Author Archives: Maria Baratta

Research Sources – Primary, Secondary and Tertiary

Trenton’s annual Patriots Week celebration runs from Thursday, December 26, 2019 through Tuesday, December 31, 2019.  Attendees learn about the events and people from Trenton’s history during the Revolutionary War.

History is a study of the past.  This includes the action of people and the occurrence of events.  What sources do researchers use when writing history?

The New Jersey State Library contains original and copies of historic documents, reports, and maps that represent primary, secondary and tertiary sources. That’s why historians love to use our collection and find it to be so valuable in the work they do.


Sample list of Hessian soldiers captured at the Battle of Trenton Dec 26, 1776
A transcription of an original list of Hessian Soldiers captured in the Battle of Trenton December 26, 1776.

A primary source is a first person account of an event.  Letters, diaries, photographs, or eyewitness accounts from news reports all give a sense of what occurred at the time of an event and are are key to understanding history. For example, Continental soldiers compiled a list of Hessian soldiers taken prisoner following the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776.  A transcriptions of the original document provides primary source information.  The original document includes the name, rank, unit and disposition of each soldier captured. Historians and and genealogists appreciate this very specific level of information.

Letter from George Washington requesting provisions from residents of several states
George Washington’s letter requesting provisions from residents of NJ, PA, DE, MD, and VA.

In 1778 General George Washington wrote an open letter to the residents of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.  In it, he asks for support in the way of provisions for his troops in order to continue their campaign against the British.  This letter, with its lofty ideals and eloquent reasoning, is a primary source that was published in the New Jersey Gazette on Wednesday March 4, 1778.

General Washington’s letter is juxtaposed with an advertisement in the same Gazette issue calling for the return of an enslaved man named Levi who fled his enslaver.  Here is a primary source providing two very different stories from the same point in history.  Sources like this give historians a lot to discuss and interpret about the different struggles for freedom occurring at the same time. These discussions and interpretations become secondary sources and are key resources for other researchers to use.

Advertisement asking for return of an enslaved person named Levi
Advertisement asking for return of an enslaved person named Levi



Title page of Stryker's The Battles of Trenton and PrincetonWilliam S. Stryker (b. 1838, d. 1900) researched and wrote about some of the most important historical events pertaining to New Jersey and the Revolutionary war.  He used many primary source documents and included them in the work he compiled.  His commentary and interpretation of the events that occurred in his work titled The Battles of Trenton and Princeton make his original writings secondary sources.  This particular title is priceless to many researchers and history buffs.

Here is an example of the author describing the significance of a correspondence from Colonel Joseph Reed to Colonel von Donop, followed by the text of the original correspondence.

Correspondence from Colonel Joseph Reed to Colonel von Donop
Correspondence from Colonel Joseph Reed to Colonel von Donop


Encyclopedia of New Jersey entry about the Battles of Trenton
Encyclopedia of New Jersey entry about the Battles of Trenton

Finally, a tertiary source is one that distills the information from various sources to give a broad overview of a topic.  Examples of tertiary sources include encyclopedias, handbooks, and textbooks.  Encyclopedia of New Jersey includes an article that provides an overview of the Battle of Trenton.  This information is compiled from various secondary sources.




Join us!

As part of Patriot’s week, on December 26th the State Library will be hosting author William ‘Larry’ Kidder to discuss his book, Ten Crucial Days: Washington’s Vision for Victory Unfolds.  This program will be from 12 pm to 1pm on in the Level 2 Reading Room of the State Library.

Explore PolicyMap

PolicyMap - NJ outline

Check out PolicyMap, a new
digital resource Research Library Spotlightoffered through the New Jersey State Library. Tell a compelling story using maps and data. Support your stakeholders who need location-based information to find local solutions, create new initiatives, prepare grants, or respond to community needs and demands. This service is available for remote access to state employees and Thomas Edison State University staff and students, as well as being available for use onsite in the library to any patron or visitor.

Using data from a variety of sources along with easy to use online mapping tools, researchers can compile customized maps pertaining to demographics, real estate, health, jobs, education and more.




A number of quality of life data sets and data points are also available, which can provide a more intricate profile of communities. Users can generate results that contain state-to-state comparisons or localized results based on counties, zip codes or even census tracts.


