Do you have New Jersey ancestry and are looking for sources to start researching your family tree in the Garden State? There are a lot of resources you can use, both free and paid, to find those New Jersey ancestors. Because it is one of the original 13 colonies, records for the state go back for centuries. There is plenty to find. Here are some online and offline sources for New Jersey genealogical records to get you started on your family history journey.
If your New Jersey ancestors are recent, this is the first place you will want to go when building your family tree out of this state. The state’s Department of Vital Statistics has birth, death, and marriage records going back to 1913. You can request genealogical copies of these records via mail or phone. When you make your request, you will need to provide a copy of your driver’s license, payment for the record (they are $25 each), and as much identifying information about the person whose record you are ordering as possible so staff at the Department can find the right record.
To receive the record, the person named in it must be deceased. There are also some time periods imposed on getting records from the Department. These periods are:
- Birth records: The person named in the record must have been born 80 or more years ago
- Death records: The person named in the record must have died 40 or more years ago
- Marriage records: The marriage must have taken place 50 or more years ago
Online Resources for New Jersey Genealogical Information
New Jersey genealogical records are all over the Internet. Some sources are free, while others require a paid subscription to access the records. All sources are well worth checking out because they each offer something unique to your family history research. Here are some of the top places online for finding your New Jersey ancestors.
FamilySearch: This is a free website run by the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints, and it has a huge collection of genealogical records from all around the world, including a large amount from New Jersey. In fact, there is a whole section on the site devoted to New Jersey records. Records include digitized courthouse records no one has seen in generations, probate records, city and town records, church records, and family histories submitted by church members and other users.
Ancestry.com: This is a subscription-based site that is one of the most well-known genealogy websites in the world. If there is only one place where you plan to spend your genealogy dollars, this is the one. You can find plenty of information here, such as the entire U.S. census collection up to 1940, including the New Jersey census records. New Jersey state census records, which were done on non-federal census years, are also here. In addition, you will discover New Jersey city directories, school yearbooks, town histories, naturalization records, family photos and stories submitted by members, passport applications, and so much more.
New Jersey GenWeb: This is another free website with plenty of New Jersey genealogical information. Part of the nationwide US GenWeb project, you will find many miscellaneous genealogy records that have been submitted by users of the site. The records are organized by county and type of record. There is too much here to list, but because the records come from individual users, you will find a lot of things on this site that you simply won’t find anywhere else.
If you ever get the opportunity to go to New Jersey in person to do genealogical research, you will be greeted with many family history treasures that are not located anywhere online. Not every genealogical record in the state has been digitized, and some haven’t even been seen in generations, as they sit in dusty archive buildings waiting for someone to re-discover them or ask to see them. You could make some amazing new family history discoveries with a trip to New Jersey. Going there should definitely be on your list of “things to do” in researching your family tree.
Here are some of the places you will want to explore while you’re in the state:
The New Jersey Historical Society: If you’re looking for a huge repository of genealogical records of all kinds all in one place, this is it. You can spend days or more here, exploring the Society’s vast collections and discovering things you would have never otherwise known about your New Jersey past.
For example, if you are looking for the cemeteries where your ancestors are buried, you can find records here. You’ll also find cemetery transcriptions, many of which were taken decades ago when headstones that are now illegible due to weathering could still be read.
State tax records that mention your ancestors are here, as are collections of the histories of the state’s towns and counties. If your ancestor was a prominent local person, they may be mentioned in one of these collections. You will find maps that show where early settlers lived, military records for soldiers from New Jersey who served from the Revolution through WWII, family Bible records, abstracts of wills, city directories, genealogy charts and family histories for New Jersey families, church records, and old New Jersey newspaper records. It is a New Jersey genealogist’s dream come true.
County Courthouses: If you know (or discover) the county where your New Jersey ancestors lived, be sure to pay a visit to the county courthouse while you’re in the state. Land and probate records are kept at the county level and can go back hundreds of years in some places. These records will tell you where your ancestors lived and what they owned and may include other important personal details of their lives that will give you a better idea of what type of people they were, and make them come alive again, which is an important part of genealogy. Visiting New Jersey in person can help you really get to know your ancestors.
If you have New Jersey ancestors, you now have all the sources you need to get started researching them. Once you start finding records, they will help you connect one generation to another, and lead you to other records you would never have otherwise discovered. Your New Jersey ancestors are waiting for you. Start looking for them and you will be amazed at what is available for you to find.
Free Genealogy Lookups in New Jersey:
- New Jersey Family Histories #1, 1600s-1800s
- Colonial New Jersey Source Records, 1600s-1800s
- Marriage Index: New Jersey, 1680-1900
- The New Jersey Biographical Index, 1800s
- Marriage Index: New York City, 1600s-1800s
- Vital Records: New Netherland, 1600s
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)