Part of the worldwide genealogy/family history community

FamNet eNewsletter February 2017

ISSN 2253-4040

Quote. The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.  Anon.


Editorial 1

Regular Features. 2

From the Developer 2

User Feedback. 2

Going Back. 2

Telling your story.    Index. 3

The Nash Rambler 3

DNA Testing for Family History. 5

22.  DNA Testing – One of the many advantages of DNA testing with FTDNA is its Projects…... 5

Index to previous articles. 6

Wairarapa Wandering. 7


From our Libraries and Museums. 8

Auckland Libraries. 8

Group News. 9

Whangarei Family History Computer Group. 9

Waikanae Family History Group. 9

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group. 10

News and Views. 10

Free Genealogy Books on The Internet Archive. 11

Book Reviews. 13

The Romanovs: 1613-1913. 13

Shapely Ankle Preferr'd. 13


LABOUR, The NZ Labour Party 1916-2016. 14

In conclusion. 15

A Bit of Light Relief 15

Advertising with FamNet 15

To Unsubscribe, Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information. 15

Back to the Top. 15


Share this newsletter

FBTweet Email


Peter has left it to me to once again write the editorial – slack!   Should I fire him?  Not a good idea, then I’d have to do the whole newsletter myself, and I simply don’t have the time.  I know, I’ll double his wages.  What’s twice $0?   No, that won’t help.

As for the editorial, I don’t know that I’ve got anything new to say, so I’ll just repeat my main message – TELL YOUR STORY.  FamNet is a great way to organise your stories and research.  You can easily attach things (Word and PDF documents, pictures and scanned pages, even video and audio) to one or several of your records, creating a rich history of your family.  I’ve covered how you do this in previous newsletters, and there’s a complete list of my articles on this subject below.  Just click the link to go to the topic that interests you.   And remember, whether you are an experienced genealogist like Jan Gow or Peter Nash with an extensively-researched whakapapa containing hundreds of records, or somebody just starting out with a family tree containing nothing more than you and your parents, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to record the stories that you and your living ancestors remember.  Records remain, but memories vanish!

In this issue: -

·                     From The Developer: User Feedback: it’s great when we hear from people, even when it’s problem.  Especially when it’s a problem.

·                     The Nash Rambler: Genealogy is best as a shared activity.  

·                     DNA testing for Family History: One of the advantages of DNA testing with FTDNA is its projects

·                     Wairarapa Wandering: the SKEY-FRANCIS family

·                     Auckland Library Events: Next year's Lectures in the lunchtime series

·                     Hanley Hoffmann: how much of your family history has been brushed under the carpet?

·                     From Dick Eastman’s newsletter:  Free Genealogy Books on the Internet Archive

·                     Book reviews: between us we’re proving that Peter and I are the only people who read books.



Robert Barnes


Back to the Top

Regular Features

From the Developer

User Feedback

FamNet has a particularly valuable user in New Plymouth.  Why do I think that Laurie is particularly valuable?   I like it that he makes a lot of use of FamNet, but the reason he’s valuable to me is that when he has a problem he tells me.  Sometimes the problem is his – he made a mistake or didn’t understand what to do.  But often the problem has been mine: a particular operation doesn’t work as it should because of a mistake in my programming.  Yes, I know, it’s hard to think that a programmer of my vast skill and experience might get it wrong …  cue hysterical laughter!  

Generally FamNet works reasonably well, but it has a lot of sophisticated functions, some of which are rarely exercised, so there are many situations where my testing has not found all the possible errors.  If nobody tells me that something’s wrong I’ll never know, so I really value people who will tell me when things don’t go as they should.  Over the years Laurie and I have exchanged many emails, and had several Skype sessions where we’ve used Skype screen-sharing to see what he’s doing and to show him how I thought the feature should be used.  Many improvements to FamNet have resulted from this, and we’ve all benefited.

So, if you have a problem, don’t just swear and ignore it, let me know.  Email is best and we’ll Skype if necessary.  I don’t promise to fix it quickly, I do promise that I’ll look at the problem, and it won’t be forgotten until it is fixed.

Going Back

Sometimes the problems aren’t really mine.  Recently Laurie had problem going back to a previous page.  But there are two ways of doing this: -

FamNet has a [Back] button at the top of every screen.  On some screen this also appears further down as well: -


This back button works perfectly (according to Laurie, and as far as I know).  The problem comes with the other, which is the browser’s back arrow.  In Firefox: -


Clicking this back arrow often does what the [Back] button does – but it often doesn’t.  Sometimes the previous page doesn’t exist and you get a message “Page has expired” or similar.  This isn’t just a FamNet issue, you’ll get the same response on other sites – try going back in the middle of a credit card process, or a bank transfer. Changing browsers won’t make any difference: this is just the way that the web works. This is not an error; this is a deliberate feature of Internet design, as without it web pages might allow security breaches or other errors.   

