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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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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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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Genealogists Initiate a Declaration of Rights

Fellow genealogists: Won’t you consider signing the declaration?

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

One of the major announcements at the recent conference of the National Genealogical Society was a new Declaration concerning access to public documents. Please note that it includes an opportunity for YOU to sign the Declaration.

The following was written by the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC),
a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies:

Richmond, 10 May 2014: Jordan Jones, President of the National Genealogical Society (NGS), a sponsoring member of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), announced the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights before a crowd of more than 2,500 genealogists attending the Opening Session of the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia on 7 May 2014.
The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records…

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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.

Explore Your Jersey Roots Lectures sponsored by GSNJ, CJGC and NJSA

In celebration of New Jersey’s 350th, the State Archives, Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ) and Central Jersey Genealogy Club (CJGC) have come together to present an evening lecture series and all-day spring program in May-June.

The evening lectures will run on Tuesday/Wednesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. (following extended public research hours in the State Archives’ Microfilm Reading Room), as follows: Continue reading

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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Day 2 of the 2013 Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

Sunshine! Temperatures are fantastic.  After suffering last week’s heat wave, it was pleasure to walk outside and be enveloped by a cool 67 degrees.

I forgot to include the breaking news about 2014 courses were announced and the lineup is a good one!    Next year’s institute will be held 21-25 July 2014 and Determining Kinship Reliably through the Genealogical Proof Standard (Thomas W. Jones, CG) and Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper (Paula Stuart-Warren, CG) are returning for a third year to GRIP.  Four new courses will be offered:

  • Law School for Genealogists (Judy G. Russell, JD, CG and Richard Sayre, CG)
  • Finding and Documenting African-American Families (J. Mark Lowe, CG and Dr. Deborah Abbott)
  • Becoming an Online Expert:  Mastering Search Engines and Digital Archives (D. Joshua Taylor)
  • Practical Genetic Genealogy (Debbie Parker Wayne, CG; CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger)

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New Jersey Bill Gives Adoptees Access to Their Medical History & Birth Records

NJ SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE APPROVES BILL TO GIVE ADOPTEES ACCESS TO BIRTH INFORMATION

Here’s a recent Press Release from the office of Sen. Joseph Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee:

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Chairman Joseph F. Vitale which would give adoptees in New Jersey access to their medical history and birth records was approved June 13, 2013 by the Senate Health Committee.

“Every person deserves to know who they are and where they came from, but for many adoptees sealed records leave them in the dark on their family medical, cultural and social history, making it difficult to make decisions on their own personal well being,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “This bill would give adopted people in New Jersey access to information that is vital to protect their health and establish a line of family history that would otherwise not exist.”

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