Data can be layered with up to 3 different data sets. Data points can also be added to give a larger snapshot of local situations.



In addition to the data sets offered through PolicyMap, users can also upload their own data in order to create customized results. Once a map is created, it can be saved or downloaded or shared with others.


PolicyMap provides a variety of training resources including walk through tutorials on popular features. A downloadable (pdf) primer with a summary of all the product’s features is available in addition to recorded webinars that you can watch at your own pace. Ongoing free, live webinars provide guided assistance on particular features.

PolicyMap is a powerful tool that can help drive decisions based on real data, in real places. If you have questions about PolicyMap or other resources available through the State Library’s Research Library, call or visit us. Email Reference Services at or call (609) 278-2640 x 103.

To contact our Law Library email us at or call (609) 278-2640 x 102. Come visit the State Library at 185 W. State Street in Trenton, between the State House and State Museum.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Told by a chorus of narrators and interspersed with a montage of passages from texts and letters, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is a fictional account of the night Willie Lincoln is buried.  His father’s heartbreak over the death of his young son is the focus of this story.  The turmoil of the Civil War is not especially prominent as the backdrop.  Only as he comes to terms with his son passing does the pressure of the war invade Lincoln’s thoughts.

A series of ghosts narrate the tale.  Their life (but mostly death) stories are brief, but manage to create rich histories for each character.  Written and told through the language of the 1860s, the modern concept of spirituality has no place here.   These are old fashion ghosts and their world has the same inequalities and harsh realities as the physical world.  Slave ghosts and white ghosts are segregated; poor and feeble-minded ghosts are lower class; women ghosts carry the burdens of their earthly life; ghosts of young dandies behave like tamer versions of today’s frat boys.

Social constructs in this limbo mirror the physical world and trap the ghosts in ways that prevent them from realizing they are dead.  There are no children in this ghostly world, for children do not belong here.  As the ghosts struggle to help free Willie’s soul, they come to terms with their own death and this breaks the bonds holding them to the ghost world.

Mixed in with the storytelling are passages from historical and fictional texts, letters, and remembrances of Willie’s death and the impact on the President and his wife.  Through these tales, Lincoln’s humanity and sorrow cast a long shadow over the story.

The account told is a sad chapter in a great man’s life, yet it does have moments of lightness and humor.  The ghosts manage to carry all the imperfections, quirks, and foibles of their former human entities.  This makes them both endearing and annoying to each other.

Lincoln in the Bardo is probably not like anything you’ve read before.  As a work of historical fiction, the actual history surrounding the event has very little to do with the story.  Lincoln’s presidency has no impact on the events occurring in the graveyard.  The ghosts telling the story have no sense of the magnitude of Lincoln’s place in the living world or in history.  Lincoln says very little; he is simply a grieving father.  This creates a universal story to which everyone can relate.


Newly Digitized Collection of Historic African American Bordentown School Newspaper Now Available

The New Jersey Industrial and Manual Training School for Colored Youth, also known simply as the “Bordentown School,” was an African-American boarding school operated by the State of New Jersey. It was founded in 1876 in the Delaware River town of Bordentown, New Jersey, and remained open until December 1954.

Students, as well as many teachers, lived on the school’s sprawling campus. Students were not only required to master a wide variety of academic subjects, such as science and literature, but also took part in maintaining the facilities and learning vocational trades. The school was renowned for the quality and success of its academic programs, and many of its alumni went on to achieve professional success across the country.

The New Jersey State Library recently digitized a selection of the school’s newspaper, The Ironsides Echo, with issues dating as far back as 1935 and as recent as 1955.

The school’s newspaper contains a wide variety of information about events at the school, including details about famous visitors, sports games, and photos of social gatherings.

To view the entire collection of digitized newspapers, please visit the collection page on the New Jersey State Publication Digital Library page:



The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Blog post submitted by Paulette Biancamano

Curious Charms of Arthur PepperDo you like figuring things out?  I do!  And with this story you get to sit back and enjoy a journey of discovery and figuring it out.  This is a wonderful first novel for Phaedra Patrick who is a prize-winning short story writer.  She develops great characters and takes you on an emotional and a traveling journey as well.  Some people only see the surface of life and daily routines.  You need to look beyond what is in front of you.  Arthur Pepper’s charms are found on a bracelet he finds hidden in his deceased wife’s things.  As the story behind each charm is discovered, you’ll become more enamored with Arthur and the people in his life.

