Ship comes in for Genealogist
Genealogist researcher, Lynley Goldsmith, is delighted by a new online service giving access to New Zealand’s maritime immigration records from the 1850s to 1972.
As a result of a joint digitisation venture between Archives New Zealand and the Utah-based FamilySearch organisation, nearly three million records have been digitised and are being uploaded on to genealogy website FamilySearch.org. These records include passenger and crew lists noting arrivals and departures from all New Zealand ports between 1855 and 1915.
Lynley, a resident of Churton Park, has been conducting research using the shipping lists held by Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office for years.
“The shipping lists are a brilliant research tool and being able to access them from the comfort of home is fantastic,” she says.
“These lists show me where the people I am researching came from, how old they were when they arrived here, when and on what boat they arrived and other facts such as their profession and whether they owed the Government money for their fare.”
Lynley has been a member of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists for 25 years and a professional researcher for 10 years.
She has used the shipping lists, to not only trace the family histories of her clients, but also her own family.
“We always knew my husband’s family came from Scotland and through the shipping lists we learnt that they came from the Orkney Islands.”
“The online shipping lists are easy to use and user-friendly for both professional and amateur genealogists.”
Which is a good thing as family history research is one of the world’s most popular hobbies.
Lynley will continue to use the shipping lists in her work, and will also encourage other genealogists to do so.
“What I always tell my clients if they are doing research is to go back to the original source, and these online lists allow you to do just this. That’s the beauty of them,” she says.
In addition to her genealogical research Lynley traces missing people and the beneficiaries and heirs of deceased estates.
“I feel absolutely blessed to be able to do this job. The information I take back to people can make their day,” she says.
Archives New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Greg Goulding says, “digitising the shipping lists has been a remarkable project. We are delighted to provide both New Zealanders and a worldwide audience with direct online access to important parts of their family history.”
The digitisation work began in September 2008 when FamilySearch volunteers Bill and Glenys Chadderton from Te Awamutu began photographing the shipping lists in Archives New Zealand’s Wellington digital laboratory. The work is continuing with other records currently being digitised by FamilySearch volunteers.
Michael Higgins, Pacific Area representative for FamilySearch, says the project took about 18 months to complete. The information is now being indexed so visitors to the site can easily navigate around the records.
“Archives New Zealand has been great to work with and we were privileged to be involved,” he says.
Currently the passenger lists of assisted immigrants from 1855 to 1888 have been indexed and can be viewed online, with more to come. To search the lists, visit pilot.familysearch.org and select the beta site, then New Zealand.