expedition to the Arctic in the 1840s and have been located in recent years. He also served on Erebus when Mt Erebus was discovered and named after the ship.”
To celebrate Family History Month, Auckland Libraries have organised a programme of free talks and workshops around the region. Check out what's on this Family History Month at a library near you.