Contact the NJ State Archives
Mailing Address:
NJ State Archives
P.O. Box 307
Trenton, NJ 08625-0307

Office Address:
225 West State Street - 2nd Floor
Trenton, NJ

Contact Information

Email: Feedback@sos.state.nj.us

Document recovery and amnestry public notice missing documents

The missing or alienated original documents listed in the pages linked below are public records of the State of New Jersey defined by New Jersey Statutes 47:3-16 as follows:

“public records” means any paper, written or printed book, document or drawing, map or plan, photograph, microfilm, sound-recording or similar device, or any copy thereof which has been made or is required by law to be received for filing, indexing, or reproducing by any officer, commission, agency or authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof, including subordinate boards thereof, or that has been received by any such officer, commission, agency or authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof, including subordinate boards thereof, in connection with the transaction of public business …

As such, they are classified and protected by law and subject to demand by the State of New Jersey, through judicial process if necessary, as stipulated by New Jersey Statutes 47:3-27
and 28:

The [Division of Archives and Records Management] is empowered to demand and receive from any person any public record in private possession belonging to this State, or to any county, municipality or school district thereof.

Any person who is entitled by law to the custody of public records shall demand the same from any person in whose possession they may be, and such records forthwith shall be delivered to the officer charged by law with their custody.

This law was and is retrospective, retroactive and founded in common law and colonial and early state statutes regarding the preservation of public records. Through the New Jersey State Constitution of 2 July 1776, which adopted the full extent of colonial law then in place, and subsequent constitutions and legislation, Title 47 of New Jersey Statutes is applicable and enforceable with respect to official records of both the Colony and State of New Jersey and respective subdivisions.

By law, the State of New Jersey retains ownership of any and all public records regardless of the circumstances of custody, alienation or provenance. New Jersey public records cannot be legally held by another party without a depository agreement duly executed by, or with the approval of, the [New Jersey Division of Archives and Records Management].

Please be advised that New Jersey State Archives has reported the theft of the documents listed in the pages linked below to both the New Jersey State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). One or both of these agencies will be notified should any of these documents be advertised for sale or auction, or discovered to be in the custody of any person, corporation, organization or agency other than New Jersey State Archives, which is the legal owner.

Be further advised that New Jersey State Archives invites the voluntary return of any such documents to the State of New Jersey. In such instances, the State Archives will suspend formal demand and legal process to recover such documents and will, upon receipt of them, acknowledge the same as a donation to the State Archives. The State may also exercise its discretion in negotiating mutually beneficial terms for the return of such documents and/or the formal acknowledgement of their legal ownership by the State. This may include planned public and/or media events, such as our celebration of the Bernstein and Sang Donations, and/or relative to institutions, a scheduled, eventual records transfer.

Please contact: archives.collections@sos.state.nj.us or call 609-292-9507 (Joseph Klett) or 609-292-1570 (Ellen Callahan) should you have questions, would like to report the whereabouts of alienated public records of New Jersey, or would like to arrange for the donation of records.

Lists of Missing Records

Public records known to be alienated from the State include, but are not limited to, the following:

Enrolled Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey:

Enrolled Laws of the State of New Jersey:

Correspondence of Governor William Livingston:

  •  
  •  

Miscellaneous Filings of the Office of the Secretary of State:

  •  

Legislative Filings:
(list in development)

Military Papers:
(list in development)

County and Municipal Records:
(list in development)

Ethical Standards for Archivists and Table of Returned Public Records

Note that the State of New Jersey has recovered alienated public records from private individuals, manuscript dealers, auction houses and institutional collections as far back as the 1860s. In most cases, this has occurred through direct donation of alienated public records to the State Archives. Various historical repositories have returned alienated public records to the State, such acquisitions typically having been accessioned by the repository prior to the recognition of ethical standards for archivists. Specifically, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) has promulgated the following:

“Archivists' Code of Ethics”(1992):

III. Collecting Policies

...[Archivists] do not compete for acquisitions when competition would endanger the integrity or safety of documentary materials of long-term value, or solicit the records of an institution that has an established archives...