For example, many web pages have pages that require viewers to be logged on.  What happens if you click a link to such a page?  Typically the web site will redirect you to a logon page, get your name and password, and then pass control to the linked page.  You may not even see this intermediate page – for example if you click the FamNet link from Cenotaph you think you go directly to the FamNet record of the person (say my Uncle Albert), but actually you’re going via a logon page that logs you in as a Cenotaph guest.  You never even see this page, and by the time you arrive at the FamNet record of Uncle Albert it longer exists.  The browser’s back button would attempt to take you back, but because it doesn’t exist you’ll get the “Page has expired” message.

The [Back] button in FamNet takes you back to the previous “different” page, which might be another ancestor and which might be several pages back according to the browser’s back button.  In FamNet, always use [Back], not the back arrow.

Telling your story.    Index

So far I’ve covered these topics.

1.  Writing your story as notes, or with Word.  Embedding links in Word documents. 

2.  Embedding pictures in Word documents. 

3.  Saving Documents for Web Publication.

4.  Saving Scrapbook Items

5.  Sharing your Story: Managing your Family Group

6.  On Line Editing: More Facts, Family, GDB Links

7.  Comparing and Synchronising Records

8.  Producing and Using Charts

9.  Merging Trees.  Part 1:  Why Bother?

10.  Merging Trees.  Part 2:  Adding Records On-Line

11.  Merging Trees.  Part3.  Combining Existing Trees

12.  Finding Your Way Around FamNet (Getting Help)  

13.  FamNet – a Resource for your Grandchildren

14.  FamNet’s General Resource Databases
Updating General Resource Databases

Back to the Top

The Nash Rambler

PAN Portrait FamnetIn my previous column I mentioned the long term search for Joseph NASH and how I needed to unearth cartons of research out of the shed to prove or otherwise a proposed ancestry I found on That will happen at the end of the month when my daughter arrives home from London for a short visit. She doesn't know it yet but she is also going to discard a few cartons of her "valuables" at the same time.

But this exercise brought back to mind another long-term research problem that I solved back in 2008. The solution has been a source of much pride and has been used as an example of brilliant research many times during my now-finished public speaking career.

Sarah DINNISS is my great, great, great grandmother and appeared in the Saleby, Lincolnshire parish records as having an illegitimate son baptised in 1835. Luckily for me, the child's father was the son of the churchwarden, John BLADES, who recorded the christening and named the father. This child was named John Blades DINNISS and subsequently came to New Zealand, married a Myriam SMITH - a daughter of William and Elizabeth SMITH, another problem of long standing. I suppose that I should be grateful that Myriam's parents weren't John and Mary but I haven't got very far back down that line.

One major problem in this research was the various possibilities for the surname - DINNISS, DINNIS, DINNESS, DINNES, DENNISS, DENNESS, DENISS, DENIS, DENESS, DENES, DINIS and others I may have missed. That is, all combinations of D*N*S appear at some stage of my research.

I started this research in the early 1990s and there was no or Findmypast. That was the good old days of reading films at the LDS research centres. Ann Bromell used to drum into her students at night classes and members of her branch of the NZSG, Onehunga, that, in problems like this you worked your way around the last parish of "sighting" in concentric circles, slowly working your way outwards until you hit "pay dirt" and thus solving the problem. So I gradually worked my way outwards from Saleby, reading film after film, and recording all occurrences of the name.

Incidentally, I visited Saleby last year and each parish is very small and the distances between parish churches are very small. Saleby is a village of a few houses only and the nearest market town, Alford, is a lovely small village in Lincolnshire.

After many years and many films (including Wills, Census, etc) I found a possibility in a village of Sedgbrook to the south west of Saleby. I wasn't totally convinced about this one but at least I found an option. About this time, 2008, I joined Genesreunited and hooked up with another DINNISS researcher - a New Zealand airline pilot living in Queensland having the surname DINNISS. I mentioned that I had found the possibility at Sedgbrook and he mentioned he found a possibility (born 1809) at Great Carlton, north east of Saleby and could not prove or disprove her as being the right option.

By this stage I had been working on this problem for fifteen years. By now was up and running. I was also working for the NZSG (another story) and I had about six or seven films ordered in for reading which included Great Carlton and surrounding parishes. I was having coffee with Elaine Bell and her research team and we discussed my DINNISS research problems. I could not find Sarah DINNISS (and variant surnames) in any census records and there were too many John DINNISS (and variations) options in the 1841 census and birthplaces were of no value in that census.

We had the whiteboard covered with suggestions for research and one postulated that Sarah had married before the 1851 census. This was relatively easy to check out by searching's 1851 census for every Sarah, born in Great Carlton, in 1809 plus or minus two years. Only two sensible options were found - Sarah WHITWORTH married to a Joseph WHITWORTH and Sarah PLUMTREE married Jacob PLUMTREE.  Sarah Whitworth had a "stranger" in the house - Moses MALKINSON who was a son-in-law to the head of the household and the household was in South Cockerington.

