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Showing posts from May, 2020

Auckland Libraries’ research services during Alert Level 2

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We are excited to be able to reopen Auckland Libraries' research spaces to customers at Alert Level 2. But we are not quite back to business as usual yet.

Making sure customers and staff are safe is important to us. We have temporary measures in place including limits on the number of people who are allowed into our libraries, limits on time spent inside and compulsory sign-in for contact tracing.

Due to physical distancing requirements we cannot currently offer lengthy one-to-one research assistance but there is a lot we can do to help you find the information you need.

What can you do from home? We have a handy guide for researching your family history from home and you will find additional guides to help you get started with your research on the Auckland Libraries website.

If you are looking for news items, Papers Past is a rich source of full text New Zealand newspapers published up until the 1940s. Or if your topic is more contemporary search for references in the Auckland P…

Frederick Jenner's diary

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As part of Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections working from home effort, our teams are busy transcribing letters and manuscripts from our collections which have been digitised and are currently available on Manuscripts Online. My transcription tale is from a 'Diary kept from 1861-1865 by Mr. Frederick Jenner of Teviotdale, Canterbury, containing an account of his voyage from Liverpool to Lyttleton on the S.S. Great Britain, and of his subsequent life on his sheep run, and at Christchurch'.


I was drawn to this manuscript for a number of reasons. The S. S. Great Britain was a famous ship and there is an interesting passenger list for the voyage, including the first English cricket team to tour Australia and Thomas Hocken, who worked as the ship's doctor.

The scope and contents of the journal also appealed. This is a substantial journal of 200 plus pages and covers a significant time in the history of Aotearoa. In hindsight it was hubris to think transcribing the journa…

“Puzzle fiends”: the crossword craze in New Zealand

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In the mid-1920s a craze hit the world which was described as a “mania,” “cult,” and “epidemic,” (Evening Star, 7 February 1925) and which had an impact on social activities, reading habits, films, music, and even fashion: the craze for crossword puzzles.

The first known crossword was created by Arthur Wynne, a journalist from Liverpool, and was published in the Sunday newspaper New York World on 21 December 1913. You can try your hand at the world’s first crossword here. Other American and British newspapers began to publish crosswords in the early 1920s. Simon & Schuster had the bright idea in 1924 to publish a book of crosswords; the result was a mania which swept the nation and then the globe. By February 1925, the original crossword puzzle book had already sold 600,000 copies (New Zealand Herald, 5 February 1925).

Puzzle mania inspired hit songs such as Crossword Mama, You Puzzle Me, Cross Word Puzzle Blues, and Since Ma’s Gone Crazy Over Cross Word Puzzles. American railway …

Transcription tales: Rev. Benjamin Ashwell and the mission school at Kaitotehe

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During the COVID-19 lockdown, I have been transcribing Grey New Zealand Letters and was tasked with working on letters by authors whose surname begins with the letter 'A'. This includes 10 letters by Rev. Benjamin Yate Ashwell (1810-1883) spanning 1849-1871 (GLNZ A13.1-A13.10). Ashwell wrote these letters to Sir George Grey (1812-1898) who was twice governor of New Zealand, first from 1845-1853 and again from 1860-1868. All the letters that I, and my colleagues have been working on, are digitised and available via Manuscripts Online. The transcription work we are doing will not only assist with online searches but will help you read the letters, since nineteenth century script and abbreviations can be frustrating at times to read!



Ashwell was born in Birmingham, England and trained with the Church Missionary Society in London (1831-1833). He spent a few years as an Anglican lay missionary in West Africa before emigrating in 1835 to New Zealand. Between 1839 and 1842 he helped

For the love of animals: Dogs, cats and chooks!

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Kura Heritage Collections Online is a treasure trove of photos of every subject imaginable. We thought you might like to see a selection of lovely images of people and their pets. What do you find interesting about these photographs? Is it the animals, the people, the history or the fascinating reflection of our lives?



Kids and dogs go together like Weetbix and milk. Can you imagine the fun this lot must have had, racing up and down the hills with that long-legged dog? (We think it might be an English Pointer.)



This must have been one of the grandest and fluffiest cats in the country in 1971, let alone Franklin! Surely that expression is simply due to irritation at the paparazzi’s adoration. Shohala Dior was voted the most popular cat in the show.



Now that’s the way to travel! This dog seems very relaxed on his young playmates back. If you think the weatherboard building behind them looks a little bit like a schoolhouse, you’d be right. It’s the original school for the Piha Mill sett…