Family History – Church and Social Organisation Resources

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Church histories and records can contain background information about life in an area at a particular period of history, as well as details of clergy associated with it. The resources may not list details on specific people, but can be of use to fill in the background of your ancestors' lives.

Church histories

Church histories can contain background information about life in a particular geographic area at a particular period of history, as well as photos of a particular church and details of clergy associated with it.

Most denominations have published centennial church histories. The Aotearoa New Zealand Centre has histories from throughout New Zealand but concentrates on works for the Canterbury area. (These are currently unavailable)

Search the following subject headings to find general resources on churches and clergy in Canterbury:

Church Registers

The Family History Centre, Central Library Manchester holds extensive but not comprehensive card transcripts of baptism, burial and marriage registers from local churches.

General information about Church Registers.

Information about specific denominations

Anglican Church

For a full list of Anglican histories in Christchurch check the subject heading: Church of England - New Zealand - Christchurch.

Two larger works celebrating the centennials of the various Anglican dioceses are:

Both include appendices which give the histories of the various parishes within the diocese. If the name of the officiating priest cannot be deciphered these may help.

The above are 'Occasional papers of the Archives Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch'. They contain biographical information about members of the clergy during the H. J. C. Harper and Churchill Julius episcopates. The works explain where clergymen were born and educated, what posts they held and where they died.

See also:

The Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican Clergy in the Pacific gives biographical information on clergy and deaconesses of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, Polynesia, and Melanesia. Details of spouses are also included. For privacy reasons the cut-off date is an ordination date in 1930 and no living people are included.

Anglican Church Archives

The collection of Anglican Archives includes local parish histories and the periodicals New Zealand church news and Church news. See Anglican Archives for information on their resources and contact details.

Methodist Church

Check the subject heading: Methodist Church - New Zealand - Christchurch

For a full list of church histories for Methodist churches in Christchurch check the subject heading: Methodist Church - New Zealand - Christchurch History

W. Morley, History of Methodism in New Zealand
Published in 1900 this book has sections on the different provinces and the circuits (parishes) within the provinces. There are brief histories of the circuits and mini-biographies of clergymen, with photographs of churches, school and clergymen.

Other books which contain useful background information are:

Methodist Church Archives

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Hospital corner, Christchurch [1858]
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Hospital corner, Christchurch [1858]
At the Christchurch Methodist Archives there are records relating to churches, church members and Sunday schools as well as some baptismal and marriage registers and a collection of church newspapers.

Presbyterian Church

Check the subject heading: Presbyterian Church - New Zealand - Christchurch

For a full list of church histories for Presbyterian churches in Christchurch check the subject heading: Presbyterian Church - New Zealand - Christchurch - History.

Presbyterian Church Archives

Contact the Presbyterian Church Archives for further information.

Roman Catholic Church

Opening of the Roman Catholic church at Oaro, Hundalee [1906]
Opening of the Roman Catholic church at Oaro, Hundalee [1906]
For a full list of Catholic church histories in Christchurch check the subject heading: Catholic Church - New Zealand - Christchurch

For a list of Canterbury Catholic church histories check the subject heading: Catholic Church - New Zealand - Canterbury

M. O'Meeghan, Held firm by faith
The history of the Roman Catholic diocese of Christchurch. The index names many priests whose names appear in baptisms, marriages and burial registers.

Baptism index [electronic resource] / Catholic Diocese of Christchurch
This Database contains baptism details for individuals baptised in the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch before 31 December 1904. This CD is an index only and should be used as a finding tool aid.

As a general rule, registers of baptisms, marriages and burials are held by the local parishes. In the archives at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament there are early baptisms for Akaroa, Lyttelton and Banks Peninsula, and for Shands Track. Shands Track records were for people from the Rangitata River to Cheviot with the exception of the Christchurch area.

Records of homes for orphans and the aged are held by the institution who runs them or the religious orders which are in charge. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Christchurch does not hold published material.

Roman Catholic Archives

An appointment can be made to visit the Roman Catholic archives. Most information is provided free of charge.

Salvation Army

A Salvation Army worker provides tea for firemen and volunteers battling the fire
A Salvation Army worker provides tea for firemen and volunteers battling the fire

The Salvation Army Archives will make available historical information about people who have been in their care for whatever reason.

They can also provide some information regarding those who have been an officer or otherwise of some note in the Salvation Army, and you may find an obituary in the army’s periodical, the War cry, which is held at the Salvation Army headquarters in Wellington.

Further details, including research fees and contact details, are provided on their website.

Lodge records

Prior to the establishment of social welfare, people belonged to lodges which took sums of money off them when they were well and in work, and gave financial and emotional support when they were ill.

Records of various lodges survive in archives collections throughout the country. Check the The Community Archive to locate records for a specific lodge. They can often provide lists of members, details about those members, and minutes discussing lodge business.

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