Marriage records showed that a Joseph WHITWORTH had married a Sarah MALKINSON in 1846. Realising that "son-in-law" had a different meaning back then we focussed on this option rather than the other.

All options were put up on the whiteboard - she had died before 1841, she had moved out of Lincolnshire (but not NZ because I had checked) etc but included the proposal of another marriage before the 1841 census. HMMMM!!!

Researching Lincolnshire marriage records we found a marriage for Robert MALKINSON and Sarah DENNIS in 1836 in South Cockerington.

Finding a Sarah MALKINSON in the 1841 census was impossible. Using a bit of "left field logic" we searched for Moses MALKINSON, born 1838 plus or minus five years living in South Cockerington which was his birthplace according to his entry in the 1851 census. We were unable to find him but using the same method as we had for Sarah ie ditching the surname we came up with about 70 options but one stood out, Moses MORVINSON, living in South Cockerington. Looking at the record we discovered a wife Sarah and J DINNES, aged 8 in the household. VOILA!!!!

Having all the films needed to prove two marriages, one death and all the census records solved the problem.

Suddenly within an hour I had another six children and Sarah's ancestry back another three generations with their extended families. Sarah had lived the rest of her life in either South or North Cockerington and died in 1900 aged 91. After fifteen years it took about an hour to solve.

The moral of this story is that I could not have solved this problem without discussions with other genealogists.

Elaine Bell is an exceptional researcher but the others in her team contributed all sorts of possibilities. You would not believe all the possibilities that were on the whiteboard.  I had become blinkered and forgot to consider all sorts of alternative possibilities. Working by myself I may have solved the problem but it may have taken another fifteen years. I am a fan of putting out on the internet the bare bones of my family tree to use as a fishing exercise - I could not have contacted the airline pilot otherwise.

Therefore I thoroughly recommend regular discussions with other researchers. NZSG you owe me for this - maybe join your local group. Other researchers have no previous knowledge and therefore may suggest a weird scenario that may lead to resolution.

Another situation to illustrate this point. I was doing some paid research for a lady that was looking for a John DIAMANTI in Hobart in the 1800s who came to Banks Peninsula. I was getting nowhere so stopped searching but reported to her that she would probably find him as Jack DIAMOND and that he was a convict. This was supposed to be a humorous parting shot. Months later she rang me and thanked me for my insightful suggestion. She followed it up and it was right.

In summary, family history is not a solo sport. No matter how good a researcher you are or as you think you are, you become blinkered by the very work you are doing. Somebody who is not been involved in your particular research area and problem can put up some other possibilities. They may know of resources in New Zealand that you were unaware of. They may see the obvious mistake that may have happened. A dumb suggestion is better than no suggestion. Discussions with fellow researchers is highly recommended.

Thus endeth the lesson for today.

Regards to all

Back to the Top

DNA Testing for Family History

 22.  DNA Testing – One of the many advantages of DNA testing with FTDNA is its Projects…

GailRiddellI have said on numerous occasions that not all DNA testing firms are equal.  See my previous article #21 in this newsletter.

Nor do they give identical results – this is not because the results are wrong, but the outcome is based on the testing chip used by the firm concerned.  Nor do they all offer the same tests and prices vary enormously.

Try to not get taken in by glossy advertising – the PR people are highly paid to put a really positive spin on the products being sold and the eventual outcome.  And most definitely  read the fine print before signing up.

My favourite testing firm is, but please understand I am neither employed by them nor receive any perquisites of any description – I am a total volunteer, and depending on what is wanted by a tester I will recommend any one of the three main genealogical testing firms.

Having said that, in this article I want to state a less well known but very advantageous (from my perspective) offering from FamilytreeDNA (FTDNA).  This is the ability for a tester to join a project.  There are many categories of projects: for example there are 

·         Y Surname projects (usually males only unless a female joins and has a male family member test; 

·         Geographical projects (some are for the Y Haplogroups and some for the Mitochondrial Haplogroups and some are for both); 

·         Mitochondrial projects, 

·         Autosomal projects; 

·         Y Haplogroup projects.

You will not necessarily see every project category unless you have taken a specific test for such a project.  After all, there is no sense in a female whose only test is mtDNA trying to join a Y Haplogroup project, therefore until she looks from the perspective of her personal FTDNA Home page, she will not see this category in the general listing..

Every single one of these projects is free to join and all are run by volunteers.  The downside to this is that sometimes (especially if the project is large) the administrator can get buried in emails and are unable to give a speedy response to a question, but all try hard to respond within a couple of days.

Every administrator must agree to a policy set out by FTDNA which is very focused on privacy.  For example, no administrator may give out any of your details to anyone or do anything with your results unless you actively request via email.   Some administrators also operate private websites and by and large these work well.  Occasionally an administrator doesn’t follow the policy procedures: when discovered, the administrator is speedily removed.

