RUTGERS UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES RECEIVES GRANT TO DIGITIZE IMPORTANT HISTORICAL NJ NEWSPAPERS

With $186,204 grant New Jersey becomes the 44th state to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is a collaboration of Rutgers University Libraries, the New Jersey State Archives and the New Jersey State Library that will make the history of New Jersey known to its citizens and the world. The plan, according to project director and Rutgers University digital archivist Caryn Radick, is to scan existing microfilm from the New Jersey State Archives and to make searchable digital files available through the Library of Congress website Chronicling America. Over a two-year period, the project will digitize and catalog at least 100,000 newspaper pages, originally published between 1836 and 1922 and not currently available in digital format.

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Book Review:  New Jersey Petitions, 1740, 1745-1794 (5 volumes)

Researching families in colonial New Jersey through early statehood can be challenging and researchers often need to look at a variety of record sets.  An often overlooked group of records is that of petitions to the government – governor, legislature, etc.  These letters from the citizens of the province reflect sentiments ranging from taxation, hunting, war and even opposing expressing opposition to elected officials.

New Jersey Petitions, 1740, 1745-1794 (5 volumes)

New Jersey Petitions, 1740, 1745-1794 (5 volumes)

The compilation — New Jersey Petitions by John D. Stemmons — is comprised of 5 volumes spanning 1740, 1745-1794 and utilizes the petitions found within the manuscript collection of Legislative Records at the New Jersey State Archives.[1]  Researchers will find over 20,000 entries of inhabitants in New Jersey that cannot be replicated by any other record set for the time period.[2]

Researcher’s Caveat:

In preparing these volumes, the compiler chose to use petitions that generally had more than 10 names and a location given.  Those petitions with less than these criteria are excluded from the abstracts.

In the beginning of each volume contains a List of Petitions or inventory of documents with a basic description that was used to extract the signers’ names.  All name entries are presented in alphabetical order by surname.  Due to the recording clerks’ interpretation of surnames, it is important to check variant spellings.

Benefits of Petitions/Memorials[3]

Beyond the obvious boon of locating your ancestor’s name on a petition for a known locality, other positives include seeing original signatures or lack of by using their ‘mark’, familial relations (son of), and even marital status of female signers.

Where to find Volumes 1-5

A quick search of WorldCat shows that the Allen County (IN) Public Library, Wisconsin Historical Society, Houston (TX) Public Library, Library of Congress (DC) and the Family History Library (Salt Lake) have the complete set.[4]  This is in addition it being in the collections of the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton and Rutgers University Alexander Library in New Brunswick.

Unfortunately, if you are looking to add this set to your home library, you will have to look very hard.  The publisher cannot be located online and using AbeBooks.com, I could not locate used copies for sale.

Overall, the compilation is a wonderful resource to use for mid-18th century New Jersey research.  If you have not consulted the set, I urge you to do so.

Happy Searching!


 

[1] Department of Education, New Jersey State Library, Bureau of Archives and History, Manuscript Collection, 1680s-1970s (Series #: SEDSL006); BAH: Legislative Records, 1724-1796 (Boxes 1-12 to 1-16); New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

[2] Unlike its sister colonies in New England, the Province of New Jersey did not continue the practice of recording births, marriages and deaths with town clerks.  Also, the US Federal censuses for 1790-1820 are not extant and church records for the early to mid-1700s may not be complete for early congregations due to records loss.

[3] Memorial – A document presented to the legislative body, or the executive, by one or more individuals, containing a petition or representation of facts. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th Edition, page 1136).

[4] OCLC WordCat (http://www.worldcat.org : accessed 23 October 2015); “new jersey petitions” search results.

South Jersey Church Records… Across the Delaware River

Researchers with roots in South Jersey, particularly those in Burlington and Camden counties, should pay special attention to a collection from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) in Philadelphia.  Officially titled —  Pennsylvania and New Jersey Church and Town Records (1708-1985) —  this collection was indexed, digitized and made available through Ancestry in January 2012. The bulk of the church records within the collection comes from Protestant and Methodist church congregations.  However, additional material available includes cemeteries, funeral home records, historical societies, and newspapers.

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Passaic County Historical Society Library Reopens

On Friday, May 2nd the Passaic County Historical Society (PCHS) library reopened to patrons wishing to conduct research.  The PCHS Board of Trustees welcomes the new Research Specialist, Jesse McGarity, to their staff and encourage researchers to visit on Fridays, 1pm-4pm and well as the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

“The PCHS Library encompasses a rich collection of materials related to the history of cities and towns within Passaic County as well as an extensive body of genealogical information on thousands of families who lived within the county.   The library contains approximately 2,800 books.  These include atlases, city directories, books by local authors, published genealogies, and local histories.   The library has a manuscript collection and thousands of family group sheets on file.”

Before you visit, be sure to consult their A Guide to the Genealogy and Local History Collections of the Passaic County Historical Society Library that is online.

Another new group for Genealogy — Family History Group of the Ukrainian Historical & Educational Center

Ruthenian immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia and Ukrainians from the Russian Empire first began arriving in the U.S. in large numbers at the end of the 19th century. Since then there has never been one place here to learn about how to track down information on individual families with their ancestral roots in Ukraine and southeast Poland. The Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center of New Jersey plans to change this through the launch of its Family History Group in 2014.  Join the UkrHEC for the inaugural event of its new Family History Group and learn how to research your genealogy.

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Searching the “Archives” of the Internet

InternetArchiveLogo“The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public.”

This site can be very helpful in your research process as it offer two areas that are the focus in today’s blog post – Web and Texts.  While there are others—Video, Audio, and Projects – I’ve chosen the two that I think are the most beneficial for genealogists.

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Wednesday Wisdom: Do Your Homework!

Now, sounding like my Mom isn’t what I normally set out to do, especially in my blog.  As researchers, we both like the fact that we can do armchair research with our cups of tea on our desks.  But, I’m sure that she’d agree with me that nothing beats the excitement of doing the hands-on research at a library or archives.

However, before you race out your front door, you need to make a plan for success.  And, don’t think you’re too old for the next line.  Stop, breath and…

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