Gateway to the Garden State: Sources and Strategies for New Jersey Research
Course Coordinator: Melissa A Johnson, CG
Held July 16-21, 2017, at La Roche College, Pittsburgh, PA. Registration Information.
Michelle Tucker Chubenko, Karen Mauer Jones, CG, and Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL
“New Jersey: Research in the Garden State” is designed for intermediate to advanced researchers who are familiar with how to use common genealogical records (census, church, land, probate, and vital records, for example) and are interested in learning about sources and strategies for researching New Jersey families. This course will cover New Jersey-specific federal, state, county, municipal, and private records useful for researching from New Jersey’s proprietary period through to the present day. Instructors will teach attendees about New Jersey records, how to access them, and how to use them for genealogical research. Examples, hands-on exercises, and case studies will be used to demonstrate how challenging New Jersey research problems can be solved.
8:30 a.m. Overview of New Jersey History and Genealogy (Johnson)
The course will begin with an overview and timeline of New Jersey’s history as it relates to genealogical research, including details about the state’s changing geography and governance; an overview of migrations and settlements during various time periods; and a timeline of major events such as wars, industrial growth, and religious movements. This introduction will also cover the challenges associated with New Jersey research, and will set the stage for future discussions on records that were created over a wide span of years.
10: 15 a.m. Proprietary New Jersey: Records and Research Strategies (Johnson)
Beginning in 1664, New Jersey was separated into two divisions that were governed by the East and West Jersey proprietors—Sir George Carteret, and John, Lord Berkeley, respectively. The Proprietors owned the land, had authority to sell it, and governed New Jersey’s inhabitants. The records of the East and West Jersey proprietors, deposited at the New Jersey State Archives, are complex and require an understanding of the time period and its practices, as well as knowledge of the various types of records created and how they can be used for genealogical research.
1:00 p.m. Colonial New Jersey: Records and Research Strategies (Johnson)
Researching ancestors who lived in New Jersey during the Colonial period requires the ability to use different types of records together to solve problems. This lecture covers Colonial-era records and the information they can provide, and also uses examples to illustrate how the records work together to make connections between generations and solve difficult New Jersey research problems.
2:45 p.m. New Jersey Estate Records (Johnson)
Students will learn about the probate and administration processes in New Jersey and the abundance of records they created. The lecture will cover estate records from the early period to the present, the various organization systems used over time, uses for establishing kinship, research strategies, key locations of records today, and more.
8:30 a.m. Strategies for New Jersey Church Records (Johnson)
New Jersey’s long history has been impacted significantly by religion. This lecture introduces the theology behind several religious denominations, and provides an overview of the types of records available for each. Key repositories that hold religious records for New Jersey, and strategies for working with church records to prove kinship and solve problems will also be covered.
10: 15 a.m. Land and Tax in the Garden State (Johnson)
Land records are a key record group in New Jersey, especially during the early federal period (given that the 1790, 1800, 1810 and 1820 federal censuses for New Jersey do not survive). This lecture is an in-depth study of land ownership in New Jersey, and land records from the Proprietary period to the present. Various types of land records and tax records will be introduced and explained in detail. Research strategies for both urban and rural areas of New Jersey will be covered.
1:00 p.m. Jersey Justice: Finding and Using the Law (Russell)
To understand the records we find, and to use them effectively in genealogical research, we have to understand the law at the time and place each record was created. This session will provide an overview of the legal system in New Jersey from colonial days to modern times, how the laws were made, and how to find the specific law in effect at a given time.
2:45 p.m. French Huguenots in New Netherland and New York/New Jersey (K. Jones)
This lecture examines the historical and cultural context experienced by Huguenots in Europe and New York, and discusses relevant records and strategies. Two waves of Huguenots entered New Netherland/New York/New Jersey in the first century of European settlement. The first was drawn by economic opportunity and was immersed in the dominant Dutch culture. The second wave comprised religious refugees fleeing the repercussions of the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Many of the latter wave spent time in England, were comfortable within the English culture, and assimilated quickly. These groups have different histories and records, and require different research strategies for successful tracking. In both cases, understanding the dominant culture facilitates research.
8:30 a.m. Courting the Garden State: New Jersey Courts and Their Records (Russell)
Understanding the history and structure of colonial, state, and federal courts of New Jersey is key to finding the records of court action. This session will provide an overview of Garden State courts, the records they created, and how to find and use those records today to add depth and breadth to family history.
10: 15 a.m. New Jersey Military Records (Johnson)
An abundance of New Jersey military records exist for several conflicts: the Colonial wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I. These resources include muster rolls, service records, financial records, pension files, photographs, and useful indexes and transcriptions. The discussion will focus on the records, how they are organized, online and on-site availability, and strategies for using these records in conjunction with federal military records.
1:00 p.m. New Jersey Government Records: State and Local (Johnson)
In addition to land records, wills, and other types of court records, New Jersey has an abundance of other records at the state, local and municipal level that can be used to solve family mysteries and establish kinship. This lecture will cover a variety of institutional records, state census records, and county and municipal records such as coroner’s inquests, tavern licenses, prison records, road returns, and many other unique record sets. New Jersey’s Open Public Records Access laws will also be discussed. Unique records found in each county will be covered with regard to holdings at various state, county and private repositories.
2:45 p.m. New Jersey After Statehood (Johnson)
Researching New Jersey families after statehood presents unique challenges. New Jersey’s government had changed, resulting in changes in record keeping. Vital records did not yet exist, and census records do not survive. Record groups that are useful for this time period will be discussed; however, this lecture is primarily a lesson in strategy for working within this problematic time period.
8:30 a.m. New Jersey Vital Records, Adoption, and Divorce (Johnson)
This lecture covers vital records and the information they provide during different time periods; vital record additions and corrections; delayed vital registration; stillbirth records; New Jersey adoption records and recent adoption legislation; and New Jersey divorce records. In addition to the types of records that exist, the discussion will focus on availability and restrictions, present-day organization of the records, online and on-site indexes and records, alternatives for restricted or non-existent records, and methods for using vital records, adoption records, and divorce records to solve problems.
10: 15 a.m. Twentieth-Century New Jersey Research (Johnson)
This lecture will explore resources useful for finding families who lived in New Jersey during the twentieth century. City directories, newspapers, maps, state census records, and numerous other sources will be covered, with a focus on researching both rural and urban, and landless and landowner ancestors.
1:00 p.m. Must Have Resources for New Jersey Genealogy (Chubenko)
Many of New Jersey’s best reference materials and web resources require detailed explanation in order to be used effectively. This lecture will take students through a variety of published reference books, journals, source material, and finding aids. The lecture will also go over important websites and databases that are useful for New Jersey genealogy research.
2:45 p.m. New Jersey Libraries and Repositories (Chubenko)
This lecture will focus on key repositories—the New Jersey State Archives, New Jersey State Library, New Jersey Historical Society, Rutgers University, and Princeton University—and how to effectively use the catalogs for each. An overview of major collections online at FamilySearch will also be provided.
8:30 a.m. Case Studies in New Jersey Genealogy (Johnson)
Several case studies covering different time periods and various types of problems will be presented. Each problem will be resolved using different approaches and a variety of sources that will be explained in detail. Case studies demonstrate how:
• cemetery and probate records for collateral relatives connect an eighteenth century Newark man to his family when published sources name his contemporary as their son;
• five generations of a family, spanning 1664 to 1780, can be connected through indirect evidence;
• a twentieth-century blended family can be reconstructed using New Jersey records.
10:15 a.m. Extended Question & Answer Session
Extended Q&A session for any questions about New Jersey research.
Certificates and Class Wrap-Up before Lunch