Surname Projects

Family Tree DNA Projects are run by administrators.  Administrators are unpaid volunteers who have an interest in the history and genealogy of a particular haplogroup, lineage, geographic region, ethnic group, or surname. They are given access to tools to compare results and are responsible for managing and organizing the data for their projects.

Not every surname is represented but there are 7007 surname projects (and a number of the GUILD surnames) represented in the category of surname projects at today’s time of writing (17 Jan 2016). 

A tester may join any of these and the administrator will only raise an objection if it appears to be a frivolous request.  This is your cue to get on side with the administrator if you think there is any possibility that they might object.  Ladies, be aware that some administrators will not accept you and will ask you for a male relative interested in joining.  Some will also expect your Family tree to prove that you have a direct connection with the surname whose project you are wishing to join.

Adoptees find such restrictions particularly difficult.  Consequently, many administrators who are sensitive to this issue will allow anyone to join.  In recognition of this issue, FTDNA enable testers to designate particular surnames when seeking matches to their results via their personal FTDNA Home pages.

There are Surname projects beginning with any of the alphabet letters (2 for X and 46 for Z as examples.  You can see these and click on them to learn which surnames are actually active by going to

Geographical Projects

New Zealand is not represented here because it is classed as a Dual Geographic Project, meaning both males and females can join it.  It (along with Australian projects) are found in the Dual Geographic Projects category.

The same principle applies to the MT Geographical Project – only those with an mtDNA test should join it.


If, for example, you have not tested your DNA via FTDNA and you just happen to do a Google search, you may well find a project run by FTDNA come up in the list Google will give you.  If you land on one which interests you, click on the JOIN  button and take advantage of the project’s discount (and start your new journey into the realm of genetic testing for genealogy.)

Index to previous articles

The series is well worth re-reading.  Previous articles in the series are:

1. What is Molecular Genealogy?

2. Where would I begin?

3. What test should I take?

4. What DNA will NOT tell you and the risks involved.

5. Direct paternal line (men only).

6. Direct maternal line (men and women).

7. All the lineages including maternal and paternal (men and women).

8. Understanding direct paternal results.

9. Understanding direct maternal line results.

10. Understanding your Autosomal ("cousin") results.

11. Understanding the X Chromosome.

12. Bits ‘n Bobs: DNA Testing Companies, Glossary.

13. DNA Websites, Blogs, and Forums

14. Commonly Asked Questions – Some Basic, Some Advanced

15. DNA – Something a little different…

16. Current Pricings for the Three Main Genealogical Testing Firms

17. DNA Testing for Family History

18. Starting a new series on Y DNA Testing

19. DNA Testing – Getting into SNP testing on the Y chromosome to enhance your Family History
20. DNA Testing – Getting into SNP testing on the Y chromosome to enhance your Family History (Contd) 

21. DNA Testing – Going over some frequently asked questions, plus, plus…


Gail Riddell 

Wairarapa Wandering.


Here is another family that settled in the Wairarapa that I have researched. The information has mainly come from descendants.

When I first started looking beyond the headstones at Clareville cemetery, here in the Wairarapa, one headstone stood out above the rest. It is a tall grey monument for William SKEY, together with his wife, Louisa (nee FRANCIS)


William came out from England, and was the Colonial Government Analyst for over 30 years, anything from cow manure to sherry was analysed….. William worked for the Geological Survey with James Hector. Sadly, he and his wife Louisa lost some children.

In November 1893, Ernest died, in an accident with his tracton engine coming up from Martinborough. Son Frank married Fanny FRANCIS in 1890 and had a family. Phyliss never married, and son William Trevor SKEY became as an Anglican Priest, both buried at Clareville.


Henry was William's brother, being sons of William Fawcett SKEY and Harriett. He joined the Lands and Survey Dept. as a draughtsman. He married Sarah Ann ROSS and was one of New Zealand’s earliest amateur astronomers and lived in Dunedin..


But, I was contacted by a lady in Italy who had roots in the South Island, through Henry's side, who said she did not think the father William Fawcett SKEY was married to Harriett…


I am in touch with family with the Francis side in Raumati area near Wellington. As William’s wife, Louisa, was the sister to Walter FRANCIS who lived here at Clareville in the early days. He came out from Cheltenham, Gloucester..


Incidentally Francis Line is named after the Francis family, and name of Clareville after daughter Clara FRANCIS who married Frank Wm. Dundee QUANTTRELL. All are buried at Clareville Cemetery.


I do have a manuscript hand written by William SKEY.


I wish I could find out who this person was in Italy again having lost all the details of contact.


So here is a plea for help - anyone knowing more please get in touch with me,


Thank you in advance 

Adele Pentony-Graham

12 Neich’s Lane



From our Libraries and Museums

Triggered by an email from Seonaid (Shona) Lewis, we are offering a forum to our libraries and museums to publicise their events, and to contribute articles to this newsletter that may be of interest to our readers. Auckland Libraries is starting to make good use of this free service, let’s see if other libraries and museums take up this offer.

