Start with a large multi-storied building.
There are long, quiet halls with elevators that quietly do their business and an aroma of old records spanning time and place. Genealogists in the building converse, usually in hushed tones. Some are searching for clues to solve a mystery. Others are, as efficiently as possible, organizing documents and books from some long ago era to help the searchers discover information pertaining to that mystery. So where is this remarkable place? The New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, the place for New Jersey genealogy.
While libraries are good places for family history researchers, they don’t usually have the original genealogical documents. But the New Jersey genealogy Archives are special. I revel in the old leather bound legal documents so carefully stored on their shelves. There is challenge and fun in finding odd information for your ancestor search. Genealogists in New Jersey are fortunate to have rather easy access to so many treasured records.
The New Jersey State Archives has the usual items for which New Jersey genealogists are looking: original New Jersey birth, marriage and death records. A plus for New Jersey genealogy researchers is that the state began keeping vital records in 1848 and many of these records are here on microfilm. Recently, the Archives were tasked with the responsibility of searching and certifying vital records older than 100 years with records to be added every year.
Remember, however, that New Jersey is New Jersey and vital records may be found on many government levels: county, township or municipal. In some counties, marriage records can go back to before 1800. From 1743-1886, divorces were granted by legislative act or decree of the Chancery Court.
Archives, however, are more than the usual list of records in the New Jersey genealogy search. The New Jersey State Archives are a good place to start an ancestor search before beginning genealogical detective work at county and local government offices. That’s because while genealogists in New Jersey will find the usual birth, marriage and death records in these Archives, you will also find court, estate, tax ratables from 1768-1846, and the New Jersey State Census taken every ten years from 1855-1915. In these Archives, genealogists in New Jersey need to dig deep AND not expect everything to be indexed.
These are some of the additional New Jersey genealogical records in the New Jersey Archive files that have piqued my interest:
- Camden city (Glouster County), an 1840 order relating to seizure and sale of hogs.
- Centre township (Camden County), 1923 dog licenses.
- Centre township (Camden County), 1913-1921 Custodian of School Moneys financial Record Book.
- Clayton township (Glouster County), 1858-1880 voter lists.
- Gloucester township (Glouster County), 1747-1808 Township Committee Minutes.
- Harrington township (Bergen County), 1877-1906 Tax Collector’s Office (Clerk’s Office) Tax Sale Records.
- Hoboken city (Hudson County), 1868-1939 Police Department Arrest Records.
- Millville city (Cumberland County), 1866-1915 Clerk’s Office Vital Records.
- New Hanover township (Burlington County), 1723-1882 Township Committee Minutes and Records of Strays.
- Palisades township (Bergen County), 1910-1921 Miscellaneous Papers.
Over 34,000 reels of microfilm are housed at the New Jersey State Archives. These New Jersey genealogical records are from all branches of the state government. New Jersey genealogists might be most interested in family history documents from the County Clerk’s Office, courts, miscellaneous and the Surrogate’s Office. As part of the New Jersey Newspaper Project, 3.15 million pages from newspapers dating back to 1777 have been microfilmed.
The New Jersey State Archives do have some online data bases o finterest for New Jersey genealogy including:
- Death records from June 1878. Colonial marriages 1666-1799. This includes indexes of marriage bonds and licenses (1711-1745) filed with the Secretary of State’s Office; 23,064 entries.
- Marriages May 1848-May 1878 filed with the Secretary of State’s Office; 294,534 entries.
- Death records 1787-1913. 1878-1890 online index; 312,000 entries.
- Colonial Land Surveys and Warrants 1670-1727; 14,802 entries.
- Revolutionary War Damages 1776-1782; 6,359 entries. There is no evidence any of the claims were paid.
- Index to Supreme Court Cases 1704-1844; 155,075 entries.
- Civil War Vouchers which includes New Jersey’s payment receipts for military expenditures and wartime purchases from 1861-1866; 113,536 entries.
- World War I Deaths, compiled in 1919 with the assistance of the War Department; 3,427 entries.
Microfilming historical records is a huge and expensive undertaking. The State of New Jersey accepted the assistance of the Mormon church in accomplishing the task. These microfilm images may also be available online at the LDS Family Search web site or on microfilm at the LDS Family History Library or their satellite Family History Centers.
Researching genealogical records for your genealogy search in New Jersey’s State Archives is a time consuming process. Finding information to solve your New Jersey genealogy mystery is difficult. The team of expert New Jersey genealogists at RecordClick will help you. We will search for that elusive New Jersey genealogical record, organize your New Jersey ancestor search, create your family history and more.