A number of personal transcription projects have been appearing on the Internet over the past year providing access to various aspects of New Zealand history. By and large the sites contain small scale transcriptions from Directories, Ships Lists and cemeteries to military lists. There are no master indexes here and often no single search that immediately pops up a list of possible hits. Google, however, allows a search to be aimed directly at a specific URL (uniform resource locator, the web address line ) and its subdirectories.
Helen’s Page of New Zealand History and Using Google Site Search
This site (Fig. 1) is focused on Wellington and the lower North Island. It includes well over 100 individual transcriptions grouped in categories like: directories, passenger lists, cemeteries, employment, military, schools and towns. This isn’t all of them and that is why Google is so important in situations like this. Most of us want to at least do a surname or perhaps a place search and Helen’s resources, though wonderful, seem far too extensive to work with in the hopes of accidentally finding something useful
Google’s “Advanced Search” tool will quickly teach researchers the required search syntax, and once learned the search can be written directly. First copy the URL from the address bar along the top of the site that needs to be searched, in this case Helen’s History. Open up another tab for Google and click on the “advanced search” link to the right of the search box. At the bottom of the advanced box under “need more tools?” is the box for “Search within a site or domain”. Paste in Helen’s URL and then up in the usual box type in a surname, for example “Pye”. (Fig. 2) This search turned up 6 results and each of them can now be accessed directly. (Fig. 3)
Look at what is now sitting in the Google search box “Pye site:http://www.angelfire.com/az/nzgenweb/” . (Fig. 4) The phrase “site:” is part of the search syntax as much as is “-” or “+” and once comfortable with it, a researcher can use it directly rather than calling up the advanced search to build it. Helen’s Page that was initially a dense thicket of data seemingly only open to hard slogging page by page is now searchable by any surname, place name or keyword or any combination.
Once the page is called up there is generally a mass of names and this type of search does not jump to any of the hits. Here the browser’s “find on this page” (Fig. 5) tool is put to use. Generally found in the edit menu, click on the find tool and type in the surname or keyword that is the target of the search. If there is more than one occurrence the “next” button of the “find” box will jump to that. The combination of the two search systems built into the standard tools makes these personal sites searchable and useable.
Shadows of Time
This site is another example (Fig. 6) of a personal site full of small scale transcription projects. The site contains almost 100,000 individual names in the databases and there is an effective pictorial menu to access them. The above technique will search this site but the site itself offers a search system that seems a bit more thorough. Of particular interest is the transcripts of the “Cyclodpedia of New Zealand 1897” for Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough and Westland. Even if there is no direct ancestor in this database many of the listings are links to full articles that shed a great deal of light on New Zealand life coming up to the turn of the century. Other records include: military pensions, New Zealand Wars 1860-70, Dominion Post Births & Deaths, Shipping Index and school records to name a few.
Looking in the Corners of the Internet
These personal transcription projects have been created by dedicated people who are willing to share their work. Many of them are the type of document that has not been filmed by FamilySearch and will not likely be on their “to do” list. Nevertheless they are a valuable source of information and can be readily researched with the correct tools.