Friday, October 28, 2011

New Jersey Death Index at has published online indexes for deaths in New Jersey 1798-1971 and births/christenings 1660-1931.  The information is based on the indexes available (for free) at  These indexes are fantastic for genealogical research in New Jersey.  The New Jersey Division of Archives and Records Management (NJDARM) has free online indexes for marriages for 1655-1799 and 1848-1878, as well as deaths from 1878-1887. also has an index for New Jersey marriages from 1678-1985, which is not exhaustive.

I have successfully used these indexes to locate pertinent records.  But I must offer some guidance as you use these indexes.  First, all indexes can contain errors or omissions because they were made by humans.  Merely because something is appearing on your computer screen does not mean that the computer checked the information for accuracy.  Plus, how your family now spells your last name may not be how it was spelled 200 years ago, or how it looked to the person deciphering the handwriting to produce a neatly typed version.

Second, and this is very important, the indexes for deaths can be off by one year.  This is because deaths in certain time periods were organized not from January through December of one particular year, but rather from July of one year through June of the following year.  You need to follow through on an index entry by finding the original record to verify the name and date of death (and possibly learn names of parents and burial location).

Below is an example of the error in year.  Eliakim Marsh died in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey on 15 January 1881.  Here is his death certificate copied in Trenton at the NJDARM.  (Remember that only the indexes are online.  The actual records are housed in Trenton.  You need to request a copy by mail or go in person.)

The index at the NJDARM has his correct year of death as 1881.

New Jersey Division of Archives and Records Management

Yet the indexes at and now have the year of death as 1880, off by one year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Jersey Death Certificates available through 1955

The New Jersey State Archives has added death certificates through 1955 to its collection, expanding on the recent addition of years 1941-1946.

The certificates for some years are in alphabetical order, while others are organized by an assigned file number.  An index exists to discover the number.  The index contains the month, but not day, of death.  The place of residence and place of death are also listed by code.

Index for Deaths in New Jersey in 1955
Durham through Dvorak
Copied from microfilm at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton

As with any index, watch for errors.

Index entry for Ellen Duryea, nee Byard, misspelled DURYRA.
She died 5 February 1955 in Jersey City.

The addition of these years is most welcome for two reasons.  First, searching for a record yourself can be faster and more accurate.  Second, New Jersey has a pesky "habit" of blocking the cause of death in official copies.  There are supposed exceptions to this rule, but I can attest from my ordering history that this rule is not consistently followed.  For those of you who feel the need to know what ailments caused the demise of your ancestors, blocking the cause of death thwarts your efforts to know your family's medical history.  For others, the blocked area makes for an unappealing copy.

Death certificate for Clara Lutter, nee Uhl, died 5 April 1955 in Newark.
Obtained through the Department of Health and Senior Services.
The cause of death is blocked, even though I am a direct descendant with the same last name.
Same death certificate obtained at the Archives, enabling the cause of death to be known.
She died of a kidney failure, which is not unusual in a ninety year old.
More intriguing is why the family had her autopsied.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Catholic Cemetery Records Online

The website for the Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey) has placed on their website a free, searchable index of burials at eight Catholic cemeteries.  Included are:  Maryrest in Mahwah, Gate of Heaven in East Hanover, Holy Cross in North Arlington, Saint Gertrude in Colonia (not North Arlington), Holy Name in Jersey City, Christ the King in Franklin Lakes, and Holy Sepulchre in East Orange.  In addition, there are "open houses" at some of these cemeteries in September, October, and November.

This free service is in contrast to their usual $25 search fee.

Fee schedule for "genealogical research fee" as

You can search by last name without specifying a cemetery.  Listings appear for burials in the 1800s and 1900s along with a grave/plot number.  The database does not appear to be complete, as I was able to compare the website-generated burials with my findings at these cemeteries and found several names to be missing.

Grave for Bosset and Loihle children at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.