“Archivists' Code of Ethics”(2005):

II. Professional Relationships

... Archivists cooperate, collaborate, and respect each institution and its mission and collecting policy. Respect and cooperation form the basis of all professional relationships with colleagues and users.

IX. Law

Archivists must uphold all federal, state, and local laws.

In some cases formal action under NJS Title 47 (cited above) preceded the recovery of the alienated records. This was done in the form of notice by the Division of Archives and Records Management or the Attorney General’s Office, investigation by law enforcement, judicial complaint, court injunction, or a combination of these. As the table below demonstrates, since its founding the State Archives has responded to known advertisements and reports as to the location of alienated public records. In all cases where a legal claim was formally asserted, the State’s statutory ownership and prior filing of the alienated documents were thoroughly researched and proven to the satisfaction of executive, legal and/or judicial authorities. In cases where the party notified complied without adjudication of the State’s claim, the return of the document(s) was acknowledged as a charitable donation.

New Jersey State Archives gratefully recognizes the return of the public records listed in the table below, dating from the establishment of the former Bureau of Archives and History (predecessor of the Division of Archives and Records Management) to the present. Again, most were direct donations by civic-minded individuals and institutions in support of the democratic and legal principles of public access to government records and the rightful ownership of them by the people, and nationally accepted ethical standards for archivists.