It’s a quick easy read I’m sure you will enjoy.  I didn’t want it to end!

Happy reading,

Paulette Biancamano

Researching Your Civil War Ancestors

William Scudder Stryker
William Scudder Stryker

This blog post was written by Jon Bozard, Reference Assistant at the New Jersey State Archives.

I would like to thank everyone that attended Researching Your Civil War Ancestors on Monday November 14th. It was a nice turnout with a great audience and you asked very good questions! I hope that you will be inspired to start or continue your research.

As I stated during the talk there is not one place to get information on Civil War soldiers. Start with what you know about your ancestors. Where did they live? If New Jersey, start with the New Jersey State Archives website, Civil War Service Records.

If you are not sure where they lived, the Soldiers and Sailors Database (National Park Service) may be of use. This has information for all states participating in the Civil War. You will only get information about State, Regiment, and Company but it is a place to start. Whatever state they lived in contact their State Archives and ask what records are available that may help you.

Federal Pension records are a great source to investigate. There are many types of records within pension files; I was only able to cover a few in the time I had for the talk. Do not be afraid to go to the National Archives in Washington DC. You can order these records, but by seeing them in person you are able to hold your ancestors letters and applications in your hands. As these records are digitized you will no longer be able to do this. You may find letters from your Civil War ancestor, their spouse, children or friends. If you go to the National Archives remember to also request their Combined Military Service Record. This record will contain information specific to their time in the military and may have information about battles they participated in.

Closer to home local historical societies where your ancestors lived could have collections relating to Civil War soldiers.

Remember, do not be afraid to ask questions when you visit the Archives – we are here to help you!


Become a Travel Pro: Class Follow-Up

nj-vacationThanks to all who attended my Lunch Time Learning classes held in October.  Below you can find a link to the entire PowerPoint presentation as well as additional links and answers to some questions that were raised during the classes.

Click here to access the presentation files:


Additional Links and Class Questions:

  • A visitor to the first class mentioned that Google now also has a product very similar to TripIt.  It is called Google Trips.  Google describes this free service as follows:
    • Google Trips makes it easier than ever to plan and organize your trips. It automatically maps out a half day or a full day with suggestions for things to see and do. Don’t like what you see? Tap the “magic wand” to see more nearby sights. Each tap of the wand gives you a fresh set of nearby attractions.

  • Another class member asked about other resources for finding discounted flight deals.  There are several blogs and sites that try and post popular flight deals.  One that I have had a good experience using is called Scott’s Cheap Flights.  This is a free email newsletter that gives alerts for cheap international flights.  There is a paid and free version of the newsletter and it provides flight deals as they become available to destinations across the globe.
  • To request travel books from the library using inter-library loan please click here for detailed instructions.

If you have any other question please feel free to email or call me.  My contact information is below.  Happy Travels!

Take a Virtual Tour of the State Library Information Center’s U.S. Government Documents Collection

Take a Virtual Tour:

Learn more about the many useful resources available to you from the State Library Information Center’s U.S. Government Documents Collection from the comfort of your computer screen.

  • Teri Taylor, the New Jersey State Library’s U.S. Documents Librarian, covers the ins and outs of the collection by presenting the types of materials the collection holds and how to search and find those materials. Teri also provides information on a number of online resources and subscription databases offered by the library.

Effective Volunteer Management


Thank you again for attending the September 22nd Lunchtime Learning session, Effective Volunteer Management, presented by Karen Carson as part of the New Jersey State Library’s Lunchtime Learning series.

A list of references and an outline of topics covered in the class can be found linked below.

Also linked in this post is the registration information and the agenda for the New Jersey Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism to be held Friday, October 21st at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick. Individuals from a variety of community organizations attend this conference which is held every two years. My presentation topic this year is Difficult Volunteers.

Effective Volunteer Management Outline

Effective Volunteer Management References

New Jersey Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism


Some of you were interested in awards information for your volunteers. Here is the information about the Jefferson Awards:

The New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards honor ordinary people who, through volunteer service, do extraordinary things for other people, their community, their nation, or the environment.

