New Jersey History and Research Overview

By Family Tree Editors Premium

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter Plus, you’ll receive our 10 Essential Genealogy Research Forms PDF as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


The Dutch attempted to settle the area that became New Jersey in the early 1600s, but it wasn’t until the Swedes and Finns settled New Sweden along the Delaware River that things began to take hold. Some of those living in New Netherland (eventually New York) gained control, and Dutch farmers began to move into New Jersey.

Official New Jersey history is generally accepted to have started in 1664, when the British conquered New Netherland, and New Jersey was divided and granted to two proprietors. The king granted East Jersey to Sir George Carteret and West Jersey went to Lord John Berkeley. Within a year, there was a major influx of settlers from New England and New York, specifically Long Island.

You will also find a number of Quakers in New Jersey. William Penn and other early Quakers purchased the proprietorships from Berkeley and Carteret between 1672 and 1682.

(click to enlarge)
New Jersey state map with county outlines


  • Some of the state’s earliest records were destroyed during the American Revolution.
  • New Jersey was a natural migration route to other New England states, especially East Jersey, in the latter 1600s.
  • New Englanders brought their record-keeping practices with them to East Jersey. Town records may contain vital records and other documents with genealogical value.
  • Some marriage records are hiding in deed books. These books are indexed in Index of Names to Various Records in Various New Jersey Counties, 1600-1800s, on microfilm at the Family History Library.


  • Federal census: 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Federal mortality schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
  • Special census of Civil War Union veterans and widows: 1890
  • State/territorial census: 1855 (incomplete), 1865 (incomplete), 1875 (Essex and Sussex counties only), 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915