For some reason, the burials shown on the stone do not appear in the online index, but Catherine was listed in triplicate.
Cemetery records are invaluable resources in the pursuit of tracing a family's history.  It is understandable that cemeteries do not have the time or the staff to allocate to locating such records, which were often not kept in an organized and clean state.  I commend the cemeteries who are placing their records online for genealogical research.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Indexing Projects

The Italian Genealogical Group has indexed many records useful in researching New York City area family lines, such as vital records and naturalization records.  These indexes are free at their website.  I have used their death indexes and marriage indexes to locate many important dates and discover birth names for some ladies.

I have been given the opportunity to give back to this group by helping index naturalization records for New Jersey.  The typing part seems simple, but once this index is created and online, so many people will be aided in their research.

An example of the information that I am keying to help index New Jersey naturalization records
for The Italian Genealogical Group.
If you would like to participate in such a project, Ancestry has a World Archives Project where you can select from several different records.  You can also help index at FamilySearch.  It is so easy to click, click, click on a free database and find so much information within seconds, but please remember that all of the information you find was placed there through the efforts of someone else.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I proudly present a better organization of my genealogical papers and photographs.

These boxes are from the Stockholm collection available at The Container Store.  You can shop online if you are not fortunate enough to have a store near you.

Someday I will have a master list of the contents of these files, but for now, these boxes are far better than the towering piles I have been navigating.  Most of my newly acquired records never morph into a paper version.  I am able to shoot clear photos with my iPhone and libraries are increasingly offering scanners in lieu of photocopiers.

The amount of records becoming available is staggering.  You need to be organized to collect, process, and retain the information or you will waste time retracing your steps.

Rather than print out a grainy copy of this obituary from the Bayonne Times,
I snapped a picture with my iPhone and edited with Picasa by Google.
Unfortunately, I can't find the piece of paper where I was writing down the dates and page numbers.
It will turn up.  I can figure out the date of the paper by her death certificate.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Monmouth County Archives Day 2011

Today I attended Archives and History Day at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan, New Jersey.  Table after table was filled with helpful people and information from various municipalities in Monmouth County.  I was treated to a tour of the Archives, located in the bottom of the library, which is a wonderland for someone who loves to research old records.

I previously touted the digitization and free online availability of the Red Bank Register Newspaper.  In this spirit, the Archives are busily digitizing the myriad of records in these boxes.  Some are already done and are available online for you to search and view for free.  I was told that if a record is not viewable online yet, you may request a paper copy.  I recommend doing your research online first and then making an appointment to visit the archives to retrieve copies and search for yourself all of the paper copies that are not yet digitized.
If you search in the Coroner Inquests for last name "Wall," you come up with listings such as this:

The Archives holds the Coroner Inquest papers regarding the death of Maud Walling.  Death by murder could provide more details about your family than other modes of death, so it's definitely worth checking out.  (Do not overlook the people in your tree who did not marry or have children.  They also left a paper trail that might be more discoverable than the breadcrumbs left by your direct ancestors.)  The actual papers are not available online yet, but you can request them.  This goes beyond merely reading the articles concerning the death in the Red Bank Register.

Maud's abrupt ending provides us with some great family information.
She was the daughter of Wyckoff Walling; her cousin was Clinton H Walling, son of John H Walling;
John's wife was married previously and had a daughter named Bessie Blauvelt.
You can also research Maud's death and what became of Clinton Walling in the Archives.
If you have branches of your tree that lived or worked in Monmouth County, New Jersey, you have a lot more records to find.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October- Family History Month

October is family history month.  I started the month at Woodland Cemetery in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, assisting with recording of gravestones.  The cemetery has been vandalized over the years and is not well-maintained.

This is a recent burial, yet the stone is already knocked over and collecting water,
which will cause deterioration more rapidly.
Emile Alexay 1891-1949
Florence W Alexay 1903-1984

Some people do not have any markers.  Bessie Hazzard (1886-1931) has two.

The gravestone of Frederick Schnauffer (1888-1915) was recovered.
His stone is more legible than a nearby stone, George L Rabenstein (1851-1915),
bearing the same year of burial.