Got NJ Images? Get Digitized

Do you have old family photos that help tell stories of New Jersey days gone by?

Then check out MyJerseyRoots, a project being  launched by the Rutgers University Libraries as part of Rutgers Day — Saturday, April 30, when all sorts of events run campuswide from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Stephanie Bartz of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey list (and Rutgers University’s Alexander Library), MyJerseyRoots offers New Jersey citizens the opportunity to “document the everyday life of our cities, small towns and rural communities from past to present,” an excellent idea. Today’s family keepsake can be tomorrow’s historical treasure! If you think you can drop by the main campus in New Brunswick with some interesting old photos, read on.

On Rutgers Day you can bring up to five images to the Alexander Library (169 College Ave., 4th floor), where Rutgers Library personnel will scan, digitize and record information that documents the photos. The library says the sorts of images they’re seeking include:

  • photos of people, families, and/or neighborhood groups
  • street scenes
  • pictures at street fairs, parades, and other events
  • pictures of houses/farms/office buildings/businesses
  • pictures in and of religious institutions
  • school photos – either of classes or activities
  • photos of clubs, organizations, and civic groups

An added bonus: The first 25 participants in the digitization program will receive a free USB flash drive. There will also be brochures prepared by library staff, containing basic tips for photo preservation.

For more information on MyJerseyRoots, take a trip on the New Jersey Digital Highway. Full press release on the photo-preservation event is here. And for other interesting programs at the Library on Rutgers Day, click here.


Events: Irish Family History at Drew University

I’m looking forward to April 16. You’re probably saying, “Who isn’t?” But not only is April 16 the day after Tax Day, it’s also the day for this:

Emigrants and Exiles, An Irish Family History Symposium

It’s taking place practically in my own backyard, at Drew University in Madison, N.J. Check out the speakers and topics. Excellent stuff!

* Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, “Right Annie, Wrong Annie”

* Professor Christine Kinealy, “The Famine is only part of the Story. Why your ancestors came to America”

* Dr Anne Rodda, CG, “Immigrant Imprints: American and Irish records that tell the story”

* Claire Keenan Agthe, “Offbeat records for New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia”

* Judy Campbell, “Family History Search Catches a Tammany Tiger”

* Alan Delozier, “Family History from a Religious Perspective”

* Julie Sakellariadis, “Imagining the Past: Using Historical Resources to Find Stories from the Past”

* Dr Thomas Callahan Jr., “Looking For Katie: The McCormack Family in America”

The link takes you to the website of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey, which is co-sponsoring the event with Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. You can download a .pdf file of the conference brochure and registration form, if you are in the area and might like to attend.


1885 NJ Census Index at FamilySearch

A great new aid for finding families in this record, and apparently it only just went up. Here is the link to the searchable index.

This is an online name index only. To see an image you need to order the film from a Family History Center. If you find the name you’re looking for, you’ll also see the film number on the entry, along with the page number and family number.

Or, if you’re in NJ, you could see it at the NJ State Library in Trenton at 185 West State Street. Here is a chart that explains the ins and outs of New Jersey censuses and tax lists since 1772 — what’s destroyed, what’s survived and where you can find it at the library or state archives. Very useful.

h/t to Gary at the NJ-GSNJ list.


Death Records Added: NJ Archives

Via Joan Manierre Lowry of the NJ-GSNJ listserve comes this announcement:

The New Jersey State Archives has now added several more years to the death
records available on microfilm at the Archives.  Death records from 1941
through 1946 are now available in the microfilm search room!  Another 9
years will be coming soon.  These are provided as a public service to
researchers and can be copied.  (And, yes, they DO include the cause of
death!)

Remember, however, that these records are available for in-person use only
and the archives staff cannot assist with mail or email requests for these
records at this time.  (Archives staff can only provide copies from those
records for which they hold originals.  At the present time that includes up
through 1900.)

If you cannot get to the records in person, remember we provide a list of
professional researchers on the GSNJ website:  www.gsnj.org – then click on
“Professional Researchers” in the left hand column.

As Joan says — happy hunting!


New at the NJ Archives: WWI Casualty Index

I missed this in the mad rush to Christmas Day!

On Dec. 23, the New Jersey State Archives launched a new database: World War I Casualties: Descriptive Cards and Photographs. It includes 3,427 entries for New Jersey soldiers killed during 1917-1918. These entries reflect data cards issued to adjutant generals for recording details about soldiers killed in action (or who died of other causes while on duty). Often, they include a photograph as well.

If you go to the link, you can search by surname. The list of results will tell you whether there’s a card there and whether it has a photo as well.

I don’t have any NJ-based World War I soldiers in my own tree, but I pulled up an entry to see what can be seen. It included a service photograph plus a nice clear scan of the index card, which includes spaces for the soldier’s name, residence of record, birthplace, age, service record, engagements fought in, rank, date of service, date of death and name of the person notified of the death.

Even if every space isn’t filled in (this particular card didn’t list the engagements fought), there is still lots of potentially useful information. And the photos are incredible.

(H/t to the NJ-GSNJ mail list.)


Follow Friday: The New Jersey Churchscape

Having grown up in New Jersey, I’m an old hand at observing our bizarrely fractured PR image. You can be standing on a beautiful mountain trail or biking alongside a serene canal, and meet somebody who still can’t resist weighing in on how tacky Jersey is, seeing as it’s overflowing with Sopranos, Real Housewives and Jersey Shore punks, blah-blah-blah.

The Seventh-Day Baptist Church in Plainfield, NJ. From "New Jersey Churchscape."

“But you’re in New Jersey,” you’ll point out, gesturing at the peaceful, sublime landscape all around.

“Oh, well, I don’t mean this Jersey.”

Of course not. They never do.

They never mean the New Jersey of New Jersey Churchscape, either. Well, their loss. However, if your genealogy path leads to New Jersey, or if you just love knowledgeable discussions of church architecture,  you may well wish to pay this lovely site a visit.

Want to see a picture of your ancestors’ church? Try searching the index of photographs of historic churches from all over the state. Interested in learning about a specific church architect? Check to see if there’s an entry in the Architects & Builders index, alphabetized by last name.

There are regular articles on architectural topics. This month’s is “Twins,” all about buildings which share design influences. Or this article about two congregations whose church styles expressed their language of dissent in radically different ways. New Jersey Churchscape also keeps track of endangered buildings which face decay, redevelopment or worst of all, demolition.

I tell you, I have ruined many a Lee Press-On Nail clicking through this site.

Just kidding about the Press-On Nail part. The rest is on the level. The New Jersey Churchscape is a great place to visit.


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