New Jersey Church Records

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New Jersey Wiki Topics
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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Old Swedes Church NJ

The first churches established in New Jersey were the Dutch Reformed, Congregational (Puritan), Society of Friends (Quaker), and Lutheran. Church membership waned in the early 1700s, but revivals rekindled interest around 1740. By 1775 the largest denominations in New Jersey were the Presbyterian, Society of Friends, Dutch Reformed, Baptist, and Anglican (Episcopal) churches.

In the mid-1800s, the Methodist church was the largest, followed by the Presbyterian, Baptist, Reformed, Friends, and Episcopal churches.

The Roman Catholic Church has been the predominant faith since the beginning of the twentieth century, followed by the Jewish, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal faiths.[1]

Except for the Dutch Reformed and Lutheran churches in northern New Jersey, few of the earliest church records have survived.

Information Found in the Records[edit | edit source]

To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source],, and can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caution sign.png

Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Indexes[edit | edit source] Indexes[edit | edit source]

Catholic[edit | edit source]

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]

Episcopal[edit | edit source]

German Reformed[edit | edit source]

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Quaker (Society of Friends)[edit | edit source]

Other Collections[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Family History Library (FHL) has a substantial collection of original church records and transcripts on microfilm for churches in the United States.
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under the state, county, or town.
  • If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
  • Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
  • To find records:
a. Click on the records of United States, New Jersey.
b. Click on Places within United States, New Jersey and a list of counties will appear.
c. Click on your county if it appears.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Click on Places within United States, New Jersey [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
f. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
g. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
h. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Consult available finding aids.[edit | edit source]

These aids generally provide lists of records that are known to exist and information on their location.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.

  • Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
  • To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
  • Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
  • A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
  • If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
  • Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.

Here you will find archive information unique to the state. Many more archives are kept by denomination. For denominational archives, go to Searching for Church Records by Denomination.

Dutch Reformed[edit | edit source]

Commission on History, Reformed Church in America
Gardner A. Sage Library

New Brunswick Theological Seminary
21 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Telephone: (732) 246-1779

The Holland Society of New York Library
20 West 44th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Telephone: (212) 758-1675

Year Book of The Holland Society of New York, 1912. New York, New York: The Society, 1912, available in the FHL Collection lists the transcripts of New Jersey Dutch Reformed and Lutheran records at the Holland Society Library. It also lists those that were published as of 1912. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many of these transcripts. To locate a copy nearest you, use WorldCat.

Episcopal[edit | edit source]

Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
808 W. State Street
Trenton, NJ 08618-5326
Telephone: 609-394-5281

  • The Rev. Cn. Richard C. Wrede, Archivist
    Phone: 609-394-5281 ext. 15
  • The archives house records of closed churches. For records requests from open churches, contact the local church.

Episcopal Diocese of Newark
Episcopal House
31 Mulberry Street
Newark, NJ 07102-5202
Phone: 973-430-9900
Fax: 973-622-3503

  • The archives house records of closed churches. For records requests from open churches, contact the local church.
  • Questions about church records: Contact information for questions concerning historical records of a closed church (including genealogical inquiries).

Methodist[edit | edit source]

United Methodist Church
Commission on Archives and History

Greater New Jersey Conference
1001 Wickapecko Drive
Ocean, New Jersey 07712
Phone: (732) 359-1000  Toll free: (877) 677-2594

  • New Jersey, United Methodist Church Records, 1800-1970, index and images, ($)
    • Archives and History has entered into an agreement with to digitize our closed local church vital records. The records were sent to Ancestry last fall and should be completed in early spring of this year. The digital records will appear on Ancestry’s website while an archival copy of the images will reside in our repository. One of the perks to this partnership is a free multiyear license to access Ancestry’s entire website which will include our GNJ records. You may access the Ancestry site on a computer at the United Methodist Church Archives and History Center on the campus of Drew University. The center is open 9 am to 5 pm during the week and 9 am to 9 pm on Tuesday. While you are visiting be sure to make use of our conference’s archival collections located in the vaults underneath the main floor of the building.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

  • Dirnberger, Janet Drumm. New Jersey Catholic Baptismal Records from 1759-1781.  Seabrook, Texas: Brambles, 1981. This book is available in the FHL Collection. However, it does not circulate to Family History Centers.

Archdiocese of Newark
171 Clifton Avenue
Newark, New Jersey 07104-0500

  • Sacramental Records
    • Existing Parishes:
      • All sacramental records for the Archdiocese of Newark are kept at the parish where that particular sacrament was celebrated, assuming the parish is still in existence.
      • If you know the name of the parish and that it still exists or if you don't know the name of the parish but have a general idea of the geographical area, please click for the Parishes web page, where you can locate parish addresses by name, town, or county.
      • To request sacramental records, please contact the parish in writing using the following form:
  • Closed Parishes: If the parish is not listed on the Parishes web page, it may be merged with another parish. To check for merged parishes, see Closed Parishes Records Location

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union.[2]

  • Records of the Archdiocese of Newark are kept by:
    University Archives
    Seton Hall University
    South Orange Avenue
    South Orange, New Jersey 07079
    Phone: (201) 762-7052 
    • All sacramental registers, 1832 through 1914 are available on microfilm at the University.

FamilySearch digitized records: All sacramental registers for the Archdiocese of Newark, 1832 through 1914, and cemetery records in the archdiocese have been are available in digitized form through the FamilySearch Catalog. Some are restricted and can only be studied at a Family History Center near you.

Diocese of Camden
631 Market Street
Camden, New Jersey 08102
Phone: (856) 756-7900.

The diocese includes the counties of: Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem.[2]

Diocese of Metuchen
P.O. Box 191
Metuchen, NJ 08840-0191
Phone: (732) 562-1990
Office Location
146 Metlars Lane
Piscataway, New Jersey 08854

The diocese includes the counties of: Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren.[2]

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson
777 Valley Road
Paterson, New Jersey 07013
Phone: (973) 777-8818

The diocese includes the counties of: Morris, Passaic and Sussex.[2]

Diocese of Trenton
701 Lawrenceville Road
Trenton, New Jersey 08648
Phone: (609) 406-7400

The diocese includes the counties of: Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean.[2]

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:

Next, go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination.[edit | edit source]

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives and online collections for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Religious Denominations

Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). FHL Book 973 K2ah.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.