It’s interesting to examine something I’ve done for so long (e.g. genealogy) and see how I do things. I guess it could be interesting for others as well.
For my latest project, I’ve been given my client’s maternal grandparents’ full names, birth dates (all since 1900), and where they were born (all New Zealand), and the same with her paternal grandparents.
The first thing I do is add the information I know into Ancestry.com, setting it up as a new family tree. To do this, I need to connect the four names, by adding in my client’s parents’ names.
I’ve also been told that my client’s maternal grandfather is deceased.
It makes it a little easier as the client is a friend of mine, and I know that her grandfather lived locally.
Cemetery Records and Headstones
I then searched the local cemetery records for information about the maternal grandfather’s passing (in this case, the Napier City Council Cemetery Database – http://www.napier.govt.nz/services/napier-cemeteries/cemetery-database/) and found the following new information (e.g. not provided to me before the search):
- Last Known Address
- Date of Interment – compared to Date of Death
- Funeral Director
- A picture of the headstone, complete with a digital copy of the inscription.
With this information, I added the Last Known Address, Occupation and Date of Interment to the Ancestry tree.
With the Funeral Director information, I could email the Funeral Director to see if they will provide any further information on the deceased – e.g. if I didn’t know the next of kin etc. Not required with this person.
With the headstone information, I now know the first names of two other children of the maternal grandfather (e.g. my client’s uncle and aunty). I added these into the family tree. I also saved a copy of the headstone image into the family tree as well.
I also use cemetery records and headstone images as confirmation of spelling of names, and for confirming birth and death dates. However, these are not always correct.
I’ve seen middle names spelt incorrectly on headstones – in my own family research.
I would complete this same process for other deceased family members. However, this only works when you know where the person lived, and if the cemetery records for that area are online.
Births, Deaths and Marriages
The next thing I look at is whether the maternal grandfather’s records are available online. Because this person was born and died in New Zealand, my first point of call is https://bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/.
In this case, his birth was in 1929 – e.g. 86 years ago, so his birth record isn’t online.
Because of this, the earliest he would have been married would be 1948 – e.g. 67 years ago, so his marriage record isn’t online.
However, as his birth was more than 80 years ago, his death record is listed online.
When looking at the listing, the only thing new is the registration number for the record – in case I need to purchase the record. I note it in the family tree (you never know!).
I can find the other records at my local library – using microfiche.
The other grandparents are all born after 1915, so all their birth and marriage record listings could be found at the library too.
- Set up family tree on Ancestry
- Checked cemetery records online
- Checked Birth Deaths and Marriages online
What I could do next:
- Email Funeral Director
- Check BDM record listings on microfiche at local library
- Purchase any BDM records (if required)