For readers of this newsletter: please bring this to the attention of your local libraries etc, and encourage them to participate.

Auckland Libraries

HeritageTalks 2017 

When: Fortnightly on Wednesdays from February to November, 12pm - 1pm unless otherwise stated
Where: Whare Wānanga, Level 2,
Central City Library, Lorne St, Auckland
Cost: Free
Booking: All welcome.

To ensure your place, please contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 8902412, or complete our online booking form.

Interested in family and local history? The history of this country, as well as the rest of the world?

Then why not come along to one of our fortnightly HeritageTalks and hear more about both our personal and our shared heritage.

Coming up in HeritageTalks:    


Exodus to the Southern Seas with Michelle Patient

Wednesday 8 February, 12pm -1pm

Aotearoa is not only the land of the long white cloud, but a land peopled by immigrants. Join us at our first Lunchtime Lecture for 2017 to hear researcher Michelle Patient discuss various waves of migration to New Zealand, particularly from Britain, and touch on the who, what, when, where and why they came.

Recording Family History for People of Chinese Origin with Annie Chui

Wednesday 22 February, 12pm-1pm


Chinese genealogy


Let’s look at the new ScotlandsPeople with Jan Gow

Wednesday 8 March, 12pm -1.30pm

What is new and what is different and what is, thankfully, still the same . . . We have a chance to find our family from 1500s through almost to date! Pretty much from womb to tomb!! Find a marriage in the Parish Register or Civil Registration; then look for the babies; then for their marriages; and then for deaths - and wills!! (

Selwyn Stories with Christopher Paxton

Wednesday 22 March, 12pm -1.00pm

Late last year The Church on the Corner: a history of Selwyn Church Mangere East, 1863-2012 was published. Author Christopher Paxton tells the general history of Selwyn Church, but also looks at some of the back-stories behind Selwyn, some of the social issues that affected the church during its 150-year history and some interesting sidelights that popped up during his research.

All welcome.

To ensure your place, please contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 8902412, or complete our online booking form.

Ngā mihi | Kind regards


Seonaid (Shona) Lewis RLIANZA | Family History Librarian
Central Auckland Research Centre, Central City Library
Heritage and Research
Auckland Libraries -
Nga Whare Matauranga o Tamaki Makarau
Ph 09 890 2411| Extn (46) 2411 | Fax 09 307 7741
Auckland Libraries, Level 2, Central City Library, 44 - 46 Lorne Street, Auckland
Visit our website:

@Kintalk on Twitter / Auckland Research Centre on Facebook

Group News

Whangarei Family History Computer Group


image001 Wayne: (09) 437 2881

 Pat: (09) 437 0692


Thursday evening venue is 6 Augusta Place, Whau Valley. Call Wayne or Pat or;

email, if you need directions.

 Saturday meetings are held in the SeniorNet rooms in James Street.

The rooms are upstairs in the Arcade leading to Orr’s Pharmacy and Tiffany’s Café, Start time 9.30 till finished before 1.30pm.


47 Websites You Can Use Instead of Wikipedia for building a profile of your ancestors, what they did and about the times they lived in.

“Wikipedia is perhaps the most popular reference site online, with millions of high quality articles available on virtually any topic. However, there are limits to what Wikipedia can offer. Here are 47 Wikipedia alternatives you can use to find information, research a paper, get quick answers, and much more.”

WHANGAREI FAMILY HISTORY COMPUTER GROUP – starts its meeting in February with a number of us getting into extending our research into DNA.

Waikanae Family History Group


Contacts:  Email: Phone (04) 904 3276, (Hanley Hoffmann)

Venue: Meets every 4th Thursday morning at the Waikanae Chartered Club, 8 Elizabeth Street Waikanae, just over the Railway Crossing from 9.30am to 12 -12.30pm, every month from January to November.

Research days: at the Waikanae Public Library, 10am to 12 noon on second Wednesday of each month.



Getting away from the Hoffmann name to Bernard’s time serving in WW1, it is significant to note that many servicemen including Bernard Laurence Hoffmann, while serving in Egypt, were prone to VD, venereal disease, many of them could not resist the temptation to use the Cairo brothels. Bernard’s file reveals that he had “time out” for VD.

I imagine that both Sylvia his wife, and her subsequent families would not have known this fact, access to servicemen’s files is a more recent phenomenon, so this fact would have been kept a secret by most servicemen.   In any case one could imagine relatives would have said ‘…no it could not happen to Ben (as he was known) because he was a good Catholic young man…..!   How often have you heard relatives go into denial over a newly, not so tasteful revealed fact.  I have two female cousins who had the same burst of denial over their mother having a child out of wedlock!  “Our mother was a good Catholic…. Impossible!”

If you look at many of the servicemen of WW1 in Egypt this was a cause for leave. 

