FamilySearch has made great strides in providing digital records collections available freely for researchers and currently, there are eleven New Jersey Historical Records Collections. The focus of ‘Part B’ in the comparison of Ancestry vs FamilySearch is the collection – New Jersey Probate Records, 1678-1980. It has been online since June 2014. The collection is comprised of digitized images from the microfilming of the County Surrogates’ Courts in the early 1970s. The records available include a variety of components: wills, administrations, bond, receipts, indexes, adoptions and more.
Armchair research for New Jersey probate or estate files?
Yup!! In August 2012, a new digital resource became available for New Jersey researchers at FamilySearch.org — New Jersey, Probate Records, 1678-1980. The initial digital image uploads for this Historical Record Collection were comprised of *two* different records groups. The first part (state-level) was the Pre-1901 Secretary of State Estate File packets and the second part (county-level) was respective County Surrogate’s Court records.
Unfortunately, due to the licensing agreement with the New Jersey State Archives (NJSA), FamilySearch did remove the Pre-1901 Secretary of State Estate File images in November. However, the Surrogate’s Court records for the counties have remained online. At this time, only the County of Morris Surrogate’s Court is not represented. This is due to the fact that they have not allowed FamilySearch to microfilm their records.
It is important for researchers to remember that the estate packets differ from the County Surrogate’s in a major way. The state-level Pre-1901 Secretary of State Estate File packets contain the original documents filed – wills, public notices, inventories, etc. Whereas the County Surrogate’s Court is charged with maintaining “copies” aka transcriptions of the filed papers , so you are not as likely to find the copies of the public notices or other miscellaneous filings.