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Introduction to Vital Records
Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the New Jersey Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Vital Records Reference Dates
New Jersey's vital records start the following years:
New Jersey Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online
The following is a list of online resources useful for locating New Jersey Vital Records which consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Check New Jersey Vital Records Online for more information about the resources listed below. Most online resources for New Jersey Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.
- Search for New Jersey Collections on FamilySearch.org under New Jersey - Free
- Search the New Jersey Birth, Marriage & Death Records at Ancestry.com - $
- Order New Jersey Certificates online -$
Birth and Death Records
The first laws requiring town clerks to register vital records were made in 1675 and 1682, but few clerks complied. In 1848 New Jersey became the second state (after Massachusetts) to require statewide registration, but the early registration was not complete. At least 100,000 births in the period before 1920 were not recorded.
1660-1980. New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980 Name index to birth, baptism and christening records from the state of New Jersey on FamilySearch Historical Record Collection. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers.
1848-1878. Statewide indexes to births and deaths from 1848 to 1878 at the state archives have been microfilmed. Birth indexes and death indexes. Births from 1848 through 1867 are indexed in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) online at FamilySearch.org. The death index between 1878-1888 is online at the New Jersey Department of State website.
1878-1900. Alphabetical statewide birth indexes, 1 June 1878 to 30 June 1890 and 1 July 1890 to 31 December 1900 are on microfilm at the state archives (not available at the Family History Library). However, death records for 1878-1900 are on microfilm at the Family History Library (see below). No index exists for deaths from 1878 to 1900.
1901–. Annual indexes to births and deaths, 1901 to 1903, are on microfilm at the state archives (not available at the Family History Library). From 1904 to 1940, the statewide records are arranged alphabetically by year.
1665-1799. New Jersey Department of Archives and Records have a Statewide Index to Colonial Marriages 1665 to 1799, searchable by any combination of Bride and Groom's first and last name.All references are to records held at the New Jersey State Archives.
1848-1878. Original birth and death returns from 1 May 1848 to 31 May 1878 are at the state archives, and microfilm copies are there and at the Family History Library. 
1878-1900. Two sets of records were kept of births and deaths: the original certificates and copies in registers. The state archives has microfilms of both sets; the Family History Library only has microfilms of the registers. The registers are arranged according to a July-to-June calendar year by county, then by city, then by the first letter of the surname, and then by the date of filing.
1901-1940. Microfilm copies of birth records, 1901 to 1923, and death records, 1901 to 1940, are at the state archives (not available at the Family History Library).
The contents of the records vary. The birth certificates, 1878 to 1900, give the name of the child, gender, date and place of birth, full names of parents, parents' ages, father's occupation, and the birth number of the child. The birth registers give most of the same information, although the mother's maiden surname sometimes is not shown.
Death returns from 1848 to 1878 show the names of parents, the exact date of death, and the age at death. Death certificates from 1878 to 1900 may show the names of the parents, but the death registers do not. The registers do provide the month and year of death, the age at death in months and years, and the country of birth of each parent.
Copies of birth and death records from 1 May 1848 to 31 May 1878 can be obtained for a fee from the state archives. Birth and death records from 1 June 1878 to the present can be obtained from:
Bureau of Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 370
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Telephone: 609-292-4087 (information)
Telephone: 609-633-2860 (to order records)
Internet: New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
Be sure to request the "long form." If the exact date is unknown, there is an additional fee for each year searched. The fees for obtaining copies of the state's records are listed in:
Provincial Marriage Licenses. The earliest law requiring town clerks to keep marriage records was made in 1673, but few clerks complied. Marriages were performed either by a clergyman or, more commonly, by a justice of the peace. After 1719 a marriage license was required unless banns were published at least three weeks before the marriage. In the colonial period, it has been estimated that only about 25 percent of New Jersey marriages were by license. Usually the more affluent persons obtained licenses. Marriage by license gradually became more popular than banns by the mid-eighteenth century. However, by about 1790, marriage by license had again declined in popularity. Legislation in 1795 repealed the requirement for marriage licenses.
About 10,000 original marriage bonds and licenses, 1711 to 1795 Filmed at the state archives. Most date between 1728 and 1790. They are arranged chronologically in volumes by the first letter of the groom's surname. Some documents were filmed out of focus, so you may need to check a previous filming. Some licenses issued between 1665 and 1711 and other marriage records to the 1760s can be found in the deed books and are indexed by the Index to Powers of Attorney. mentioned in the "Land and Property" page.
- The best index to licenses is New Jersey Marriage Bonds, W.P.A. 1670-1900. This is a bride's and groom's card index at the state archives The index shows where the original bonds and licenses are found by listing the volume and page references.
