In New Jersey we have, arguably, the most unique set of land records of the original 13 colonies.
In 1664, two individuals, Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley, were given the right to make land grants for the territory between the Hudson and Delaware rivers—the colony of New Jersey. These individuals were later succeeded by the corporations of East and West Jersey and, for more than twelve generations, the proprietors’ records were privately held and maintained by these entities.
The proprietors’ land rights survived the Revolutionary War and, in fact, continue to affect land ownership, transfer, and use in New Jersey, today.
For well over three centuries the proprietors appropriated acreage to their shareholders and local settlers. They meticulously recorded these transactions in their own books, also retaining original “returns of surveys” with contemporary sketches of tracts as they were delineated. (In the case of West Jersey, these and other “loose papers” date back to the 1670s.)
And these documents also contain a treasure-trove of important family history information—recording names and places that do not appear in any other colonial records.
Read more about New Jersey’s Early Land Records >
What does the New Jersey Early Land Records Project do?
The New Jersey Early Land Records Project (the “Project”) expedites the ongoing work at the New Jersey State Archives by providing additional funding for Project processing and archive staff, conservation, digitization, materials, and related expenses.
Project funds supplement the considerable investments already made by the State of New Jersey. Project donations fund additional staff hours—including archivists who are experts in colonial land records—as well as digitization, and conservation of the original documents.
The resulting online database, funded in part by this project, will be fully name- and place-indexed—encompassing people and property details from more than 80,000 land instruments. This can include grantors and grantees; witnesses; spouses, children, siblings, and other relatives and heirs; owners of adjacent property; officials, attorneys, clerks, surveyors, and others.
This database, which will encompass materials from more than 80,000 documents over 60 separate collections, will provide a rich new untapped resource for exploring settlement patterns and family history.
Read more about the Project >
Project Donors—Thank You!
ACRES LAND TITLE AGENCY, INC.
New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors
Your contributions matter!
The work of the New Jersey Early Land Records Project is a multi-year endeavor, requiring the skills of professional archivists, conservators, indexers, and database developers. Your contributions, no matter how small, will help further this important work. It is the most ambitious State indexing project that we know of and your show of support is a “vote” for more projects like this one.
Donations and grants, of any amount, are welcome. Individuals and groups—including land-title professionals, land surveyors, archaeologists, lineage societies, historians, genealogists, and individuals who love New Jersey and colonial history—have already joined us in supporting this ambitious endeavor.
We especially encourage New Jersey historical and genealogical societies and those organizations with an interest in records from the colonial era to participate raising funds for this landmark project.
All project donations will be held in a dedicated project account and fund only project-related activities. This includes funds to contract processing archivists, equipment and materials, and database development, among other items. Additional sub-projects may include online mapping, K-12 educational materials, and outreach about the records, the time period, and the project.
Donations are made to the Genealogical Society of New Jersey, a registered 501(c)3 organization, and may be tax-deductible. Please consult your tax advisor.