Using the Indexes: New Jersey Births-Marriages-Deaths, 1901-03 and the Bride’s Index, 1901-14

Late in 2015, Reclaim the Records, a not-for-profit group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates, worked with the New Jersey State Archives to acquire the microfilm to the birth, marriage and death annual indexes for 1901, 1902, and 1903.  While speaking with the Archives, she was also able to submit a request for the Bride’s Indexes for 1904-09 and 1910-14.  You can read more about the project’s Records Request #5: New Jersey Birth, Marriage, and Death Indices, 1901-1903 and 1901-1914 on their website.

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New Jersey Day Celebration, June 24th

New Jersey Day Celebration
Friday, June 24, 2016
225 West State Street, 1st Floor20160622_111926

In celebration of New Jersey Day, the anniversary of the founding of New Jersey in 1664, several of the State’s cultural agencies have put together a series of exhibits and programs for Friday, June 24, 2016, on the 1st Floor of 225 West State Street, Trenton, N.J.

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What? Wait! You’re Telling Me There Are No Indexes!?

A general sentiment that I read quite frequently on the messages boards is that doing research in New Jersey is so difficult.  Digging deeper, I find that the trouble is with the time period… the early 20th century.  The trouble isn’t with the records themselves; the trouble is the lack of indexes!

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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.

New Jersey Estate Records: What exactly are the Secretary of State Pre-1901 Estate files?

For researchers, it is often a rare occurrence to “run” into appointed officials and actually begin to take a liking to them. In this case, I’m going on record and saying that Secretary of State Samuel D. Dickinson is fast becoming a favorite. He was appointed in 1902 and remained in office until 1912. During his tenure, I can credit his office with two accomplishments for which genealogists today are most thankful – the enumeration format for the 1905 State Census of New Jersey along with the conservation and arrangement of the pre-1901 estate files.

Upon taking office in 1902, Secretary Dickinson found that he inherited a collection of records that were overused and in disarray.[1] He charged his deputy, J.B.R. Smith, to the task of inventorying the estate records and forming an arrangement system. And what a task he had! Mr. Smith grouped the estate files into four distinct groups:

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New Jersey Estate Records – A Primer

Disclaimer:  This primer assumes that the reader understands the actions of probating a will and the administration of an estate.

As genealogists, we all know that research rarely is straight-forward and it often throws us curve balls whenever it can.  Understanding the hierarchy and collections of estate files (aka probate records) can be daunting for many doing New Jersey research.  The first key factor beyond location is timeframe.  Folks, it is extremely important to remember that New Jersey has been keeping these types of records since 1670!

Early History

We can track New Jersey’s growth from the New Netherlands’ (Dutch) and New Sweden (Finnish and Swedish) settlements in the early 1600s to its birth in 1664 through an English royal grant as “Nova Cæsarea” and to the Quintipartite 1676 deed, where the colony was split into the “twin provinces” of East and West Jersey, right up through statehood in 1787.[1]   This multi-faceted evolution of today’s New Jersey had a large impact on the record-keeping of estate records.

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Family History Month celebrates 25 years!

Happy 25th Birthday Family History Month!

Started by the Monmouth County (NJ) Genealogy Society in 1990, the Family History Month initiative hit mainstream genealogy in 2001.  Since then, it’s popularity has steadily risen and today, you can read about national coordination of events to celebrate:

And a bit closer to home, I’ve compiled a list of New Jersey events in October:

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Using Facebook for New Jersey Genealogy

Last week, I was the featured guest on The Forget Me Not Hour: Your Ancestors Want Their Stories to Be Told radio show hosted by Jane E. Wilcox.  She invited me to speak about creating virtual genealogy communities. As a founding member of the Facebook group Nashi Predky / Our Ancestors for Ukrainian Genealogy, I have been willing to talk about starting online communities using social media.  Prior to this interview, I presented at the APG’s Professional Management Conference during day one of their poster sessions.

My poster “Creating a Virtual Community:  Nashi Predky (Our Ancestors) Unites Ukrainian Researchers” focused on the creation of a Facebook group to fill researcher’s need of an online “home” for Ukrainian genealogy. By using the social media platform of Facebook, researchers have the ability to use live arena to get and share information.  While being “only” on Facebook does limit the group’s reach, our success is definitely measurable.  Our group gained over 830 members within its first 12 months!

So, how does this relate to New Jersey genealogy?  The answer is quite simple… Were you aware that there are 40+ groups that focus one NJ genealogy and history?  If not, maybe I can convince you to become a member of one or more!

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