A New Era for the Bureau of Vital Statistics (NJDOH)
In June 1878, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) instituted the use of a standardized form to report births – the birth certificate. This change came after thirty years’ use of a tabular formatted register page called the REGISTER OF Births that local registrars or town clerks submitted annually to the Trenton at the conclusion of each reporting period (May 1st — May 1st). This collection can be accessed at a local FamilySearch Center or via the Ancestry collection — New Jersey, U.S., Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1711-1878.
From my conversations with researchers in New Jersey Facebook groups to society events, I have heard a consistent message. There are very little options for learning about doing genealogical research in New Jersey. And I’m talking the nitty-gritty of research such as history of the colony and who were its settlers to records collections pertinent to colonial New Jersey. These areas are the core of successful research for your provincial and colonial New Jersey ancestors. Without this core knowledge, you may become part of the group of researchers who lament to me about the difficulties of “that genealogical quagmire—New Jersey.”
Which leads me to this crazy idea to hold an online course for a while now, and it’s finally come to fruition. And it deals with all that is mucky about researching colonial New Jersey. This first course is built and ready to launch… so ready in fact, that it starts on Monday, March 13th at 7pm ET. And yes, it is a virtual course via Zoom!
The Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ) will be celebrating DNA Day at our 2023 Spring Conference in West Windsor on Saturday, April 22nd. The event features two nationally known speakers – Blaine Bettinger, world-renowned Genetic Genealogy expert, and Sydney F. Cruice, an expert in Mid-Atlantic genealogy. The dual-track event features four sessions on Genetic Genealogy/DNA along with four sessions on military records, probate records, church & cemetery records and land platting.
Registration includes catered breakfast and buffet lunch, syllabus and door prizes. The GSNJ Bookstore will be open.
It truly has been a while since I have written a blog post. There has been so much news and I am not sure where to start.
First, I would like to say that New Jersey genealogy is alive and well. From the posts I see in online groups to Society activities around the state, I don’t think there has been a better time to be doing genealogical research on New Jersey families than now!
Next, I want to share that the resources which are available today are numerous. While I know we would all love to have the post-May 1878 certificates for births, marriages and deaths digitally available, the new Ancestry collection—New Jersey, U.S., Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1711-1878—offers researchers access to clear, readable versions of the registers of Return of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the 1 May 1878–1 June 1878 reporting period. We are no longer restricted to viewing these at a local FamilySearch Center or an FamilySearch affiliate library or make the trek to Trenton to spend a day researching. This is great news!
These records are currently only available in image format, as they were scanned from 94 reels of microfilm and have not yet had a text transcription project to turn their contents into a searchable database. However, the majority of both record sets were typed, and you should be able to use the Internet Archive’s built-in OCR capabilities to do a text-search of most of the images. Click the little magnifying glass on the far-left side of each item to do a “Search Inside.” … it’s a list of births that have been separated by county of birth, and sometimes by a major city within the county, and it’s not just a purely alphabetical list. Nice, right? (The “5” before the “Feb.” means 1925. A “6” means 1926, and so on.) Luckily, New Jersey’s index is almost entirely typed! With a few extra names written in (neatly) here and there. Based on published New Jersey vital statistics, we think this collection covers 1,762,288 births in New Jersey (give or take a few) from 1901-1929, which were typed into books, which were then photographed onto 92 microfilm reels. Each of the reels has a few hundred images. It’s 493 GB in total.
This week the Genealogical Society of New Jersey will hold its 100th Annual Meeting. This year, it will be held virtually and is followed by a presentation — Reclaim the Records — by Alec Ferretti.
The Genealogical Society of New Jersey— A History of Genealogical Preservation
The Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ) was founded in 1921 by a group of genealogical scholars dedicated to the preservation of New Jersey family history. A common interest among GSNJ’s founders was the transcription of tombstone information. Styling themselves “tombstone hounds,” they began organizing “tombstone hunts” at burying grounds around the state.
In 1924, the Society was incorporated with a mission to discover, procure, preserve and publish information pertaining to families and individuals associated with New Jersey. GSNJ’s institutional history has depended extensively on contributions made by volunteers.
It’s been some time since my last post and I will say, I have missed sharing New Jersey genealogy news with you. While I have been busy with my career with Legacy Tree Genealogists, I still remain connected to my home state New Jersey! In September of 2020, I rejoined the Board of Trustees for the Genealogical Society of New Jersey and am working hard with other Trustees to bring the Society to wider audiences.
Some updates on the New Jersey State Archives include their holdings have recently received death certificates through 1961 (1962 should be available soon!) and the staff has created many new databases, including the Delayed Birth Certificate index (records mainly from the 1940s for births post-1900).
I’ve updated a 2015 (originally published in 2013) JRG post on accessing vital records in New Jersey:
Yes, unfortunately, obtaining vital records can be a challenge in New Jersey if you don’t know where to start your search. On March 3, 1848 New Jersey passed “An ACT relating to the registry and returns of births, marriages, and deaths, in the state of New Jersey” which required town clerks to annually submit a certified copy of births, marriages and deaths that occurred in their jurisdictions. This law created a wonderful set of records, we as genealogists, use to solidify our family branches, twigs and roots.