Using the Online Collections – Ancestry vs. FamilySearch: Part A

We all love having online access to records. Usually, even an online index makes for genealogy ‘happy dance’. So, I’m hoping that my review of the data collections available at Ancestry.com for Probate records in New Jersey will elicit a shimmy or two.

Ancestry_NJ Probate choices

 

New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1785-1924

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8796

This collection is comprised digitized images of the county Surrogate’s Court records that were microfilmed by the GSU in 1971. The index does NOT cover all pages within the digitized images from the microfilm.

This record set is cataloged in the Family History Library as:

·         United States, New Jersey, “County Name” – Probate records

·         United States, New Jersey, “County Name” – Probate records – Indexes

Note: I know for a fact that there are records in this collection that surpass the “1924” cutoff year listed. Randy Seaver, take note, I’m sure I can write at least 21 more blog posts on the online differences for each county! J

New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2793

This collection is comprised of the digitized images the 13 volumes of Documents relating to the colonial and revolutionary history of the State of New Jersey – Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Etc.
Calendar of New Jersey Wills, 1670-1760

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4723

This collection is an index with links to “Full Context” or the OCR’d text from the page within the volume of Documents relating to the colonial and revolutionary history of the State of New Jersey – Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Etc.
New Jersey, Published Archives Series, 1631-1782

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2175

This collection contains the digitized images from the full collection – First and Second Series – for the “Documents relating to the colonial and revolutionary history of the State of New Jersey” and “Documents relating to the colonial, revolutionary and post-revolutionary history of the State of New Jersey”. A total of 27 volumes!

·         Wills, Provincial government documents, Newspaper Extracts and more

U.S., Ratified Indian Treaties and Chiefs, 1722-1869

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60583

Personal commentary: I really don’t understand why this is listed under the Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal section. There are no entries for location of “New Jersey” in an exact or nearby state search.   Ancestry I’m really not sure what you’re thinking with this one.
Index of wills, inventories, etc. in the Office of the Secretary of State prior to 1901

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=13885

This collection contains the digitized images from the 3 volumes that make up the set Index of Wills, Inventories, Etc. in the office of the Secretary of State Prior to 1901 published in 1912.

·         Volume I: Atlantic-Essex

·         Volume II:   Gloucester-Monmouth

·         Volume III: Morris-Warren

Note: A quick search of the index shows that it was created via OCR. Not very reliable. These volumes are sectioned by county, then alphabetical by surname. A good old-fashioned search might be good here.

Patents and Deeds and Other Early Records of New Jersey 1664-1703

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48606

This collection is the digitized images from the GPC reprint (c1982) book Patents and Deeds and Other Early Records of New Jersey 1664-1703 edited by William Nelson that was published in 1899.   While the majority of the records are land transactions for East and West Jersey, you will find some wills filed within these land libers.

Note: A quick search of the index shows that it was created via OCR. Not very reliable of indexing these early 20th century print volumes. A good old-fashioned search of the printed indexes at the back of the volume might be good here.

New Jersey Index of Wills, Inventories, Etc., Vol(ume) I

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48597

This collection is a duplicate of “Index of wills, inventories, etc. in the Office of the Secretary of State prior to 1901” [database #13885].

·         Volume I: Atlantic-Essex

Note: The folks at Ancestry really should pay attention to duplicated digital image collections.

New Jersey Index of Wills, Inventories, Etc., Vol(ume) II

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48598

This collection is a duplicate of “Index of wills, inventories, etc. in the Office of the Secretary of State prior to 1901” [database #13885].

·         Volume II:   Gloucester-Monmouth

Note: The folks at Ancestry really should pay attention to duplicated digital image collections.

Proceedings, constitution, by-laws, list of members, &c., of the Surveyors’ Association of West New Jersey : with historical and biographical sketches relating to New Jersey

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=13881

This collection is the digitized images from the book with the same title published in 1880. The Index to the Appendix is worth checking out as it relates to the “Back Matter” section listed on the Browse this Collection list.
New Jersey Index of Wills, Inventories, Etc., Vol(ume) III

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48599

This collection is a duplicate of “Index of wills, inventories, etc. in the Office of the Secretary of State prior to 1901” [database #13885].

·         Volume III: Morris-Warren

Note: The folks at Ancestry really should pay attention to duplicated digital image collections.

Salem County wills : recorded in the Office of the Surrogate at Salem, New Jersey : 1831-1860

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=11129

This collection is the digitized images from H. Stanley Craig’s books with the title Salem County wills : recorded in the Office of the Surrogate at Salem, New Jersey in which he has abstracted the wills for the timespan listed.

Note: It is interesting to see the error in the title of the database in the coverage years.   The database descriptions has “1831-1830” yet the title pages of the two-volume set lists:

·         Volume 1: 1804-1830

·         Volume 2: 1831-1860

Index of wills, Office of Secretary of State, State of New Jersey, 1804-1830

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=13896

This collection is the digitized images from the book of the same name that was published in 1901. It is an index to Wills and Intestacies for the timespan listed. I suggest using the 3-volume set Index of wills, inventories, etc. in the Office of the Secretary of State prior to 1901 instead.

SUMMARY:  Overall, I do think that Ancestry has a good share of published and original data collections for researchers.  A key to success is knowing which collection to use and which to overlook.  While it would be nice to have more original records collections available, such as those Provincial/Colonial Estate files (1670-1804), researchers still have the ability to search for this record set using the abstracts and indexes published in the early 20th century.  As researchers, we know that obtaining original copies might have to be done the old-fashioned way, using a stamp and an envelope.

Researcher’s Caveat: I did not test the number of database entries for any of the above collection for reasonability. This blogger can only do so much!

Happy Searching!

Next Installment…

  • Using the Online Collections – Ancestry vs. FamilySearch: Part B
  • Take A Closer Look: Examining NJ Estate Records, 1600s – 1700s – 1800s
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