Modern tools transform family history research
By YVONNE AIREY
HuttNews | Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Cutting edge genealogy: Hutt Valley Genealogy Life Member Lynly Yates and long-serving secretary Joan Bray cut the cake to mark 30 years of research to track lost relatives.
From hours spent poring over microfiche, dry books and stacks of early newspapers to the online indexes of the computer age, the Hutt Valley branch of the Society of Genealogists has seen huge changes in research techniques in its own 30-year history.
The branch celebrated its 1983 founding at its annual meeting at Petone this month. Now sharing resources with the Petone Library, the complex is the busy centre of the Hutt's heritage and historic research activities.
The branch has made a huge contribution to the growing awareness of local heritage and family history, most recently with the Hutt Valley Biographical Index and Genealogies (HBIG) website by members Lynly Yates and Dawn Chambers.
Members have also played their part in giving many hours of volunteer time to enable the Hutt Valley cemetery records to be put online.
Member Ian Fyfe is researching the names of all those buried at the former Knox Church historic graveyard in High St (he welcomes any input from the public).
The Hutt Valley branch held its first meeting in 1983 in a room at Chilton St James School, before moving to the St James Church Hall as interest grew and then on to the bridge club at Avalon, before moving to Petone. In pre-computer days meetings, even in the depth of winter, would attract more than 100 members to listen to speakers and seek help with their own research. A long serving branch secretary Joan Bray joined in 1988 and recalls those days before emails and computers.
"You bought an International Reply Coupon (IRC) and posted a letter and waited and hoped for a response." In 1990 microfiche came out and the online release of the 1881 English Census and its free availability opened the floodgates for many researchers.
The branch has produced many who have gone on to take a leading part in genealogy nationally, including two New Zealand presidents in Heather Webber and Graeme Constable. Convener Alistair Hardy and secretary Terry Stock were both reappointed at the annual meeting.