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Callaghans: Portrait of a Colonial Family
The Callaghans—parents John and Ellen, children Maggie, John Lawrence and Michael—were a colonial Waikato family of Irish heritage. Over many years, their descendent Teresa O’Reilly has combed through archives, diaries and public records to piece together the family’s story. This type of research, known as genealogy, is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand and across the world. As more people research their own backgrounds, how we think about family pasts is changing. It is now accepted that understanding our personal origins can help us learn more about who we are and the society we live in.
Mementoes, photographs and documents Teresa has collected give a rare glimpse at the lives and world of the Callaghans. Selected artworks evoke connected people and places, while objects from the museum’s collection illustrate the material culture of colonial society. By putting the story of a Waikato family in cultural and historical context, The Callaghans: Portrait of a Colonial Family reveals how genealogically-inspired history can be rewarding on both private and public levels.