Earlier this month, FamilySearch released a new Historical Records Collection online for New Jersey researchers – the 1915 NJ State census. New Jersey was one of ten states that took a census in 1915; however this enumeration was the seventh and last state census that the Garden State had completed. This indexed collection adds another state census database to the existing records collections list that includes 1885 and 1905. Hopefully, FamilySearch will be able to add the images to these censuses in the future.
The enacting legislation for the state census directed the Secretary of State, Samuel D. Dickinson, to decide the formatting, but included the same generic language defining the classification of males and females in age classes. I am happy to say the Mr. Dickinson and his staff did not to follow the “letter of the law” and chose to create a format that mimicked the 1900 US Federal census.
The census sheet included columns such as month/year of birth, citizenship, occupation, education (read, write, speak English), and home ownership. In 1915, the format was changed to include a specific column for “School Children” – whether or not in school, name of school & type of school.
Unlike Federal census dates, the NJ State census remains semi-consistent with June 1st, except for the May 15th for the 1885-1895 enumerations. The 1855 through 1895 state censuses were enumerated by local tax assessors. However, in 1905 and 1915 New Jersey hired supervisors, enumerators and interpreters.
The demise of the New Jersey State census…
And, all good things must come to an end. The lackluster results of enumerations forced legislators reevaluate the purpose of the state enumerations as they felt that the count was not as complete as federal enumerations and was not worth the financial burden to the state. And while a volunteer committee representing social and philanthropic agencies tried to amend scope of enumeration and tabulation to provide useful data to study population movements since 1910. No action was taken by state government officials for the enumeration in 1915.
Unfortunately, a “repealer” act was introduced by Senator Walter Edge. The legislation was enacted on March 8, 1916 and the NJ State state census became history.
Where to find the NJ State census…
The New Jersey State Archives maintains most of the original census enumerations, either accessioned or on deposit. All extant enumerations are available on microfilm for researchers.
- New Jersey State Archives
- FamilySearch locations (formerly LDS Family History Center)
- Local libraries & County Archives
- 1915 NJ State Census (index only): https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2061544
- 1905 NJ State Census (index only): https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1928107
- 1885 NJ State Census (index only): https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1803972
NOTE: The index and images to the 1895 NJ State census are online at Ancestry.
 Acts of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, 129th Legislature, 1905 (Trenton: The J.L. Murphy Co., 1906), 233, Chapter 125, “An Act to provide for the census or enumeration of the inhabitants of this state,” digital copy, (www.google.com/books : accessed 9 September 2013).
 Blank transcription forms for all NJ State censuses are available at the NJ State Archives in the microfilm reading room.
 Acts of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, 109th Legislature, 1885 (Trenton: The J.L. Murphy Co., 1886), 230, Chapter CLXXVII, “An Act to provide for the census or enumeration of the inhabitants of this state,” digital copy, (www.google.com/books : accessed 9 September 2013).
 “State Abolishes Taking of Census,” newsstory, Trenton Evening Times, Thursday, March 9, 1916, page 16, column 6; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.
 Acts of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, 130th Legislature, 1916 (Trenton: State Printers., 1917), 62, Chapter 34, “An Act to repeal an act entitled ‘An act to provide for the census or enumeration of the inhabitants of this state’ approved April twelfth, one thousand nine hundred fine”; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.