New Jersey Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the New Jersey Family History Research series.
History of New Jersey
New Jersey Vital Records
Census Records for New Jersey
Background Sources for New Jersey
New Jersey Maps
New Jersey Land Records
New Jersey Probate Records
New Jersey Court Records
New Jersey Tax Records
New Jersey Cemetery Records
New Jersey Church Records
New Jersey Military Records
New Jersey Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
New Jersey Archives, Libraries, and Societies
New Jersey Immigration
New Jersey Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of New Jersey
New Jersey County Resources
Map of New Jersey


Periodicals

The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey was introduced in 1925 by the Genealogical Society of New Jersey and has carried many cemetery marker inscriptions, county marriages, tax lists, church records, and other source material, which has been its main focus in recent decades, with limited compiled genealogy. Kenn Stryker-Rodda produced four volumes of a Given Name Index, covering the first fifty volumes of the journal (Cottonport and New Orleans, La.: Polyanthos, and Lambertville, N.J.: Hunterdon House, 1973–82), and Donald A. Sinclair compiled a subject and author index to the first thirty-five volumes, published by the genealogical society in 1962. See also Elizabeth M. Perinchief’s Index to Cemetery Transcriptions, Baptismal, Burial, Church and Marriage Records in the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey through 1980 (Mount Holly, N.J.: Burlington County Library, 1981).

The New Jersey Historical Society’s journal was first issued in 1845 as Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, comprising ten volumes through 1866. From 1867 to 1895, thirteen volumes were issued with the designation Second Series; from 1896 to 1915, ten volumes were published as the Third Series; and from 1916 to 1966, eighty-four volumes comprised the New Series. The journal was retitled New Jersey History in 1967 but continued the volume numbering from the New Series of Proceedings. Basic genealogical material was dropped from the publication after 1951, but earlier there were many excellent features, including source records and genealogies. For a subject index, see Donald A. Sinclair, comp., An Index to the Magazine New Jersey History through 1966 Called “Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society”: Volumes 1 through 110, 1845–1992 (Metuchen: The Upland Press, 1996).

The New Jersey Genesis was published in twenty volumes from 1953 to 1973 and included source records (some of which were published elsewhere), queries, and other material. An index compiled by the New Mexico Genealogical Society was published in 1973.

Among the regional periodicals that have appeared are The Jerseyman, published in Flemington in eleven volumes from 1891 to 1905. It included church records, genealogies, and local history, mostly for Hunterdon and bordering counties. Another older publication, the Somerset County Historical Quarterly, was published in eight volumes from 1912 to 1919 and has been reprinted by Hunterdon House (Lambertville, N.J., 1977–89); A Subject-and-Author Index to this quarterly, by Donald A. Sinclair, was published by the Genealogical Society of New Jersey in 1991. The quarterly’s most valuable contents were source records, especially Dutch church records, and some of its coverage was devoted to Hunterdon County. The now-defunct Somerset County Genealogical Quarterly and Mercer County Genealogical Quarterly are excellent for their source material, with the former including fine compiled genealogies as well. Two other important journals are The Vineland Historical Magazine, begun in 1916 and concerning Cumberland County, and The Cape May Magazine of History and Genealogy, begun in 1931.

Much New Jersey information is also to be found in the periodical literature of its neighbors, such as The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Publications of The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (and its successor The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine), and The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.

Newspapers

The first newspaper published in New Jersey was in 1775 and extracts to 1782 from this and from a second early newspaper were published in the five volumes of the “New Jersey Archives,” 2d series (Trenton, N.J., 1901–17). They were continued in Thomas B. Wilson, Notices from New Jersey Newspapers, 1781–1790 and 1791–1795 (Lambertville, N.J.: Hunterdon House, 1988, 2002), the latter with Dorothy Agans Stratford. Michael Brown compiled Index to Central New Jersey Newspapers, covering marriages, obituaries, accidents, injuries, meetings, land purchases, and so forth, 1783–1881 (Kendall Park, N.J.: the compiler, 2003). For locating New Jersey newspapers, consult William C. Wright and Paul A. Stellhorn, eds., Directory of New Jersey Newspapers, 1765–1970 (Trenton, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1977).

Large collections of newspapers are at the state archives, the state library, the New Jersey Historical Society, and the Alexander Library at Rutgers University. Notices of marriages, deaths, and so forth have been extracted from New Jersey newspapers and are found in such places as the biographical card file at the historical society (which includes information from some church publications), an index at the state archives for Trenton newspaper marriages and deaths (1777–1899), and the Hutchinson Collection of New Brunswick Newspaper Extracts (1792–1865) at Rutgers. The Gloucester County Historical Society has an excellent card file of birth, marriage, and death notices taken from newspapers. Published extracts of items concerning New Jersey in the period 1704 to 1782 found in newspapers in other colonies appeared in eleven volumes of the “New Jersey Archives,” 1st series.

Manuscripts

Mary R. Murrin, comp., New Jersey Historical Manuscripts: A Guide to Collections in the State (Trenton, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1987) is a general guide to 263 repositories. While a little outdated, it is still useful. Don C. Skemer and Robert C. Morris, comps., Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the New Jersey Historical Collection, New Jersey Historical Society Collections, vol. 15 (Newark, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Society, 1979) is also somewhat dated, but includes family and personal papers as well as a wealth of other useful material.

Herbert F. Smith’s A Guide to the Manuscript Collection of the Rutgers University Library (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1964) can be a useful starting point to this impressive collection, to which much important material has been added since.

Other significant manuscript collections include those in southern New Jersey, such as those at Glassboro and the Gloucester County Historical Society.

Historical Records Survey, Calendar of the New Jersey State Library Manuscript Collection (Newark, 1939) covers a small collection that was numbered and indexed and is now located in the New Jersey State Archives.

The Charles Carroll Gardner Collection, in the Genealogical Society of New Jersey’s collections on deposit in Special Collections at Rutgers University and available on microfilm elsewhere, is strongest on Essex County families. Gardner set out to publish some of his work in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey under the title “A Genealogical Dictionary of New Jersey,” but unfortunately the series only got through some surnames beginning with the letter A (vols. 10–27). Other collections include those of Charles E. Sheppard at Vineland and the John P. Dornan files at Rutgers, both for southern New Jersey, the Freeman Gardner collection on early Woodbridge families at the New Jersey Historical Society, and the Hiram E. Deats collection at Flemington for Hunterdon County. Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania should not be overlooked, particularly for southern New Jersey, such as the Gilbert Cope collection. New York sources should also be considered, such as the Alfred Vail and Josephine C. Frost collections at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the John E. Stillwell material at the New-York Historical Society.

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