New Jersey State Archives Collection Policy
The State Archives has statutory responsibility for all New Jersey public records deemed to have enduring historical value. Our collecting policy is based on the states public records law, which includes the following provisions:
"The officers of any state department, or of any county or municipality, or of any institution
created under any law of this state, may transfer to the [Division of Archives and Records Management] public records or other records, books, papers, documents, archives, maps or plans which are not in general use"
(N.J.S., Title 47:2-7); and
"The [Division of Archives and Records Management] shall have general and exclusive supervision, care, custody and control of all public records, books, pamphlets, documents,
manuscripts, archives, maps and papers of any public office, body, board, institution
which has or may become extinct
(N.J.S., Title 47:2-5)
Title 47: Public Records
New Jersey Colonial and State Government Records
With regard to records of state and colonial government, the State Archives collecting policy generally encompasses all non-active documents designated as "Permanent" in the General Records Retention Schedule for All State Agencies or in the specific records retention schedules of individual agencies. Further, record series whose disposition is designated as "Archival Review" in the state retention schedules are subject to appraisal by the professional staff of the Archives, who will determine their possible historical value. The State Archives may opt to accession all or part of the records appraised during an "archival review." Finally, during the routine processing of requests for records disposal, DARM staff may select certain unscheduled or non-permanent records for possible review and/or accessioning.
County and Local Government Records
The State Archives encourages county and municipal governments to establish their own archival facilities in order to protect their permanent records locally. However, at present such programs are not consistently in place locally. In order to protect historical public records vulnerable to loss, the State Archives has developed specific guidelines for the accessioning of county and municipal government records. The 1991 Court Bifurcation Act (P.L. 1991, c. 199) prompted a revision of these guidelines to facilitate accessioning of former county court records now the legal responsibility of the state court system. Link to County and Local Records Accessioning Guidelines for a list of record series eligible for transfer to the Archives.
Records of federal government agencies are the responsibility of the National Archives and Records Administration. While New Jersey State Archives and its predecessors have accessioned a small number of New Jersey-related collections from federal repositories (including records of the WPAs New Jersey Writers Project), we do not actively pursue the acquisition of federal records.
Generally speaking, the State Archives does not actively pursue the acquisition of non-governmental records. The following exceptions apply:
Records documenting early land transactions:
The State Archives is New Jerseys central repository for early original land records, including: colonial deeds recorded by the Provincial Secretary; wills and estate inventories from 1670s-1952; "lost deeds" recreated by the Supreme Court after the Revolutionary War; records of the General Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey and the Council of Proprietors of West New Jersey (on deposit); state deeds and right-of-way acquisition records; and many other record series. The State Archives also holds microfilm of most pre-1900 deeds and mortgages filed at the county level, and pre-1900 county estate records. Considering this, it has been the long-standing policy of the State Archives to accept donations of original land records and surveys, or early manuscript collections containing them – especially unrecorded deeds.
Records of military officers documenting service of New Jersey residents:
The State Archives will typically accept donations of captains papers, muster rolls, and other original pre-World War I service records. Such materials supplement and complement the State Archives holdings of records from the Adjutant Generals Office and provide additional information on military service of New Jersey residents. The State Archives does not typically accept collections of twentieth-century soldiers correspondence.
Personal papers of high-ranking New Jersey government officials from the colonial or early statehood periods:
The State Archives will typically accept donations of pre-1900 letters and other personal papers of high-ranking New Jersey officials. Donors offering collections of more recent personal papers of legislators, judges and governors will likely be directed to other repositories. The State Archives, however, has legal authority over all official records of all former New Jersey governors and other state officials.
Records of transportation companies:
The State Archives will consider donations of early New Jersey transportation corporation records that complement existing holdings or supplement documentation of the states road network and transit system.
Historical maps, atlases and photographs:
The State Archives will typically accept donations of original New Jersey maps (printed or manuscript), atlases and lithographs. Original photography showing New Jersey historic sites, government activities or officials, selected historical events, and aerial views are also typically welcome.