Ben was astute enough to save his money; I suspect that he did not waste his military pay, or what he saved in employment before he enlisted.  One of his eldest sons went on to ask me (because of my doing family history) where his father got all his money from, and I was astonished at this approach, I only had occasional contact with Ben as a great uncle, and here was a son who had lived and worked closely with his father in farming, most of his lifetime.  He obviously bought and sold land adjacent to his brother Harry at Yannawah after getting married at age 29 and then moved to West Wyalong and purchased a farm. That would have been no mean feat in 1922/1923 in his son’s eyes, but he never inquired of his father how he was able to muster equity to make such a purchase.

Hanley Hoffmann

A New Zealand resident, born in Young.


Hanley Hoffmann                  

Waikanae Family History Group

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

The contact details of this group are:

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

Rose Cottage 33 Memorial Place


Tel: 06 – 754 – 3212


Back to the Top

News and Views

From the Editor: Here is an article by Dick Eastman that resulted in hours and hours of fun and lost "research time" although it was a nice sidetrack. There are an amazing collection of old books from the UK as well as USA.I don't think I learnt anything to add to my research but I read or browsed a number of historical books on the areas my ancestors lived in. I suggest that you have a play.

Free Genealogy Books on The Internet Archive

When I started researching my family tree more than thirty years ago, I purchased a paper reprint of a genealogy book first published in 1920: The Harmon Genealogy, comprising all branches in New England written by Artemas C. Harmon. The book mentions my great-grandmother, Lucy Harmon, and documents her Harmon ancestry back to 1667. It is a wonderful resource, and I have referred to this book often over the years.harmon-genealogy

I paid more than $100 for this reprinted book many years ago. Today I found the same book online. The cost is ZERO. I can download the entire book to my hard drive or to a jump drive or save it to an online storage service. I can print one page, multiple pages, or even the entire book. Even better, I can electronically search the entire book within seconds for any word or phrase. Not only can I search for names, but I can also search for towns, dates, occupations, or any other words of interest. Try doing that with a printed book!

The Internet Archive, also known as “The Wayback Machine,” is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

The Internet Archive is well known for storing terabytes of old web pages. However, the organization has also expanded its role to digitize and store all sorts of public domain material, including old books, movies, audio recordings, radio shows, and more. I have also found a few modern books on The Internet Archive that were legally contributed by the copyright holders themselves.

The site’s Text Archive contains a wide range of fiction, popular books, children’s books, historical texts and academic books. The list includes genealogy books as well. The Internet Archive is working with several sponsoring libraries to digitize the contents of their holdings. In addition, private individuals are invited to scan the public domain books in their personal libraries and upload them as well. (See for information immigrants-in-pennsylvania-coverabout contributing your books.)

The result is a huge resource of books in TXT, PDF, and other formats, books that you can download to your computer, save, and then search for any word. The same books are also visible to Google and other search engines, including online every-word searches.

Right: “A collection of upwards of thirty thousand names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and other immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776 : with a statement of the names of ships, whence they sailed, and the date of their arrival at Philadelphia, chronologically arranged, together with the necessary historical and other notes, also, an appendix containing lists of more than one thousand German and French names in New York prior to 1712”

The PDF versions contain images of every page in the original books. That makes them easy to read. I prefer to look at PDF versions of a book whenever possible. However, searching the PDF versions electronically does not work very well.samplepage

You should be aware of a couple shortcomings of books converted to plain text, however. First, the TXT files have lost the formatting of the original books; there is no bold or italics or underlining since such formatting is not supported by TXT formatting. In addition, paragraph indentations and other “spacing” often is lost.

Secondly, many of the books available were converted to TXT format by OCR software. OCR never converts all words perfectly; so, you can expect to find numerous OCR errors in these documents. For instance, “The Harmon Genealogy, comprising all branches in New England” has some words mis-scanned, and many dates have errors in them. The common one was substituting the letter “I” in place of the number one, such as “I920” instead of “1920.” This will cause difficulty if you are electronically searching for specific words or numbers.

The Internet Archive presently digitizes more than 1,000 books a day and presently has more than 11 million “texts” (books and other printed material) available online. There is also a collection of 300,000 modern eBooks that may be borrowed or downloaded by the print-disabled at If you do not find what you want today, come back in a few months and try again. It may have been added by then.

Of course, the Internet Archive is not the only source of digitized books. In fact, Google Books is a well-known source of digitized books. Operated by a well-funded commercial company, Google Books gets most of the publicity. However, with commercial ownership come proprietary business methods. Google Books has almost stopped adding new books to the collection. New additions have slowed to a trickle. However, all books previously digitized remain available online at

The Internet Archive also provides most books in http, EPUB, Kindle, Daisy, and DjVu formats in addition to TXT and PDF. As a result, the books and other documents can be read on almost any ebook reader as well as on computers, iPads, and most cell phones that have web browsers.

