Research guides

Using Papers Past for your family history

The National Library website Papers Past is a fabulous place to dig around for information about people living between the 1840s and 1940s, and there are a growing number of Auckland regional newspapers, including the New Zealand Herald up to 1884, on the site. You can search by date, region or newspaper title.  

Screenshot showing the Auckland newspapers available on Papers Past

It’s a full text website, and when it brings up the article it highlights the search terms you have used. This can be particularly useful if the information is buried in a long, chatty article. 

Rather than using the basic search on the homepage, here are a few tips on using the more search options feature that allow you to specify the settings under the optional filters. This means you will get more relevant search results.

Two easy changes to make are:

  • increase the number of results per page from the default of 10 to 100
  • tick the box show preview images; this allows you to visually preview some of the content for each result.

To be even more specific, make these two additional changes:

  • set a date range to search, for example January 01, 1900 to December 31, 1910
  • choose one or more newspapers to search by using the Ctrl key - hold it down while you highlight a title from the list rather than search every newspaper in the website.

>>Search Papers Past


Finding newspaper monthly summaries

In 1859, two Auckland newspapers started producing ‘monthly summaries’, summarising the most important national and local news printed in the previous month’s issues. They were designed for the colonists to send home.

Monthly summaries appear in the following newspapers:

  • Daily Southern Cross 1859-1876 (paper ceased in 1876)
  • New Zealander 1859-1866 (paper ceased in 1866)
  • New Zealand Herald 1866-1907 (last monthly summary produced).

In addition to news items, the summary includes inwards and outwards shipping and passenger lists, birth, death and marriage notices and obituaries.

The summaries were initially printed before or after the main news pages of the issue, then from the 1890s were usually a separate supplement. Titles vary, but include: Our home letter, Mail summary, Monthly summary and Local summary.

The date on which the summary appeared varied each month. You can check the dates in the Monthly summaries publication (PDF, 4MB) compiled by Auckland Libraries staff in the 1990s.

After you have found the date, use the Browse function of Papers Past to find the relevant issue.

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