The following announcement was written by the folks at Reclaim the Records:
Hello again, from your favorite open records activists at Reclaim The Records! Do you remember how at the end of our last newsletter we promised you 116 years of brand new records, coming soon to a computer near you? Well, we might have made a tiny mistake, because we stink at math. It’s only 115 years. And here they are!
New Jersey Marriage Index
Introducing the NEW JERSEY MARRIAGE INDEX, 1901-2016! These records are now totally digital, and totally free — forever! Now you can research anyone who got married in the Garden State right from your home, still in your pajamas.
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Plainfield Public Library Announces Tri-County History Fair
Saturday, October 22, 2016, from 10 am to 4 pm
The Plainfield Public Library is excited to announce the Tri-County History Fair for Middlesex, Union, and Somerset Counties. Join colleagues, friends, and neighbors for a fun day of historical discovery, resource sharing, raffles, and more. On Saturday, October 22nd from 10 am to 4 pm, over 20 local history organizations, museums, and libraries will be exhibiting and promoting their historical collections on the library’s lower level around the area fountain. There will be two exhibits on display at this time: Contemporary Photographs of Plainfield Veterans by Plainfielder Brian Price and Plainfield in Pictures– a selection of images from the library’s historical photograph collections. Continue reading
Estates from 1967 to 1992 to be available on Surrogate’s Records Room computers
FREEHOLD, NJ – The conversion and indexing of over 80,000 microfiche estate records to a digitized format is under way in the Monmouth County Surrogate’s Office, announced Surrogate Rosemarie D. Peters. When the conversion is completed, the records, extending from 1967 to 1992, will be imported into the existing imaging software system and will be available on computers in the Surrogate’s Records Room in the County Hall of Records, Main Street, Freehold.
New Jersey Day Celebration
Friday, June 24, 2016
225 West State Street, 1st Floor
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.
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!
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.
For an intimate revelation of social conditions in New Jersey during the first sixty-five years of English supremacy it would be difficult to imagine a volume richer in material than this. From about 1680 it was the general practice to deposit wills with the Provincial Secretaries, by whom they were filed or recorded—usually both,—together with inventories of estates, accounts of executors and administrators, and other papers pertaining to such matters, and many odd documents having no apparent relation thereto—as ante-nuptial contracts, marriage licenses, and the like. These records were brought together in 1790 or shortly thereafter, in the office of the Secretary of State at Trenton, where they are now carefully arranged and preserved.
~ William Nelson, Introductory Note on the Early Testamentary Laws and Customs of New Jersey, 1901
Although the Governors’ appointments for Surrogates’ within the counties came to be though the law giving them their posts for a 5-year term, their duties were limited. In 1784, “An Act to ascertain the Power and Authority of the Ordinary and his Surrogates &c” was passed to further define the duties of Surrogates and extended duties to granting the Probates of Wills, Letters of Administration, Letters of Guardianship and Marriage-Licenses, and to the Hearing and determining of estate disputes. The common practice for the county surrogates to send wills which they had proved to the Register of the Prerogative Court to be recorded. No original wills or inventories were kept locally with the Surrogate.
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. 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: