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Getting Started in Family History

Researching your family history can be a fascinating pastime, but can also be a very long process. This guide is intended to provide you with a background on the resources available for researching your family history.

Step 1 Remember your ancestors

Begin with the detail you know and work your way backwards. Start with the details for yourself, your parents and grandparents. Record details such as:

Other family members – siblings etc
Birth, Marriage and Death places and dates
Any other information eg. Ship travelled on, places lived, religion and any family legends about the person. Such notes may prove a useful link further on in your research.

You may wish to record these on a form. Websites such as Family Search, Ancestry Library Edition (available from within the library) and The New Zealand Society of Genealogists have forms available which can be downloaded. There is also a wide variety of computer programmes available to help you store the information.

Step 2 Check for sources you and family members already have

Check your home for any information you may have tucked away. This might include newspaper notices, photographs, family bibles, funeral programmes, birth, marriage or death certificates. Do you have access to any other information? Talk to friends and family. Others in the family may have information which will add to the information you already have. Even little stories about things family members can recall about parents / grandparents will all add to the information you compile about your family.

Step 3 Choose a family or ancestor you would like to know more about

Choose an ancestor you would like to know more about and begin a search by focussing on this one person. Check the records you have already compiled for missing information and focus your search on filling in these missing details.

Step 4 See if someone else has already found the information

Check to see if the library holds a published family history on your family. Check resources such as Public Member Trees on Ancestry Library Edition. Check libraries and internet for historical information on the town your ancestors came from.

Step 5 Search records for information

Births, Deaths and Marriage

Heritage on level 3 of the Central Library holds indexes for New Zealand births, deaths and marriages on microfiche from 1840-1990. A searchable cd-rom for New Zealand Marriages 1836 – 1956 is also available. The Burial Locator cd-rom has some cemetery information. The New Zealand Cemetery records (available on microfiche) include tombstone transcriptions for many of the cemeteries in New Zealand. If your family members were local then there are the Intentions to Marry records for Hamilton District 1880-1956 and the Waikato Times which is available on microfilm from 1872. For overseas records Ancestry Library Edition and Find My Past databases are available to use free of charge on all library internet terminals. See library staff to access this resource.

Other resources which may be useful are:

Electoral Rolls
New Zealand Gazette
Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives
Nominal and Embarkation Rolls for Waikato Militia, World War I and World War II.

Two books by Anne Bromell which give good information for beginner genealogists are:

New Zealand beginner's guide to family history research and
Tracing family history overseas from New Zealand.

Both books provide a general guide to genealogical research in New Zealand, and to the resources available in New Zealand.

What to do with your information

You make like to think about how to store all the material, photographs etc you have found.  Digital NZ have produced this guide to digitising your family history.  Digitising Family History and Whakapapa
The National Library's Preservation Office has a range of factsheets available.

Hamilton Libraries