New Jersey Genealogy
In the United States, generally speaking, each state has jurisdiction over the government records that are kept regarding their inhabitants' births, marriages, deaths, divorces, land transactions, probates, health, disease, education etc. They were not responsible for private record-keeping efforts such as those done by churches, cemeteries, community groups, companies, businesses etc. Certain cities also participated in early record-keeping efforts even prior to their state's commencement of such things. And then there are numerous other entities involved with keeping records; these include shipping lines, publication companies (city and county directories, and phone books), orphanages, hospitals and military organizations.
If you are researching your genealogy in New Jersey, then this article is for you. We will look specifically at websites and other research aids that will help you with your New Jersey genealogy. One of the first things I like to do when researching in an unfamiliar area is to get a map of the place - state, county or city (or country if foreign). This allows me to see not only where the individuals lived but also where they might have traveled. In early years, a good topographical map can be invaluable to see where and how people migrated. If you have looked for your genealogy in New Jersey, you will know that it is in a cluster of small states that are and were heavily populated mainly by immigrants who came from across the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, my genealogy includes an Irish immigrant ancestor who came to New Jersey, married a girl from New York in Maryland, and moved up to Canada with his two young sons. They could also just as easily have had ties in Pennsylvania and Delaware as well!
There are a number of web sites that will allow you, for a subscription fee, to search original records for your genealogy in New Jersey. Some sites will connect you with repositories that have these records, some will connect you with people who are willing to do research for you (generally for a few but not always), and some will simply let you know what is available and where the records can be found. More and more societies and libraries are making their services available to researchers as well.
One site that combines a number of well-known online tools is http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njgenweb/. Not only do you have links to Rootsweb and Ancestry, but you can connect with GenWeb which relies on volunteers to do transcribing and make other research contributions.
The web site http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~natalieb/gen.htm gets you into sources that are available at Rutgers University, with links to www.familysearch.org to find out where local family history centers are located, where to write for vital records, and the GenWeb society.
Another good site, http://www.cyndislist.com/nj.htm, is essential for finding all sorts of internet sources not only for New Jersey genealogy but research throughout the world if you just go to http://www.cyndislist.com. Other good web sites include http://distantcousin.com/States/NJ/, http://www.gsnj.org/, http://www.njgen.com/advice.htm, and http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/usa/nj/index.shtml.
After I have done all I can online, I prefer to document information by going to the original source to make sure I have not only all the information but that it is accurate. When indexes are created and articles or other hand-written material are transcribed, a multitude of errors can creep in. You can obtain a research outline of sources for New Jersey genealogy by going to http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/RG/frameset_rg.asp?Dest=G1&Aid=&Gid=&Lid=&Sid=&Did=&Juris1=&Event=&Year=&Gloss=&Sub=&Tab=&Entry=&Guide=New_Jersey.ASP. This takes you to the Research Guidance information of the written content available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT. By clicking on a topic and following links, you will find out the call number of microfilmed original material that you can order to your local family history center. For photos and other graphics, you may need to travel or visit web sites that specialize in certain types of records, such as www.findagrave.com to which people have submitted photos.
Finding your genealogy in New Jersey can be fun but be sure to document your research and remember that migration will likely fit into the picture at some point.