The Internet Archive does not yet have all the genealogy books ever published. In fact, nobody seems to know how many genealogy books are available this way. Even the folks at The Internet Archive don’t know. They simply scan everything they can find and don’t worry much about classifying the topics. However, it is known that the Archive’s ever-expanding collection of genealogy resources includes items from the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Robarts Library at the University of Toronto; the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library; Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; the National Library of Scotland; the Indianapolis City Library’s Indianapolis City Directory and Yearbooks Collection; The Leo Baeck Institute Archives of German-speaking Jewry Leo Baeck Institute Archives; and the Boston Public Library.

Resources include among many things books on surname origins, vital statistics, parish records, census records, passenger lists of vessels, and other historical and biographical documents, as well as individual volumes contributed by thousands of users from around the world. Most of the genealogy books are published in English but there are numerous exceptions.

I searched the “Texts” section of The Internet Archive for the word “genealogy” and found 128,198 results. By searching in “Texts,” I was able to ignore the “hits” found on the Internet and in other sources. That’s not a definitive answer as the word “genealogy” obviously will exist more than once in many books. However, it does provide a rough idea of the popularity of the word in The Internet Archives’ books, magazines, and other texts. Whatever the true number, there must be thousands of genealogy books available today on The Internet Archive, and the number is growing rapidly.

The Internet Archive also has scanned and digitized the U.S. Census records from 1790 through 1930. Unlike the commercial providers of census data, the versions provided by The Internet Archive have not been indexed. They are useful only if you already know where to look for your ancestors. Small towns can easily be searched one page at a time while cities probably are best searched if you already know the enumeration districts involved.

Also unlike the commercial providers of census data, the census information on The Internet Archive is available free of charge to everyone. However, the Internet Archive version has not been indexed.

In fact, everything on The Internet Archive is free. There is never a charge for anything on The Internet Archive. As a non-profit, however, the organization does accept donations which are tax-free to Americans.

In a casual search, I found all sorts of material of interest to genealogists on The Internet Archive, including these:

Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary war

Polk Lafayette, Indiana, city directory (Volume yr. 1891)

Preakness and the Preakness Reformed church, Passaic County, New Jersey: a history, 1695-1902, with genealogical notes, the records of the church and tombstone inscriptions

The history of ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut: comprising the present towns of Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, and Newington, and of Glastonbury prior to its incorporation in 1693: from date of earliest settlement until the present time (Volume 1,pt.2)

Ziegler Genealogy by John A. M. Ziegler

Genealogy of the Beaudry Family of Northern Ontario and Relatives

Morse genealogy by Morse & Leavett

Genealogy of the Spotswood family in Scotland and Virginia

The Lenher family: a genealogy by Sarah Marion Lenher

The above is only a tiny fraction of the many books available free of charge on The Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive isn’t perfect, but it does provide a great resource for genealogists, historians, and others. If you are looking for information about your family tree, I’d suggest that you check out The Internet Archive at You can read about the Internet Archive’s genealogy collection at

If you are interested in The Harmon Genealogy, comprising all branches in New England, go to

Caution: This book is great; but, like most genealogy books, it does contain a few errors. Author Artemas C. Harmon did a very good job of research, but his work was not perfect.

Back to the Top

Book Reviews

The Romanovs: 1613-1913

51g4-d%2B4NZLBy Simon Sebag Montefiore published 2016 by Orion Publishing Co,ISBN978 0 297 852667 (available at Whitcoulls)

I bought this book when I noticed it in Paper Plus, and although this is not a light read (in either sense), 745 pages including 100 of bibliography and references, I enjoyed it and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in history.  An account of the dynasty which turned a poor and backward principality on the edge of Europe into an empire stretching from the Baltic to Alaska, it’s a tale of excess, cruelty, madness and incompetence, with only occasional improvement.   The Tsar was a ruler appointed by God, who apparently approved of rulers such as these: -

“Peter the Great tortured his own son to death while making Russia an empire, and dominated his court with a dining club notable for compulsory drunkenness, naked dwarfs and fancy dress. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband (who was murdered soon afterward), enjoyed affairs with a series of young male favorites, conquered Ukraine and fascinated Europe. Paul I was strangled by courtiers backed by his own son, Alexander I, who in turn faced Napoleon’s invasion and the burning of Moscow, then went on to take Paris.”

To anybody with our modern sensibilities the wonder is not that they were overthrown, but that it took so long.  Although I have no particular interest in Russian history, seeing the world from the perspective of the Tsars gave me fresh insights into the world of the Napoleanic wars and Europe in the time before the First World War, and a fresh understanding of the USSR and Putin’s Russia.

