New Jersey’s people and varied resources have helped shape the mid-Atlantic region, the Nation, and the world for more than 350 years. Its notable diversity of inhabitants was evident from its beginning in 1664. Due in no small part to its location, it has seen all the great themes of the Nation’s history play out within its borders. Its pivotal role during the American Revolution and early industrialization, and its continuing legacy of technological innovation, distinguish it in the historical record. Studying New Jersey's history is engaging and relevant to the state’s residents and visitors for these and many other reasons.
The State Archives is New Jersey's official research center for public records of enduring historical value. Since many vital records, land documents, probate records, and military service papers were filed centrally by the Colony and State of New Jersey, the State Archives is a treasure trove for genealogists and historians.
The Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ) was founded in 1921 by a group of genealogical scholars dedicated to preserving New Jersey family history. A common interest among GSNJ’s founders was the transcription of tombstone information. Styling themselves “tombstone hounds,” they began organizing “tombstone hunts” at burying grounds around the state.
In 1924, the Society was incorporated with a mission to discover, procure, preserve, and publish information pertaining to families and individuals associated with New Jersey. GSNJ’s institutional history has depended extensively on contributions made by volunteers.
The League of Historical Societies of New Jersey, founded in 1966, is composed of over 300 organizations that represent over 45,000 individual members. While most of the organizations in the League are local historical societies, it also includes statewide societies and related institutions, county agencies, museums, libraries and archival groups, historic preservation agencies, and various other organizations devoted to and interested in New Jersey history.
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of New Jersey, founded in 1892, maintains two museum properties: Peachfield in Westampton, New Jersey, and the Old Schoolhouse in Mount Holly, New Jersey. We invite you to visit and learn about New Jersey’s Quaker roots and heritage at both historic sites. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The New Jersey Historical Society collects, preserves, teaches, and interprets New Jersey history through our archives, research library, and educational programs. We do so in the belief that an understanding and appreciation of historical issues, decisions, and actions can inform and inspire the people of New Jersey.
New Jersey was formally separated into two provinces, East Jersey and West Jersey, for the 29 years between 1674 and 1703. However, the consciousness of West Jersey as a distinct entity continued for much longer.
The area had been home to Lenape (or Delaware) Indians before exploration and settlement starting around 1609 by the Dutch, Swedish, and English. Settlement of the West Jersey area by Europeans was thin until the English conquest in 1664. Beginning in the late 1670's Quakers settled in great numbers, first near Salem and then in Burlington, which became the capital of West Jersey.