For a published index, refer to:
- Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey. Marriage Records, 1665-1800. This book indexes the bonds but does not list the names of bondsmen, prior marriage indication, parent's consent for a minor, nor the volume and page references. The last third of the book lists additional marriages from church records and Middlesex County marriage returns, 1795 to 1799.
- Charles Carroll Gardner found numerous transcription errors, and his revised lists for the years 1727 to 1751 were published in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, 14-23 (1939-1948). See the "Periodicals" page.
Another card index to New Jersey marriage bonds for about 1730 to 1791 was filmed at the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. These typed cards give the names of the brides and grooms, their residences, and sometimes the occupation of the groom. Also listed are the names of the bondsmen and witnesses and their residences.
County Marriage Records. Marriage certificates were recorded by the county courts of common pleas beginning in 1795. County marriage records rarely provide the names of parents. The original county marriages are usually found at the offices of the county clerks. The state archives has microfilm copies from 1795 to about 1848. The Family History Library has microfilm copies from 1795 to about 1900 (Monmouth County to 1843) for all counties except for Hudson (created in 1840) and Camden (created in 1844). Some marriages for Bergen, Essex, Morris, and Passaic counties are indexed in the 1988 edition of the International Genealogical Index.
The early county marriages for most counties, often with supplementary marriages from church records, have been transcribed and published and are available at the Family History Library. Justice of the peace records may or may not have been filed with the county and tend to be scattered. Some are in various collections at the state archives; some are available at the county courthouses; and some, such as those for Bergen, are at county historical archives. A large collection of Essex County dockets arranged by the name of the justice of the peace, 1782 to 1911, was filmed at the Essex County courthouse and is available at the state archives. The state archives has the original justice of the peace dockets for some counties.
State Records of Marriage. Statewide registration of marriages began in May 1848. Original marriage records, 1848 to 1878, and microfilm copies, 1848 to 1940, are at the state archives.
1682-1956 New Jersey, Marriages, 1682-1956 Index and images to marriage records from selected counties in the state of New Jersey on FamilySearch Historical Record Collection. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers. Counties not available to view: Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Union, and Warren.
The marriage returns before 1878 give the names of the bride's and groom's parents. The registers after 1878 do not have parents' names, but the marriage certificates do. Marriage returns since 1886 and marriage affidavits have not been microfilmed. The Family History Library has some of the following records, which are also available at the state archives.
1678-1985 New Jersey, Marriages, 1678-1985 Name index of county marriage records for New Jersey on FamilySearch Historical Record Collection. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers.
1848-1864. These are filed by county and then alphabetically by the first letter of the groom's surname Family History Library films 493692-94.
| Bride and groom indexes
|| 1864 to 1867 |
|Groom index||1867 to 1878 (FHL Collection 493695-96)|
|Bride and groom indexes|| June 1878 to 1900 (not available at |
the Family History Library)
|Groom index||1901 to 1903 (not available at the Family History Library).|
However, the records for 1848 to 1900 are on microfilms at the Family History Library.
1848-1900. Marriage returns, 1848 to 1867, Indexed in the International Genealogical Index; returns, 1868 to 1878 , and registers, 1878 to 1900 a Arranged according to a July- to-June calendar year by county and then by the first letter of the groom's surname.
State of New Jersey Department of State has placed on line a database indexing the marriages returns May 1848 through 31 May 1878.
1901-1940. The marriage records or certificates from 1904 to 1940 are arranged alphabetically by grooms' names within each year so no index is needed (not available at the Family History Library).
Marriage records from 1848 to 1878 can be obtained from the state archives for a fee. The records from June 1878 to 1940 can be viewed at the archives, but the staff cannot search them nor make photocopies. Copies of records from June 1878 to the present can be obtained by writing to the New Jersey State Department of Health. The fee and the restrictions are identical to those for births and deaths.
Other Vital Records Sources and Indexes
- The Works Progress Administration (WPA) abstracted some birth and death information onto card indexes known as New Jersey W.P.A. Birth and Death Records, Early to 1900. These cards primarily index church burial records, but they also index death notices from newspapers, some town clerk births and deaths, cemetery headstones, and sextons' records. They are found at the state archives and on microfilm at the Family History Library. 
The New Jersey Biographical Card Index at the New Jersey Historical Society (not available at the Family History Library) is an index to about 75,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials from:
- Work Progress Administration abstracts of central and northern New Jersey newspapers
- Trinity Church, Newark, burial records
- Elizabeth, New Jersey records compiled by Elmer T. Hutchinson
- Vital Statistics Index from Trenton Newspapers, 1800- 1900, at the New Jersey Bureau of Archives and History, is an alphabetical card index to marriage and death notices for the period from December 1777 to 1900. It was microfilmed in 1969 at the state archives. 
There is an index to deaths where the person died from unusual causes:
- Index to Inquisitions on the Dead, 1700s-1800s. This is an index to records at the state archives and provides the name of the person, the county, page, and sometimes the township or town.
