Research strategies for finding New Jersey government documents online
Thank you all for coming to Basse with me earlier this week! (The verb to Basse, of course, meaning to immerse oneself in all things related to Jeremiah Basse.) I hope you enjoyed learning more about the genealogy of one of New Jersey’s earliest governors.
During the presentation, we not only reviewed biographical details of Basse family members, but some important resources for colonial New Jersey genealogical research.
The Extracts from American Newspapers Relating to New Jersey can be a gold mine of genealogical information. Using this resource, I was able to find articles relating to deaths, land sales, and even a marriage announcement for Ann, one of Jeremiah Basse’s daughters. This series covers 1703-1782, and is available in print both at the New Jersey State Library and the State Archives. You may also find some of the volumes digitized online.
Colonial New Jersey Deeds are indexed in the Early Land Records Database. Deeds may trace the history of property ownership or summarize a bequest left in a will. If family members are selling land together, a deed will also often define the relationship between individuals selling land. Using deeds, I proved that Katherine Pierce and Ann Pidgeon were sisters and also identified their parents and brother. I was also able to connect Jeremiah Basse to his mother and some siblings thanks to a deed.
I had fun detailing what I learned about the Basse family through my research and share some of the mysteries I still have to unlock. If you’re curious to learn more about the Basses or need some brainstorming help on your own colonial research, please feel free to e-mail me.
The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was first detected on September 8th when a pressure fall and erratic winds were noted around the Windward Islands. Named the Great Atlantic Hurricane by the Miami Weather Bureau, it barreled up the east coast reaching over a 500 mile radius.
Before the storm hit New Jersey it pelted towns with heavy rainfall for days. Hundreds of homeowners and holiday makers left the shore towns and sought safety inland. On September 14th the storm hammered New Jersey with great force doing major damage to Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Atlantic City and Cape May. Telephone and utility poles were washed away, cars and trolleys were stranded, and bridges connecting some towns on barrier islands were destroyed.
The State Library has multiple resources to discover more about this storm. In 1944 the New Jersey State Police did a thorough (over 400 pages) town-by-town inventory of the damage the storm caused along with reports submitted by the departments of Agriculture, Institutions and Agencies, Conservation and Development, Highway and the Civilian Defense Council. Many lives were saved due to the Civilian Defense Council (who were a volunteer group set up to protect civilians in case of a war emergency) warning and evacuating residents from danger zones.
The Atlantic City area sustained millions of dollars’ worth of damage with all utilities and transportation disrupted. In some places whole sections of the boardwalk, with rails and benches still intact were blown four blocks inland. The Brigantine City Bridge connecting the island to the mainland was destroyed.
While news of the allied advancement in World War II figured prominently in newspapers of the time, there was still room for front page coverage of the impending storm and then its aftermath.
The State Library’s subscription to ProQuest’s Historical Newspapers offers access to the Asbury Evening Press from that time period (1905-1974) and the Plainfield Courier-News (1894-1961) along with other newspapers from the northeast. The Plainfield Courier-News reported that “Plainfield and its vicinity looked today like something a battalion of paratroopers had worked over” and that the estimated damage in total was over 20 million dollars.
Accessing these collections
A good overview of the storm can be found in Great Storms of the Jersey Shore by Larry Savadove and Margaret Thomas Buchholz which is available for in-person or interlibrary loan (call number J551.55 S263)
Many photographs can be freely viewed in our 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane collection.
Our collection of historical newspapers can be accessed remotely by New Jersey state employees and by anyone within the State Library. Additional digitized content can be located using our guide to New Jersey Digitized Historic Newspapers.
The New Jersey State Police town-by-town inventory of storm damage is called the State of New Jersey Report of Hurricane Damage September 14, 1944 (call number 974.90 H966 1944) and can be viewed in the library.
The New Jersey State Library is proud to partner with Rutgers University and the New Jersey State Archives in the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project, a collaborative effort to digitize, preserve, and promote New Jersey’s historic newspapers. Thanks to grant funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities, some 200,000 newspaper pages will be digitized, cataloged and made freely available to the public.
As a part of the project, the New Jersey State Library has created a guide of all known digitized newspapers in the State. This guide features an interactive map of New Jersey to help researchers identify which newspapers are available for a particular city or geographic region. The guide also lists digitized newspapers by county and city, with links to the digitized collection.
While many of these newspapers are freely available online, others can only be accessed from public libraries or college/universities with a subscription to a commercial database. The guide indicates if a particular newspaper is freely available or available through one of these commercial subscriptions. State employees can check with the New Jersey State Library and members of the public can check with their local library to see if they have a subscription.
An Excel spreadsheet listing all newspapers in the guide is also available for download. Additional research resources, such as the New Jersey Newspaper Directory, 1765-1970, and the list of New Jersey local names have been made available as well.
To have your digitized newspaper project added to our list or to provide additional information about other digitized New Jersey newspapers, please contact Caitlyn Cook, New Jersey Reference & Digital Librarian
Interested in tracing your New Jersey Family History? Not sure where to start? Regina Fitzpatrick, our Genealogy Librarian, will review genealogy basics and strategies for collecting information before visiting a repository. We will also discuss great resources to discover your ancestors at the New Jersey State Library and other repositories.
Want to get started before the class?
Check out the Genealogy LibGuide!
Please Note: This program is a webinarClick here to register!