  • The Biographical Encyclopedia of New Jersey of the Nineteenth Century (Microfilming Corporation of America, 1983)
  • The Catholic Church in New Jersey by Joseph M. Flynn (1904)
  • Church Records in New Jersey by William Nelson (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1985)
  • Collection of Family Data by Gilbert Cope (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966)
  • Collection, Family File by John Pickens Dornan (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971)
  • The Complete Public Records Guide: Central and Northern New Jersey Region by Fred D. Knapp (Reyn, 1993)
  • Cyclopedia of New Jersey Biography: Memorial and Biographical compiled with the assistance of the Advisory Committee (American Historical Society, 1923)
  • Directory of Churches in New Jersey, 10 vols., prepared by the New Jersey Historical Records Survey (Historical Records Survey, 1940-1941)
  • Directory of New Jersey Newspapers, 1765-1970 edited by William C. Wright and Paul A. Stellhorn (New Jersey Historical Commission, 1977)
  • Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey (The Daily Journal Establishment, 1880-1949)
  • Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1665-1800 edited by William Nelson (Archives of the State of New Jersey, vol. 22, 1900)
  • Dutch Systems in Family Naming, New York-New Jersey by Rosalie Fellows Bailey (National Genealogical Society Bookstore, 1965)
  • The Early Germans of New Jersey; Their History, Churches, and Genealogies by Theodore Frelinghuysen Chambers (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969)
  • Family Records: Or, Genealogies of the First Settlers of Passaic Valley (and Vicinity) by John Littell (General Publishing Co., 1976)
  • The First Laws of the State of New Jersey edited by John D. Cushing (Michael Glazier, Inc., 1981)
  • First Settlers of Ye Plantations of Piscataway and Woodbridge, olde East New Jersey, 1664-1714, a Period of Fifty Years by Orra Eugene Monette (The Leroy Carman Press, 1930)
  • Genealogical Collection by the Genealogical Society of New Jersey (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971)
  • Genealogical and Memorial History of the State of New Jersey compiled and edited by Francis Bazley Lee (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1967)
  • Genealogical Resources in Southern New Jersey by Edith Hoelle (Gloucester County Historical Society, 1989)
  • Genealogy of Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing, “Old Hunterdon County,” New Jersey by Eli F. and William Cooley (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977)
  • General Index to the Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey: First in Series, in Ten Volumes prepared by Frederick W. Ricord (Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, 1994)
  • Guide to Family History Sources in the New Jersey State Archives, 2nd edition, compiled by Bette Marie Barker, et al. (Division of Archives and Records Management, 1990)
  • Guide to Local Church Records in the Archives of the Reformed Church in America and to Genealogical Resources in the Gardner Sage Library: New Brunswick Theological Seminary edited by Russell L. Gasero (Historical Society of the Reformed Church in America, 1979)
  • Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society compiled by Don C. Skemer and Robert C. Morris (The Society, 1979)
  • Guide to the Manuscript Collection of the Rutgers University Library compiled by Herbert F. Smith (Rutgers University Library, 1964)
  • Guide to Vital Statistics Records in New Jersey, 2 vols., prepared by the New Jersey Historical Records Survey (1941)
  • Historical Collections of New Jersey: Historical and Genealogical Files, 1600’s to 1900’s by the Gloucester County Historical Society by John Warner Barber, assisted by Henry Howe (Reprint, 1966) (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1976)
  • Historical and Genealogical Miscellany; Data Relating to the Settlement and Settlers of New York and New Jersey, 5 vols., by John E. Stillwell (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970)
  • Historical Organizations in New Jersey: A Directory compiled by Mary Alice Quigley, et al. (New Jersey Historical Commission, 1983)
  • History and Genealogy of Fenwick’s Colony by Thomas Shourds (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1976)
  • The Huguenots or Early French in New Jersey by Albert F. Koehler (University Microfilms International, 1985)
  • Indentures Collection Containing Deeds, Bonds, Commissions, etc. of New Jersey Individuals: And Other States, 1600-1900 (Genealogical Society of Utah, 1970)
  • Index of Names to Various Records in Various New Jersey Counties, 1600s-1800s (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1972)
  • The Judicial and Civil History of New Jersey by John Whitehead (Lawbook Exchange, 2004)
  • Memorial Cyclopedia of New Jersey, 3 vols., by Mary Depue Ogden (Memorial History Co., 1915-17)
  • A Narrative and Descriptive Bibliography of New Jersey by Nelson R. Burr (Van Nostrand, 1964)
  • Nelson’s Biographical Cyclopedia of New Jersey edited by William Nelson (Eastern Historical Publishing Society, 1913)
  • New Jersey Bible Records, 1700’s to 1800’s, vols., 3-5, 13, compiled by Martha Knowles Collins (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971)
  • New Jersey Biographical Card Index, 1790-1900 by Trinity Episcopal Church (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2000)
  • New Jersey Biographical and Genealogical Notes From the Volumes of the New Jersey Archives, With Additions and Supplements by William Nelson (The Society, 1916)
  • A New Jersey Biographical Index compiled by Donald Arleigh Sinclair (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993)
  • New Jersey: Digging for Ancestors in the Garden State by Kenn Stryker-Rodda (Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1984)
  • New Jersey Ethnic History: A Bibliography compiled by David Steven Cohen (New Jersey Historical Commission, 1986)
  • New Jersey from Colony to State, 1609-1789 by Richard Patrick McCormick (Rutgers, 1964)
  • New Jersey Historical Manuscripts: A Guide to Collections in the State compiled by Mary R. Murrin (New Jersey Historical Commission, 1987)
  • New Jersey, a History, 6 vols., edited by Irving S. Kull (American Historical Society, 1930-1932)
  • New Jersey Research Outline by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (online at
  • New Jersey Tax Lists, 1772-1822, 4 vols., edited by Ronald Vern Jackson (Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1981)
  • Northwest New Jersey: A History of Somerset, Morris, Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties, 4 vols., by Abraham Van Doren Honeyman (Lewis Publishing Company, Inc., 1927)
  • Notices From New Jersey Newspapers, 2 vols., by Thomas B. Wilson and Dorothy Agans Stratford (Hunterdon House, ca. 1988, ca. 2002)
  • Old Farm by Andrew D. Mellick (Rutgers University Press, 1961, ca. 1948)
  • Pennsylvania and Middle Atlantic States Genealogical Manuscripts compiled by Carlyle J. Parker (Marietta Publishing Co., 1986)
  • Pioneer Families of Northwestern New Jersey by William C. Armstrong (Hunterdon House, 1979)
  • Register of New Jersey County Tax Ratables, Abstracts and Exempt Lists, 1773 to About 1889 (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969)
  • South Jersey, a History, 1664-1924, 5 vols., by Alfred Miller Heston (Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1924)
  • The Stockton Genealogy: Plate 1, Generations 1-4 by Elias Boudinot Stockton (L.C. Photoduplication Service, 1986)
  • The Story of New Jersey, 5 vols., edited by William Starr Myers (Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1945)
  • The Story of New Jersey’s Civil Boundaries 1606-1968 by John P. Snyder (Bureau of Geology and Topography, 1969).
  • Year Book of the Holland Society of New York by Henricus Selyns and the Holland Society of New York (The Society, 1886)

Return to the main New Jersey page

From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.