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New Zealand Studies: A Guide to Bibliographic Resources

6. Manuscripts

6. Manuscripts

The very considerable importance of primary materials in New Zealand studies led in the 1950s, when studies in New Zealand history and literature first began to acquire legitimacy in the universities, to a sense of urgency for the creation of appropriate bibliographic approaches to manuscripts and archives both in overseas and New Zealand repositories.

For the records outside New Zealand the major guide is a project conceived at that time, Phyllis Mander-Jones's Manuscripts in the British Isles Relating to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific (1972). This guide book includes both archives and manuscripts but is acknowledged by its compiler to be less than comprehensive in three areas. She notes, first, that 'Hand drawn maps, drawings and paintings here received a brief reference only when found associated with handwritten or typewritten documents'. Second, for private papers and business records it was 'decided not to follow up every lead but to leave this field to future research'. Some further research has already produced Charles A. Jones's Britain and the Dominions: a Guide to Business and Related Records in the United Kingdom Concerning Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa (1978). The much more page 16 difficult area requiring 'future research' is that of private papers not held by public repositories in the United Kingdom.

Another source, closely related to Mander-Jones, is the Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook, an index and guide to the many thousands of feet of microfilm created by the project's staff as it followed in Mander-Jones's footsteps. Since 1972 the Project has issued seven volumes of the Handbook, and these are, for researchers in New Zealand and Australia, an essential supplement to Mander-Jones.

The archive resources outside the United Kingdom are being documented by the International Council on Archives's series of 'Guides to the Sources for the History of the Nations'. In series 3, covering North Africa, Asia and Oceania, volumes have been published on France (which includes the manuscripts in the Bibliotheque Nationale) in 1981, and Scandinavia 1980-81. French records relating to New Zealand were listed by Marchant in 1962 and 1963, and more recently and in greater detail by Isabel Ollivier in a two part article in the Turnbull Library Record in 1983.

That concern in the 1950s for the documentation of primary sources, alluded to earlier, was manifested in New Zealand by the creation of an Archives Committee of the New Zealand Library Association (NZLA) in 1951. By 1955, the Committee had persuaded the NZLA to commit itself to a union catalogue of manuscripts in New Zealand libraries and the Alexander Turnbull Library agreed to take responsibility for maintaining a central card catalogue and in due course to publish the catalogue. The first interim list of libraries' reports was issued in 1958. In 1968 and 1969 the two volume Union Catalogue of New Zealand and Pacific Manuscripts in New Zealand Libraries was published by the Turnbull. Part I (1968) consisted of some 1,500 notifications from 18 institutions, Part II (1969) of 2,000 entries from the Turnbull Library. Public archives were 'at the moment' excluded, as were manuscripts unrelated to New Zealand or Pacific subjects, but the introduction looked forward to a wider scope for future editions. In the mid 1970s the project was reviewed and a decision made to abandon the standard library catalogue card format and to adopt a format similar to the Guide to Collections of Manuscripts Relating to Australia, to add nominal, geographical and subject indexes, and more important, to include public archives and the holdings of museums, historical societies and private individuals, in order to create 'a comprehensive guide page 17 to New Zealand's national resources of manuscripts and archives'. The first issue of the new publication, the National Register of Archives and Manuscripts in New Zealand (NRAM), appeared as an instalment of 250 entries, with indexes, in early 1979. Six parts, with cumulated indexes, have now been issued, and the first volume of 1,000 entries is available on microfiche. Thirty seven institutions have reported 1,500 entries.

Coverage, at this early stage, is uneven. Some institutions have reported all their holdings; some have reported only a selection of acquisitions since 1979. The National Register still needs to be used as a supplement to the Union Catalogue of 1968-69. Reporting from the big four institutions (National Archives, Turnbull, Hocken, and Auckland Institute) still represents only a small percentage of their holdings. The Turnbull Library has, since 1967, reported new acquisitions of manuscripts very fully in the Turnbull Library Record; other institutions have in recent years recorded new acquisitions selectively in Archifacts, the journal of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ).

The major gap is in the reporting of public archives. A new administration at the National Archives has now concluded that the format of NRAM is unsuitable for reporting public archives in its possession and decided in 1983 to submit records only for their holdings of non-public archives and manuscripts.

Archives New Zealand: A Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga and Western Samoa, listing some 155 institutions, was compiled by Frank Rogers and issued early in 1985.