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Securing the past for everyone

> Securing the past for everyone

>

6 September 2011

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> CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Mayor Bob Parker today launched a new digitization project spearheaded by Archives New Zealand in Christchurch and FamilySearch, a genealogy website. The project will make digitised images of wills and probate records for Christchurch, the West Coast and Timaru available online, free to the public.


> The records currently identified for including in the project range between 1855 and 1998. The nearly 2 million records will take up to five years to scan and are being captured digitally by Family Search and Archives New Zealand volunteers. The first records to be digitized are the 35,121 files from the Timaru High Court.

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> Christchurch Regional Archivist Chris Adam says Archives New Zealand is committed to moving its services online to provide better and more equitable access to a valuable national and community resource.

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> “As part of this transformation we aim to have 90 percent of our high use paper archives digitised and available online by 2018,” Chris Adam says. “Working with FamilySearch to digitise the probates will help us achieve this goal.”

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> Michael Higgins, FamilySearch's Pacific Area Manager says these Canterbury's historical records are a vital legacy for this and future generations.

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> "We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with our friends at Archives New Zealand to rebuild and preserve these historical foundations of our region."

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> Chris Adam explains that the Christchurch project follows on from the work already underway in Wellington national office where digitization of its probate records has begun.

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> “For the past two years we have worked in partnership with FamilySearch to have these records digitised and made freely available to the public. Digitising the Canterbury and Westland probate files is the first extension of this project outside of Wellington.

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> “While this has been planned for some while, the timing has been determined by the Canterbury earthquakes; these have highlighted the importance and fragility of our documentary heritage.

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> “The probates constitute the single most used record held by the Christchurch office and account for well over half of the items requested by researchers.”

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> Transferred to the Christchurch office from the High Courts in Timaru, Christchurch, and Greymouth the records include all the surviving probate files from Canterbury and Westland.

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> The project is expected to last five years, with the first of an estimated 1,879,280 images available free of charge on the FamilySearch website from mid to late 2012.

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> FamilySearch is a genealogical organisation funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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> - END -

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