Friday's Faces from the Past: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Karen Kalopulu Family History Lock-in

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This year we are celebrating a decade of lock-ins from when the idea first came to the then Family History Librarian, Karen Kalopulu.

Back in 2004 Karen Kalopulu proposed the idea to library management saying that, although the ‘concept is new to libraries in New Zealand’ there are ‘many libraries in United States of America which have strong family history collections hold[ing] very successful lock-ins’.

Since Karen sadly passed away in 2009, the lock-ins have continued under the leadership of Family History Librarian Seonaid Lewis.

Family historians and aspiring family historians start arriving during the afternoon of the last Friday of August, working overnight on their family histories and helping other people with theirs, until leaving at 8am the next day.

The lock-ins have been a collaboration between Auckland Libraries and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG), who have supported this venture right from the very beginning with their volunteers contributing to the expert knowledge available on the night. The event has proven to be great fun, we have all learnt so much from each other and have made some good friends along the way.

There are a handful of customers and NZSG volunteers who were at that first lock-in and are still coming today.

The inaugural Lock-in group, 2005.

Geraldene O’Reilly, the NZSG president of the Irish Interest group, has attended every single one of the lock-ins, helping many a fledgling search their Irish ancestry.

Geraldene O'Reilly busy at work.
The format Karen started has carried on, with a few unavoidable tweaks along the way.

Before the evening kicks off at 8pm there are the options of a tour of the Central Auckland Research by Seonaid and then a seminar on some subject, whether it’s Scottish family history or, as it is this year, beginning your New Zealand family history.

The night begins with Seonaid leading a 'meet and greet' and then the library staff  NZSG volunteers share their areas of specialty.
A happy researcher!

We then hit the computers, Microfilm readers and books and the momentum continues. Flagging souls help themselves to coffee and snacks in the library atrium and we are all revived with pizza at midnight.

Some succumb to a nap, in a cosy nook but it is amazing, with kindred family historians around and lots to share and learn, how the buzz keeps you going.

There have been many eureka moments:

I finally found something that could possibly lead to more information on my maternal grandmother's birth - the first really good lead in 25 years!

Came away with some exciting information it was certainly well worth it.
Can't wait till the next one.

I got so much information on the night that I am going flat out working out what I need to do next.

I managed to stay awake all night much to my surprise - the time seemed to go so fast.  I found a really good skeleton in my mother's side of the family so was very happy.

As Karen said in her proposal, back in 2004, ‘a family history lock-in is an opportunity to promote the Auckland City Library and it’s family history collection in an innovative way and provide a platform for Auckland City Libraries to work collaboratively with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists on a venture that both organisations are passionate and enthusiastic about.’

We are looking forward to more great research and sharing in August 2014.


Thriller Thursday: New Zealand Family History Month starts tomorrow!

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Months of planning and family history month is here tomorrow!

August will be an extremely busy month at Auckland Libraries for family historians.

Have a look at what we have planned for NZ Family History Month at Auckland Libraries:

Family History Month highlights include "The Speaker Series" of more than 122 events where specialist staff travel around the region delivering a wide variety of different topics such as:

  • Auckland Libraries family history eResources;
  • Beginners guide to Ancestry;
  • Beginners guide to FindMyPast; 
  • Beginning your family history;
  • Brick walls: tips and tricks to help solve your family history puzzle; 
  • British Newspaper Archive; 
  • Captives of the Kaiser: Researching Prisoners of War during the First World War;
  • Doing family history: a journey to Matakana; 
  • Family history roadshow; 
  • Hospital records; 
  • Military: The use of the official histories; 
  • Newspapers and magazines for family history; 
  • Pacific Island resources;
  • Passenger lists and immigration; 
  • Poor law; 
  • Probate and wills; 
  • Question and answer sessions; 
  • Researching First World War records; 
  • Researching your Irish ancestry; 
  • Searching for your family on the internet; 
  • Whakapapa storytime; 
  • Whakapapa for adults; 
  • Whakapapa for rangatahi (children)

- several libraries are having multiple events in one day . . . . .
and there are other events including: a youth-focussed "Who do you think Dawson Road is?" at Tupu Youth Library

There are weekly "family history lunchtime sessions" at Central Library instead of the usual fortnightly sessions, themed to commemorate the beginning of the First World War.
And as usual we close Family History Month with the 10th annual Karen Kalopulu Family History Lock-in
where customers are locked in to our Research Library overnight to research their family history all night long!

The Lock-In is great for new researchers and "old-hands" alike - and also an exciting extension for those of you who have already been attending our quarterly Family History Club days.

Its going to be a fun-filled packed month!

Hope to see some of you around and about at our workshops and lectures! . . . bookings at the host library!


Society Saturday:- Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS)

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Six steps to beginning your own One-Name Study 

by Anne Brady, guest blogger 

Guild of One-Name Studies

A One-Name Study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname (and its variants), as opposed to a particular pedigree or a particular descendancy. 

