State of New Jersey
Court Records Research

New Jersey Court Records - Most courts in America are generally courts of record that is they are required by law to keep a record of the proceedings. New Jersey courts are the same. Moreover these days very few people escape mention in a court room records ultimately all through their lives as witnesses, litigants, jurors, appointees to office or as petition signatories. Even so Americans from a couple of generations ago also expected to participate in local court procedures when they were in session. It was a civic duty and they could possibly be fined if they could not attend. New Jersey court files mirror U.S. history. Hidden away in courthouses along with archives everywhere are the desires and worries of lots of citizens. The odds are good that your particular ancestors have left a concise record of at least some areas of life in a court room records.

Land records are held in New Jersey by the county clerks. Those records include maturalizations, deeds, mortgages, and other records. Marriage records, which usually span from 1795 to 1878, can also be found in the offices of most county clerks. The New Jersey State Archives has some original dockets from county justices of the piece on file. Other records can be found in Orphan's Court and Surrogate's Court records.

Indexes, case files, and minute books from the Perogative Court (primarily 1830s to 1948) can be found at the New Jersey State Archives, along with chancery court records from 1780 to 1886 with some records dating back as far as 1743. State Supreme Court records from 1681 to 1844 with indexes up to 1947 are also available there, along with Court of Errors and Appeals dockets from 1869 to 1949 and a few earlier records. Some records from the court of common please going back all the way to the 1700s can also be found there. Around the middle of the 1990s, any remaining county courts became one with the Superior Court. Many records from before 1948 have now been moved to the New Jersey State Archives as well. That includes most records from the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Passaic and Union.

Large amounts of Sussex and Salem County records are also available. Copies can be requested by mail for a $1.00 per page fee. Later records can be found in Trenton at the Superior Court Public Information Center. Researchers should note that a fire in 1980 destroyed quite a few state court records from the 1800s.

The National Archives-Northeast Region holds New Jersey federal court records. Some of them, including the 1790 to 1911 U.S. Circuit Court records and the 1789 to 1960 U.S. District Court records, have been microfilmed. The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey has also published several abstracts of court cases.

New Jersey Tax Website Links - Federal census records for New Jersey prior to 1830 are mostly no longer extant. However, tax records from before 1830 can be used to fill in missing information. Those lists for 1773 to 1822 have been organized according to township. The New Jersey State Archives holds the original tax lists, which indicate landowners, household heads, and single adult males. Other information listed included slaves, mills, cattle, horses, and land owned, along with other taxable property. However, only around 50% of the lists from 1773 and 1774 have survived. Certain counties, especially Sussex County, are also missing a lot of information. The records that are available can be found on microfilm in many places, including the state archives, Rutgers University, and the New Jersey Historical Society. Repositories in New York, including the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society also have copies of those records.

The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey began publishing early tax lists in volume 36. Also, the "Revolutionary Census" collection was constructed using tax lists from 1773 to 1786. However, only the tax lists for 38 municipalities listed the number of slaves and number of whites in each home. Most of those municipalities were in the southern part of the state. 1784 tax list abstracts are expected to be published in the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey soon.

Tax records beginning in the 1800s may be available at the municipal or county level. The state archives has some tax lists available for municipalities that no longer exist today as well.

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