I have written about state and local historical societies as GeneaGems, but I still firmly believe that they are 1) a vastly underused resource and 2) one of the quickest expanding resources, usually for free, on the web today.
As I have roots in Passaic, New Jersey, I am going to focus on that area, but I strongly suggest that each reader seek out these resources for your own locations of interest.
First, the New Jersey Digital State Archives is a fabulous site. It recently moved, so if you happened to have bookmarked it, you’ll need to update your link.
You’ll want to choose the “Search the Collections” link on the left top menu. Another page opens:
Overview of Genealogical Collections Link
The Overview of Genealogical Collections (green arrow, above) is a five page PDF file of the genealogically related holdings of the New Jersey State Archives. There are some live links to some works in progress, including a NJ Marriage Index 1848-1878 and a Death Records Index 1878-1890, some early military records, dating back to the Revolution, NJ state census data, and NJ Supreme Court records.
The “Searchable Databases” link includes 14 databases containing thousands of images relating to vital records, land records, legal name changes and a great section on old photographs – Department of Agriculture photos, NJ National Guard pictures and historical Federal Writers’ Project photos.
The new page looks like this, although I couldn’t quite capture it:
There is also a link to digitized Documentary Treasures.
Access to all of these resources is FREE!
My next website visit is the Passaic County Historical Society, housed at Lambert Castle. The “go to” link fro online digital resources on this website is the “Genealogy Club” link. I couldn’t capture the whole home page in one image, so there are two. Genealogy Club Home Page
However, one must scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find the link to the online resources offered by the PCHS Genealogy Club:
Next, I will click on “Resources On Line From the Collection.” Up comes another page too long to capture in one image. Here is a shot of just the top portion of the page:
There are fabulous GeneaGem nuggets in here like selected lists of Passaic and Paterson High School graduates from 1873-190, lists of deaths from the cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1847 and an inmate list from November 1877.
Categories in the list include Selected Articles from the Passaic County Historical Society, Schools and Associations, Bible Records, Biographies, Industry and Business, Cemeteries, Census, Churches, City Directories, Map, Military, Newspaper Extracts, Orphan Research, Passaic County and Its Environs and a list of links to other New Jersey sites.
I’ve hit the motherlode for sourcing information on the history of Passaic County.
Much of this information doesn’t come up directly in a web search. It takes some digging, which is why you should search out (whichever state) Digital Archives and (whatever place) Historical Society to discover what may be waiting for you. Many of these organizations are adding new data and photos almost daily. You may be more than pleasantly surprised!