The object is to discover things about the actual surname and the people who have held it.

Step One Is it already being done?

Check or Google your surname

Step Two Find out more about the name

  • How big a study will it be?
    Estimate by using the totals from the 1881 English census:
    - 1-30 Tiny (T)
    - 30-300 Small (S)
    - 300-3000 Medium (M)
    - 3000-30,000 Large (L)
    - 30,000-300,000 (XXL)
Multiplying the number in this census by 10 will give a very approximate count of the total (English) BDMs 1837-2006.

  • Variants and Deviants
    A VARIANT is an alternate spelling used by individuals themselves, or is one used consistently in official documents.
    DEVIANTS are typos, misreadings of handwriting and any other spelling that is not a true variant, it occurs only randomly.

    How many variants and deviants are there? Check the IGI (International Genealogical Index) for a good overview, but remember that you will continue to find more.

Step Three Make some decisions

How will you store and record your research? This will be influenced by the size of your study – from Tiny up to XXL

  • Family History program?
  • Spreadsheets – Excel, Access (e.g. Custodian)?
  • All info on one spreadsheet, or broken down by e.g. type of record, country?
  • How will you cope with different spellings?
  • How far down the line will you take females who marry out of the name?
  • Paperwork or scans
  • Filing system?
  • Odd bits of information?

Step Four
Setting up and getting organised

  • Make a list of known variants/deviants. Keep a printout of your list with you at all times, and amend it whenever you find more possibilities
  • Once you have a basic list, work out how few online searches you can manage with careful use of wildcards (BL*X*G, BL*C*G etc) and record them
  • Set up a new family file in your family history program
  • Copy across any data you currently have on that name
  • Create whatever spreadsheets you have decided to use. Remember to input from large to small, eg YYYYMMDD, or Country/County/Parish to make sorting and searching easier.

The FIRST spreadsheet should be your research log

Fields I use on my log: Date searched / Repository / Category / Search Type / Website / Record Title / URL/Catalogue Ref / Country/County / Years searched / Names checked / Result / Notes
  • Set up files and folders, both hard-copy and on your PC. Mine are organised by place in descending size order, then by type of record and/or repository. (E.g. UK-ENG-KENT- Cemeteries, Census, Certificates, Directories, Houses, Newspapers, Probate, etc.) Or look at the Family Roots organiser system at
  • Draw up a table of the total census records across all available websites for your name, as not all will be found in one place thanks to the huge variety of transcribing errors. You may find a separate table for each main variant is useful.
Census search results for the name Beachcroft across the
major genealogy websites - demonstrates the variation
of results you will find across them all

  • If you don’t already have a good backup system in place, set one up NOW
  • Create a list of the order you plan to search the records in
  • Label a folder with ‘To Do’ and keep a separate sheet for each Research Repository, or keep a list in a Word document folder

Step Five - 
Join the Guild of One Name Studies at (in order to save lots of money).

Discounts on subscriptions / other offers for different sites:
  • Findmypast – 10%
  • Lost Cousins – 20%
  • The Genealogist (Diamond Subscription) - GBP40 off
  • Various other short-term offers are also made
  • Use GOONS Marriage, Probate and Scottish indexes; the Wiki; join the Forum and/or the Bulletin Board; get a mentor
  • (Use, a free, public-access website to find the church for many marriages)
Do a Pharos course online about Beginning One Name Studies

Maximise your use of Family Search. If you aren’t sure how to get the best out of it, go to the ‘Learn’ tab and watch some of their videos

In Freebmd download records, and set up saved searches

Trawl Facebook, Youtube and Ebay, look through Gutenberg and Google free books ,

Use other Google products such as alerts, blogs, images, documents & news at

Remember other search engines such as Mocavo at

Use to find lots of websites specific to your county and parish. 

And of course never forget Cyndis List . . .

Search Rootsweb message boards and lists at
Browse Wikitree
Use free webinars and blogs to learn how to research new areas, gather lots of tips and hear of new websites and programs to try, e.g.

Make full use of the Auckland Libraries & New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) resources - What about the many free sites that are available at one or both places - have you tried

Have you looked at the bookshelves, the fiche or CD drawers? Have you used the library catalogue to find what there is in any area? Set up Google alerts for your names and areas of interest.

Join Lost Cousins and add the families you find on the specified census pages as ‘One Name Study’ relationships.

Use pay-per-view / subscription sites which allow use of their indexes for free. Sign up for their newsletters so that you know when they are having free weekends for some of their datasets.

Step Six


About Anne Brady
Anne is the New Zealand representative for the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS and a member of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists NZSG).

Anne spoke about One-Name Studies to our audience at Central Library for our family history lunchtime series talks, that Auckland Libraries holds here fortnightly on Wednesdays between February and November. 

She very kindly permitted us to post her informative handout notes here on the Kintalk blog.

Happy hunting