Matrimonial records, including divorce proceedings, were kept by the court of chancery through 1947. The records at the state archives and at the Family History Library date from 1743 to 1850. They are found in the chancery court case files and enrolled decrees described in the "Court Records" page and are indexed. Records of legislative divorces before 1845 are listed in Beth Jones-Reichman's Divorces by Legislative Acts, 1778-1844, The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey 53 (January 1978): 1-10. Most existing copies of divorce petitions are at the state archives.
Divorce records (Dissolution records) since 1850 are in the possession of the superior court—except those less than five years old, which are usually kept at the county clerks' offices. Most case files are not restricted. You can obtain copies if you provide the approximate year of marriage and the names of both the plaintiff and defendant. Write to:
Clerk of the Superior Court
Records Information Center
P.O. Box 967
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0967
Internet: Clerk of the Superior Court
The New Jersey State Archives has early adoption records from some counties. Their holdings vary from county to county. Additional and/or more recent records are held by the county surrogates' offices and Superior Court; consult the county records and judiciary pages for addresses and links.
It should be noted that New Jersey's 1940 adoption statute did not retroactively seal earlier adoption files.
For an inventory of the birth, marriage, and death records kept in the various towns, cities, and counties as of 1941, see:
- Guide to Vital Statistics Records in New Jersey Volume 1 has information on birth, marriage, and death records, and volume two has information on the vital statistics records kept in churches.
- Information listed on vital records is given by an informant. Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) of the record. The closer the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
- If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search for church records of christening, marriage, death or burial. A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages and deaths.
- Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records. Copies of some vital records recorded in the last 100 years may be unavailable to anyone except a direct relative.
- Search for Vital Record in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search and then choosing Vital Records. Search for New Jersey to locate records filed by the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by the county.
New Jersey Church Records Depending on the denomination, church records may contain information about birth, marriage and death
New Jersey Cemetery Records Cemetery records are a rich source of birth and death information. These records may also reveal family relationships.
New Jersey Census Census records are a valuable source for birth and marriage information. You may also determine approximate time of death when the individual disappear from the census. This is a good place to begin a search.
New Jersey Newspapers Besides obituaries, local newspapers may contain birth and marriage announcements and death notices. Also check newspaper social columns for additional information.
New Jersey Military Military pension records can give birth, marriage and death information, In addition, soldiers' homes records can included this same information.
New Jersey Probate Records If no death record exists, probate records may be helpful in estimating when an individual has died. Probate records in the 20th Century often contain the exact death date.
New Jersey Periodicals Local genealogical and historical societies often publish periodicals which may contain abstracted early birth, marriage and death information.
New Jersey History Local histories, family histories and biographies can all be sources of birth, marriage and death information. Often this information is found in county-level records or in surname searches of the Family History Library catalog.
More Online Links
- Linkpendium Links for New Jersey Genealogy and History, including individual Counties - Free/$
- Genealogical Research at The New Jersey Historical Society
- The New Jersey Historical Society
- The New Jersey State Archives
- USGenWeb.org New Jersey Site - Free
- Progenealogists Links for the United States. Press Ctrl + F on the keyboard to search for New Jersey or NJ - Free/$
- ↑ (FHL films 493686-91
- ↑ Family History Library films 493697-701].
- ↑ (FHL Collection beginning with film 493702.)
- ↑ (FHL Collection beginning with film 494183).
- ↑ (FHL Collectionfilms 888701-10)
- ↑ (FHL Collection films 802936-43).
- ↑ (FHL Collection films 946856-61)
- ↑ New Jersey Marriage Bonds, W.P.A. 1670-1900(FHL Collection films 542533-37).
- ↑ Nelson, William, Editor. Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey. Marriage Records, 1665-1800. [Archives of the State of New Jersey, First Series, Volume 22] 1900, reprinted as New Jersey Marriage Records. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967. (FHL Collection book 974.9 B49a Ser 1, v. 22; film 874375 item 1.)
- ↑ (FHL Collection films 540682-83.)
- ↑ (FHL Collection film 1302538 items 2-6.)
- ↑ (FHL Collection 25 films beginning with film 493702]
- ↑ (FHL Collection films 494145-60)
- ↑ (FHL Collection films 494248-49; 495696-721; and 589813-22)
- ↑ (FHL Collection on 12 films beginning with 820014).
- ↑ (FHL Collection films 542512-29).
- ↑ Index to Inquisitions on the Dead, 1700s-1800s. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1972. (FHL Collection film 913176 item 2.)
- ↑ Guide to Vital Statistics Records in New Jersey. (FHL Collection book 974.9 V2h; film 874039 items 1-2; fiche 6051253).
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- New Jersey Births and Christenings (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- New Jersey County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- New Jersey Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- New Jersey Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)