Family History: New Zealand sheep farmers records has published an unusual yet important data set: records of New Zealand sheep farmers between 1881 and 1918 (“Herd the one about the New Zealand sheep farmer?”).

This searchable database comprises 91,842 records compiled from the Annual Sheep Returns, which were undertaken by stock inspectors around the country for the House of Representatives. They were, more or less, national sheep counts – but their importance extends far beyond agriculture. In fact, the records could be used as a potential census substitute, having been compiled from selected years – 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1918 – in order to help offset the absence of surviving early censuses in New Zealand.

Read more here.

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