To nominate an individual or group for these awards, highlight your nominee’s service and/or achievements by completing the online nomination form. Honorees in various categories are recognized at a New Jersey ceremony in Spring 2017. In June 2017, a select group of honorees will be invited to participate in a national Jefferson Award ceremony taking place in Washington, D.C.

Nomination deadline: January 31, 2017
Send in your nomination today at:


Explore a Storymap of an Early Handwritten Manuscript of Books Held by the State Library in 1796

Early List of Books from The New Jersey State Library StoryMap

(The background image shown in the StoryMap is from the original manuscript and was provided by the New Jersey State Archives, Department of State.)

Using research conducted by the New Jersey State Library’s now-retired genealogist, John Shaw, an interactive StoryMap has been created.  It displays a high resolution scan of an early inventory of books held by the New Jersey State Library in 1796.

In 1796 the Clerk of the House, Maskell Ewing, was directed to “enter on the minutes of the House of this day the titles and names of the several books now belonging to the New Jersey Legislature.” Thirty-three titles appear on his list.  -John Shaw

Using this StoryMap you can examine the handwritten manuscript created by Maskell Ewing in 1796.   While browsing the manuscript you will be able to view each book’s title page, bibliographic information, and see if it is still held in the New Jersey State Library’s collections to this day.

storymap example page
#27 Journals of the Assembly of Pennsylvania from 1780 to 1790 incomplete.

The Storymap was created using free software offered by the Knight Foundation’s Knight Lab.

To learn more about the early history of the New Jersey State Library, you can read John Shaw’s “Genesis of the New Jersey State Library 1703 – 1796 : A documentary history” online in our New Jersey State Publications Digital Library.

If you have any questions about the project or any questions concerning the history of the New Jersey State Library please do not hesitate to contact the State Library Information Center.

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

cover_girl_waits_with_gun_amy_stewartGirl Waits With Gun is set in New Jersey, and is based on newspaper accounts of one Constance Kopp and her struggle to see justice served after local hooligans ram her horse and buggy with one of those dangerous newfangled automobiles. You can hire a Louisiana traffic ticket lawyer, most of which aren’t very expensive and have a speciality in beating traffic tickets. For those who are facing license suspension or have multiple tickets, this is especially important.  We know that your injuries will have a great impact on your life and you might not even be able to return to work. That means that your bills will start to pile up and it can seem like there is just no way out, but we want you to know that there is a way out of your financial predicament. The state of California clearly states that you deserve to be compensated for your pain, loss of wages, medical bills, and other suffering. We are the San Bernardino law offices personal injury attorneys who will help you get a favorable outcome as fast as possible!

After being a bit disappointed in a few of my recent reads, I’m pleased to say that I liked everything about Girl Waits With Gun. The book incorporates historical newspaper coverage about the events from papers around the tri-state area, and it’s a fun, well-written read – clever, witty, and moving, as well.  You can click here to go on The Angell Law Firm for the best attorney in the  Atlanta. When you find yourself in financial crisis and other alternatives do not seem to provide a feasible solution, you need to begin considering filing bankruptcy as a way to protect yourself and any assets you may want to retain from your creditors. You can check this article from explains. Equally as important as this decision is that of selecting the right bankruptcy attorney. Most bankruptcy attorneys are associated with a law firm, so it’s important that your research goes beyond that of the individual alone. If you are facing bankruptcy you are probably experiencing severe financial problems. The last thing you want is to incur more expenses. You may be thinking that you would not even need a bankruptcy attorney if you could afford to have one in the first place. However, one of the expenses you should never cut back on is a good bankruptcy attorney. The field of bankruptcy is a complicated one with many minefields. You cannot go without the expertise or skill of a good bankruptcy attorney during this process. There are far too many opportunities to get something wrong and destroy your entire case. You will be much better off if you hire a bankruptcy attorney. What is complicated for the every day man and woman on the street is a daily activity for bankruptcy attorneys. The new jersey Bankruptcy Attorney provide best possible legal service. If you choose to represent yourself in court, there’re a few things to consider to increase your chances of winning. To begin with, you need to show up for the trial with any or all the evidence you have, such as any photos of the road conditions, photos of strange road conditions, obstructed speed limit signs, or pictures of the position the officer was standing if you think that their view was obstructed. Apart from all of that, ensure that you have thought through your particular argument and you’re fully aware of what you have to say to contest your traffic ticket. A lot of people attend hoping that the officer won’t appear and eventually lose.this article from explains case since they were not prepared.