Robert Barnes

Shapely Ankle Preferr'd

by Francesca Beauman, published by Chatto & Windus, Random House 2011, ISBN978 070 118170 3 and I don't know how and where I acquired it

ShapelyAnkleThis book is subtitled "A History of the Lonely Hearts Ad 1695 - 2010"

I have a great aunt way out on my family tree who, after a year or two of becoming a widow and living out in the backblocks of Northland, New Zealand, acquired a second husband by way of a judiciously placed advertisement looking for a suitable candidate to ease her loneliness. Unfortunately for her, after eventually acquiring a daughter of the successful candidate, she discovered that he had carelessly forgotten to dispose of a previous wife. This caused great family embarrassment and this marriage was conveniently annulled and swept under the carpet, never to be revealed. In fact, the resultant daughter did not know of this family problem until, as an adult, she tried to apply for a passport. Then I came along wanting to write the family history and asked too many questions and the marriage was revealed by a estranged relative. Of course, I diplomatically failed to mention this marriage in my family history.

I was surprised to hear that these advertisements were used in New Zealand although, just recently, I found that my great grandfather had also resorted to this method of courtship.

This book is a very readable history of an old method for advertising for love which is over three hundred years and now replaced by Tinder and other such digital websites.  It covers the whole gambit from advertising for mistresses in the1700s, criminal scams of the 1890s and the sad appeals of war widows. It shows how humans picked their mates and is a startling history of dating, marriage and society over three hundred years.

This book is another one that helps to understand the societies of the 1700s through to the 1900s and may explain one or two mysteries in your family history. How did your ancestors meet?

I recommend this book.

Peter Nash


by Craig Taylor, published by Granta Books, ISBN 978 1 84708 329 6 and was purchased in London

MyLondonThis book is subtitled "The Days and Nights of London as told by those who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it, and Long for it".

I have two children who live in London. I have visited London many times over the years and spent two weeks there in June last year. This time my wife and I kept away from the tourist traps and visited many places that were recommended by our children. We ate at many back street cafes and pubs as well as the high class restaurants. We travelled many suburban streets in the search for a decent cup of coffee and found few - all were operated by New Zealanders. We lived in small hotels and Bed and Breakfast places. This last trip was the first visit that I enjoyed; every other left me with bad feelings and experiences.

This book is a gem and a must read for those who intend to travel to London or have experienced a visit. To quote a critic - "Taylor's London is an inspiring feat of oral history condensed from more than 200 interviews he conducted with London residents mostly...." He interviews taxi drivers, the voice of the London Underground, a plumber, an urban planner, a street cleaner etc etc. All give their personal experiences and feelings for the metropolis. Each interview is short and pithy allowing for a nibble here and a nibble there rather than a front to back read.

This book is for travellers as well as Londoners. You get a full picture not the cleansed version that you tend to see as a tourist.

Peter Nash

LABOUR, The NZ Labour Party 1916-2016

by Peter Franks & Jim McAloon published by Victoria University Press, ISBN 978 1 77656 074 5 and was purchased at Whitcoulls.

NZLabourIn a past life I was heavily involved in New Zealand unions and politics. I can say "I was there when...." for many of the events experienced by the Labour Party in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. I was never in the front ranks but enjoyed the back room duties and experienced the policy developments of many of the now accepted social norms but were socially unacceptable way back when... such as homosexual law reform, equal pay for women, nuclear free NZ, MMP to name a few.

This history starts in very early NZ and explores the development of socialistic and radical ideas before the Labour Party was formed. These ideas have now become fundamental to the New Zealand lifestyle but were at first considered too radical for the class-based system we had.

This book is a readable history and well worth a read to realise how far our society has developed from that of our great grandfathers and grandfathers. It is a book to that adds to our understanding of the lifestyles our ancestors "enjoyed".

I recommend this book even though my name doesn't appear anywhere in it.


Peter Nash

Notice that despite what I said in previous newsletters I have managed to read at least three books. But I cannot resist stating that I have another two reviews for next month. After saying that I can leave this section feeling most sanctimonious.

In conclusion

A Bit of Light Relief

Was this our earliest ancestor?  You won’t find it in your family album, but a tiny prehistoric creature with a bag-like body, a huge mouth and no anus has become the best candidate yet for our earliest known ancestor. Reported from Guardian Science, the blog that brought it to our attention suggested that such a creature with a huge mouth and no anus must have been the origin of management.  


Advertising with FamNet

If your organisation is not a group subscriber then there will be a charge for advertising events and services, which must be paid for before publication. Charges start at $NZ25 for a basic flier, and increase for more elaborate presentations. Like everyone else we need funds to help keep FamNet going. Fees are very minimal. If your organisation paid a yearly subscription you can have all the advertising you want all year round in the Group News section. Your group could be anywhere in the world, not just in New Zealand. The editor will continue to exercise discretion for free events.

To Unsubscribe, Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information

If you have problems with this page you can email us directly but the page is self-explanatory.

Copyright (Waiver)

Feel free to redistribute this newsletter. If you publish a newsletter yourself you may include material from this newsletter in yours provided that you acknowledge its source and include the FamNet URL.

Back to the Top