 
YEAR
DESCRIPTION OF RECORDS
RECEIVED FROM
1946
Somerset County Loan Office mortgage ledger, 1786-1799
Private Individual
1956
Last will and testament of John Hart, 1779
Manuscript/Book Dealer
1956
Several missing enrolled laws, 1911-13
Manuscript/Book Dealer
1958
Estate inventory of John Hart, 1779
Private Individual
1959
Civil War muster roll, 1862-63
Private Individual
1960
State Treasurer accounts current (vouchers), 1865
Private Individual
1962
Little Egg Harbor Township minute book, 1877-99
Private Individual
1978
Minutes of the Board of Managers of the Geological Survey of New Jersey, 1864-1904
Historical Repository
1980
“An Act for the Support of Government …,” 1763
Private Individual
1982
Civil War muster roll, 1863
Private Individual
1982
Millham Township minutes and vital records, 1882-90
Private Individual
1983
New Jersey’s original Treaty of Paris (preliminary articles), 1783
Historical Repository
1986
Civil War muster-out rolls, 1865
Historical Repository
1987
Ratification of the United States Constitution, 1787
Historical Repository
1988 etc.
Day books, accounts, U.S. Loan Office journal and receipts of the State Treasurer, 1791-1869
Private Individual
1989
Seven original enrolled laws, 1755-86
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
1989 etc.
Records of the New Jersey State Reformatory for Women, 1915-1974
Historical Repository
1990
Legislative and governors’ papers, 1752-1798
Private Individual
1990
Seventeen original enrolled laws, 1762-1865
Manuscript/Book Dealer
1992
“An Act concerning trespassing on lands for the purpose of gunning and fishing,” 1912
Historical Repository
1992
“An Act for Raising a Number of Men … for the Ensueing Campaign,” 1764
Manuscript/Book Dealer
1993
Military records of Lt. Col. Henry Hartford, 8th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, 1862-65
Private Individual
1994
Various court and military records, 1761-1830
Private Individual
1994
Records of Mercer County Sheriff Samuel T. Atchley, 1899-1903
Private Individual
1994
Records of the New Jersey State Reformatory for Women, 1920-1960s
Private Individual
1995
“A Supplement to an act entitled ‘An Act to incorporate the New Jersey Patent Ship Bread Company’,” 1842
Private Individual
1996
Records of Governor Robert B. Meyner, 1954-58
Historical Repository
1996
Essex County court records, 1804-05
Private Individual
1996
Papers of Capt. Thomas H. Ford, 1st Regiment, New Jersey Cavalry, 1862-65
Private Individual
1998
“An Act to regulate Waggons & other Wheel Carriages …,” 1787
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
1999
“An Act to raise a Fund for defraying Damages done by Dogs …,” 1763
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2001
Elizabethtown Survey Book C, 1736-57
Manuscript/Book Dealer
2001
Burlington County Deed Book A, 1785-88
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2002
Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, Miscellaneous Book B, 1780-1816
Private Individual
2002
Ewing Township minute book and vital statistics register, 1834-78
Private Individual
2002
Four original colonial laws and one colonial passed bill, 1760-67 – see Bernstein and Sang Donations event
Private Individual
2002
Twenty-two manuscripts, 1749-92 (mostly docketed correspondence of Governor William Livingston)
PrivateIndividual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2003
Thirty original enrolled laws, 1677-1862 – see Bernstein and Sang Donations event
Historical Repository
2003
Burlington County court minutes, indictments, etc., 1709-1950
Historical Repository
2003 etc.
Five original enrolled laws relating to currency, 1723-87
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2003 etc
Nineteen original enrolled laws, 1772-89; letter from Thomas Henderson to Gov. William Livingston, 1792
Historical Repository
2004
Legislative and court papers, 1761-1901
Private Individual
2004
“An Act for defraying Sundry Incidental Charges,” 1782
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2004
Bergen County Jail commitment register, 1894-1904
Manuscript/Book Dealer
2004
“A Supplementary Act … Appointing Commissioners for finally Settling … Claims to the Common Lands of the Township of Bergen …’, ” 1769
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2005
Two original enrolled laws, 1783 & 1790
Private Individual
2006 etc.
Miscellaneous official records of Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, 1979-81
Historical Repository
2006 etc.
Accounts and receipts of Burlington County Tax Collector John Black, 1785-1813; Burlington County militia records, 1797-1804
Private Individual
2006
Assembly Joint Resolution No. 2 “relative to the soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg,” 1864
Historical Repository
2007 etc.
Ten original enrolled laws, 1778-87; Amwell Township election notification, 1777
Private Individual
2007
Mercer County Circuit Court minute book, 1844-47; Cape Island/Cape May City oaths and bonds of public officials, 1851-87
Private Individual
2008
Four original enrolled laws, 1779-82
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2008
Hunterdon County militia muster roll, 1840
Private Individual
2008
State Treasurer pay records and attendance certificates, 1783-98
Private Individual
2010
"An Act to enable Ann Pemberton ...to fulfil[l] certain contracts ...," 1786.
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2010
Records of Washington Township, Mercer County, 1860-1918
Private Individual
2010
Birth, marriage, death and Civil War orphanage returns of East Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, 1862-1865
Historical Repository
2010
Burlington County Courts of Common Pleas and General Quarter Sessions, Minute Book B, Part 2, 1717-1733
Private Individual through Historical Repository
2010
Two original enrolled laws and one original law extract, 1757-1785
Manuscript/Book Dealer
2010
"An Act to secure the Profits of Lands upon the Frontiers of the State ...," 1781
Manuscript/Book Dealer
2010
Petition of the Reformed Dutch congregations of Hackensack and Schralenburgh to the New Jersey Legislature, 1783
Private Individual
2011
An Act for the better laying out, Regulating and Preserving Publick Roads and High-ways thro'-out this Province, 1716/1717
College Library
2012
A Supplementary Act to several former Acts of this Province, for enabling Owners, Proprietors and Possessors of the Meadows on Burlington Creek....
Private Individual through Manuscript/Book Dealer
2013
An Act to grant certain Privileges to the Owners of the from Works, in the Township of Evesham and Northampton, in the County of Burlington, and of the Hibernia Iron Works ..., 1769
Private Individual
2013
An Act for altering the Place of holding the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in and for the County of Bergen..., 1779
Private Individual
2013
An Act to vest Robert-Lettis Hooper, the Younger, and Elizabeth his Wife, and the Survivor of them, with Powers of Agency, to take Charge of and manage the Estate..., 1782
Private Individual