A Kopp sisters newspaper clipping from the Trenton Times, 11/23/1914.

Constance and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, live on an isolated farm in rural Bergen County, outside of Paterson, NJ. If the Kopp sisters are not regarded as downright eccentric, they would definitely be considered a bit unconventional, especially by 1914 standards. The action starts when their horse and buggy is involved in a hit-and-run accident with Henry Kaufman, both head of Kaufman Silk Dyeing Company in Paterson, and a nefarious ne’er-do-well, so they decide to get an accident injury lawyer from sites as When Constance attempts to recoup the cost of damages to her buggy, Kaufman lets loose the first volley in an escalating war between them, and neither party is willing to budge an inch. If you are injured in a traffic collision, and your injury was caused by another driver’s negligence, you need an experienced Bronx personal injury lawyer, For more details about personal injury lawyer go through our official site. Their skilled team has extensive experience in a broad range of personal injury practice areas, If you need a Gilbert personal injury lawyer that truly understands how best to represent you. The offices of hogle injury law can help. Our team of attorneys will partner with you to help resolve all personal injury issues. The adventure that ensues includes well-armed ladies, missing children, hidden identities and scandalous family secrets, and a satisfying ending that includes an unexpected payoff. There is even a suggestion of more Kopp sisters stories to come! You can speak to a car wreck lawyer in Atlanta, no matter how you were hurt, if your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should learn about your legal rights. You can check out the post right here to know more about the Los Angeles Robbery lawyer.

Constance, Norma, and Fleurette are eminently likeable; their voices each distinct and interesting. The story moves along at a lovely pace, propelled by snippets from the news, and the action is tempered with well-wrought character development. By the end of Girl Waits With Gun, I was really charmed by these characters, and enjoyed spending time with them; I’m tremendously pleased I’ll get the chance to visit with them again in future volumes.

Girl Waits With Gun Stewart, Amy.
F STE McNaughton – Level 3

The New Jersey State Library on!

The August new books list is out.

1454549160-1454549160_goodreads_miscThanks to everyone who attended the webinar held on June 24, 2016 about Goodreads!

The webinar covered what Goodreads is – it’s a social networking site for people who love to read, and a convenient place to track and review books (and audiobooks) that you’re reading, have read, or want to read.

The webinar was recorded, and you can find that recording here:

Join the New Jersey State Library on!

Some of the many features we covered were setting up an account, adding titles we’re reading or have read to our shelves, and finding friends.

There were a few questions asked during the course of the webinar that I was unable to address at that time; specifically,  an attendee asked that now that Amazon owns the Goodreads website, have I found that Amazon sends me e-mail or recommends titles that I’ve look at on Goodreads? Personally, I haven’t, but I’ve also gone into Goodreads under “Account Settings,” then to “Email Settings,” and changed my preferences so that I don’t receive a lot of promotional e-mail from Goodreads. I’ve done the same thing with Amazon – “Your Account,” and then “Message Center,” so I haven’t received anything from Amazon that wasn’t an order or shipping confirmation. Having said that, I have no idea what type of data Amazon is tracking with Goodreads, or what they are doing with it. You do have the option to add titles to Goodreads that you’ve purchased at Amazon, but that’s an optional step, and not necessary if you’re not interested in linking up those two sites.

There were also a few things I’d forgotten to mention that I really wanted to point out. For instance, if you head over to the NJSL Goodreads page, you can take a look at our bookshelves – all of those titles are in the Recent Fiction collection on the third floor. I add them to the shelf as they arrive in the library, so it’s a fairly accurate reflection of the collection’s recent acquisitions. You can see them all here:

New Books in Recent Fiction at the New Jersey State Library.

Take a look at the New Jersey State Library’s Goodreads Page.

And join the New Jersey State Library’s Online Book Café.

Come and join in on the discussion!