Showing posts from January, 2017

Best of 2016 - Brad Argent, DNA and Identity

Brad Argent (Ancestry) gave a talk in October at the Central Library on DNA. The talk came after the Family History Expo in Auckland, and was focused on the science of identity. As Brad said, DNA testing is no longer "just" a tool to help you work out your family history. It is so much more than that and it brings with it potential issues. He posed some thought-provoking questions: Does the absence of something in you change who you are, and how you see yourself? For example, if you grew up in a Māori community, and saw yourself as Māori, then get a genetic result back that says you're not Māori... do you stop being Māori overnight? He talked about the memetic self  - that is, the part of you made up of those "things" passed down to you through your culture, your family, and the family stories. What, he asked, happens when you've grown up hearing stories but learn you are not biologically connected to them? Do they just go away? Likewise, if you lear

A collection of roses from nature, 1796-1799 by Mary Lawrance

In 1799 a young woman called Mary Lawrance completed a 3 year-long project, a self-published book on roses, with all the 91 copper plates depicting varieties of roses etched and hand-coloured by herself. Image: Mary Lawrance. A collection of roses from nature, 1799. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections .  It was purchased for Auckland Libraries in 2014 by the Mackelvie Trust, a charitable trust that supports J.T. Mackelvie’s bequest of art and decorative arts to the city. A luxurious book, it was one of the highlights in the exhibition Old and new , held in 2017 at the Central Library. A collection of roses from nature was the first book to be wholly devoted to roses, predating Pierre Redouté’s more famous book by nearly 20 years. Redoute’s book has tended to eclipse Mary Lawrance’s, with later critics damning her with faint praise. However Mary Lawrance’s book was much more unusual, being entirely her own work, from the painting to the etching, from the printing to the

Best of 2016 - He manu hou ahau, he pi ka rere

Continuing our series on Family History - the best of 2016. Here's Maata, our Māori Reference Librarian, with her "best of." He manu hou ahau, he pi ka rere – I am a chick just learning to fly The above Māori proverb describes my recent experience as a new staff member at Te Kohinga Rangahau o Tāmaki Makaurau - Auckland Research Centre , aptly. Albeit perplexing at times, my seven months navigation of the research centre and its environs, the nearby stacks, the library basement and the Sir George Grey Special Collections has been very rewarding. Also discovering the depth and breadth of the cultural and historical material within the numerous collections held on the Heritage floor has been inspiring. As an unwitting fledgling, now airborne, I feel very honoured to be a kaitiaki/guardian of this extremely important environment that is rich with the cultural heritage of Aotearoa-New Zealand, the Pacific and Great Britain. I would like to share some of the highlights

Best of 2016 - Arctic discoveries and NZ connections

Here's another Family History Best of 2016, this time from Marie:  One of the highlights of 2016 for me was the discovery of HMS Terror in the Arctic. The Terror was sister ship to HMS Erebus and both sank in the 1840s while on an exploration voyage to find the North-west passage. While it is thought that they came close to discovering the passage, it was the subsequent voyages that went in search of the lost ships that mapped much of Upper Canada and the Arctic Circle. "Erebus" and "Terror" in New Zealand, August 1841, by John Wilson Carmichael (Public domain) Erebus is, of course well-known to New Zealanders as being the site of the largest airline fatality in New Zealand and at the time it was said that everyone either knew someone on the flight or knew of someone who had a direct link. For me, I had distant relatives and a friend’s brother who lost their lives but my link also goes back to the original ships as my three times great-grandmother’s br