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

New Jersey State Archives holds original birth, marriage and death records from the period 1848-1900. The records from 1848-1878 take the form of large registers of annual returns sent in to the state using formats and papers that varied over time. These registers have broken down, to a critical point, after more than a century of use. Well-intended record keepers, early on, attempted to mend the books as they knew how: with adhesive tape. Thus, in addition to inherently acidic, brittle paper, and bindings and pages loosened or broken from decades upon decades of wear and tear (including many years of unrestricted public handling), the registers also suffer from the effects of damaging adhesives and fragmentation.

In order to save these records for posterity, and in order to re-image them so we can improve public access to the information they contain, several years ago the State Archives embarked on a campaign to professionally conserve and re-microfilm these crucial genealogical records. Thus, a portion of each search and copy fee received from mail orders for vital records is earmarked for paper conservation. This is a time-consuming, labor-intensive and costly process; but we are making steady progress.

Below is a table listing the registers that have been treated, mended, and re-filmed to date. The work has been done by the Conservation Center of Art and Historic Artifacts:

VOLUME
DESCRIPTION
F
Camden City, Birth, Marriage & Death Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (434 pages)
O
Gloucester County, Birth, Marriage & Death Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (544 pages)
X
Monmouth County, Marriage & Death Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (540 pages)
Y
Monmouth County, Birth Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (432 pages)
Z
Morris County, Marriage & Death Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (444 pages)
Z-2
Morris County, Birth Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (323 pages)
AJ
Warren County Birth Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (427 pages)
K
Newark Marriage Records, May 1848 – May 1867 (701 pages) - conservation underway

Conservation of a single volume takes about 6 to 8 months, depending upon the extent of the damage. On average, treatment currently costs about $17.12 per page. The total funding needed to have one volume conserved, therefore, can range from $4,000 to $12,000. While this is a costly proposition, we save dollars by not having the pages encapsulated or rebound. The disbound pages are treated and then stored flat in acid-free folders and boxes. When the disbound, treated volume is returned to us, we re-microfilm the pages in-house using a high-resolution, preservation-quality camera. The old microfilm (often difficult to read) is replaced with a fresh new set of filmed images. With new and better film, it becomes less and less likely that the original pages will need to be handled.

Below are a few pictures illustrating the vital records before and after treatment, and the conservation processes the pages undergo.

Before Conservation Treatment

After Conservation Treatment

Treatment Processes Underway

Before Treatment (Click images to enlarge)

 


After Treatment (Click images to enlarge)

 

Treatment Processes Underway

disbinding the volume

 

Old tape repairs have caused staining and weakening/embrittling of the paper

The tape is meticulously removed using a heated spatula

Disbinding the volume.

 

Left: Old tape repairs have caused staining and weakening/embrittling of the paper

Right: The tape is meticulously removed using a heated spatula

 

 

Cleaning surface grime with a sponge made of natural rubber.

 

Repair of tears and losses with mulberry paper and wheat starch paste.

 

Spray-deacidification neutralizes the paper and adds an alkaline buffer.

Images courtesy of Conservation Center for Art and Historic Art