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.
These annual returns were compiled and created 39 volumes entitled, “Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths” which are bound in alphabetical order by county, then town name for the period of June 1st 1848 through May 31st 1878.
But guess what, it gets better…
The New Jersey State Legislature further broadened the vital registration law on April 5, 1878 which gave local clerks instructions to create a “certificate” for each vital event — birth, marriage and death. This law went into effect on June 1st 1878.
For genealogists today, accessing this veritable gold mine of records can be frustrating. To help sort out the “What…How…Where”, I’ve compiled a “cheat-sheet” that provides where the record groups are available for fellow researchers.
First, it is important to note… Full plain copies can be made in-person at the NJ State Archives for $0.50/page from the on-site microfilm holdings . Also, all requests processed through the NJ Dept of Health (NJDOH) are either CERTIFIED (can be used for ID purposes) or Vital Registration (VR) CERTIFICATIONS (not for IDs; genealogy requests).
NOTE: For NJDOH requests, please note the genealogy access information section below.
For In-Person Searches at the NJ State Archives:
- Birth (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1923
- Death (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1955
- Marriages (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1940
- Marriages (County Clerk’s Register of Minister Returns): formation of county through mid-1870s
By Mail via the NJ State Archives:
- Birth (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1912
- Death (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1912
- Marriages (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1912
NJSA Mail Request Instructions:
NJSA Online Databases:
FamilySearch: New Jersey Databases:
- New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980
- New Jersey, Marriages, 1678-1985
- New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956
- New Jersey Deaths and Burials, 1720-1988
By Mail via the NJ Dept of Health:
- Birth (certificates): 1913 – present
- Death (certificates): 1913 – present
- Marriages (certificates): 1913 – present
Access for Genealogy Purposes from NJDOH:
** You must provide a form of ID with your genealogical non-cert request; relationship is not necessary! **
- Birth (certificates): NONE (80 year restriction for genealogical non-cert copy)
- Death (certificates): 1913 – 1973 (40 year restriction; SSN & cause of death is obscured for genealogical non-cert copy)
- Marriages (certificates): 1913 – 1963 (50 year restriction for genealogical non-cert copy)
NOTE: You only need to prove relationship for CERTIFIED, raised seal copies, *not* the VR CERTIFICATIONS that are issued for genealogy requests.
I know, this is clear as mud, right?