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Document recovery and amnestry public notice missing documents

On August 16th, 2006, New Jersey’s original Bill of Rights left the state for the second time since its receipt by the State Legislature in 1789. The large, framed manuscript joined the four-page Ratification of the United States Constitution for a short trip to Philadelphia, where it was digitally scanned at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia’s Regional Digital Imaging Center. The Center owns specialized equipment designed for scanning of oversized and framed materials, allowing the scans to be done while the documents remained in their specialized housings, suspended in a conservator’s string-matting and behind plexiglass. Athenaeum staff thrilled to be of service to the New Jersey State Archives, within the Department of State, noting that New Jersey’s statehood charters were among the most notable documents to be imaged at the regional center. The Bill’s prior out-of-state “adventure” was also to Philadelphia for the purpose of publicly displaying the document. In 1991, the parchment was featured in a national exhibition commemorating the Bill of Rights bicentennial at Independence Hall National Park in 1991.

Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells joined DARM Director Karl J. Niederer, Chief of Archives Joseph R. Klett, and Bruce Laverty, Curator of Architecture at the Athenaeum for the momentous occasion. Thanks to the regional center, images of the Bill and Ratification are now accessible online (see below), and are also now reproducible. New Jersey was the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights, being the first ten amendments to the federal constitution. The Garden State was the third to ratify the constitution itself, on December 18th, 1787. The four-page ratification contains the full text of our national charter, with its preamble commencing, in proud, bold script “We the People of the United States …”The State Archives would like to acknowledge the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex Vicinage, and the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, who partially funded the digitization project.Click on the links below for images and transcriptions of the documents, as well as further information about and pictures from the scanning event.

Media Advisory for August 16th Event (PDF)

Photos from the Digitization Adventure

Images and Transcription of New Jersey's Ratification of the U.S. Constitution

Images and Transcription of New Jersey's Original Bill of Rights

Photos from the Digitization Adventure

The pictures below document a truly momentous occasion for the State Archives: the digitization of New Jersey’s original Bill of Rights and Ratification of the United States Constitution at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia’s Regional Digital Imaging Center. Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells, DARM Director Karl J. Niederer, Chief of Archives Joseph R. Klett, and Athenaeum Curator of Architecture Bruce Laverty were joined by staff and colleagues as follows: Glen Ruzicka, Director of Conservation at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts; Imaging Center Director Michael Seneca, James Carroll and Denise Fox of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia; Department of State Legislative Liaison Justin Zimmerman; and Collection Manager Ellen R. Callahan and Principal Photographer Joanne M. Nestor of New Jersey State Archives. We would like to specially acknowledge the fine work of Joanne Nestor, who orchestrated the scanning event and also took the photographs below, though--as is the lot of the photographer--is not included in the pictures herself.

Karl J. Niederer and Archivist Catherine Stearns Medich transport a carefully packaged page of the New Jersey Ratification.

Joseph R. Klett and Reference Assistant Jon Bozard transport New Jersey's original Bill of Rights.

New Jersey Network (NJN) Cameraman Tim Stollery films Karl Niederer and Joseph Klett loading the Bill of Rights for its journey to Philadelphia.

Karl Niederer plays roving reporter as Joseph Klett is interviewed by NJN.

Ellen R. Callahan and Justin Zimmerman carry the first manuscript into the Athenaeum.

Glen Ruzicka lends a hand as the parchments are prepared for scanning.

Glen Ruzicka describes CCAHA’s 1988 conservation treatment of the Bill of Rights to Athenaeum staff including Bruce Laverty, James Carroll and Denise Fox.

The five framed parchments are ready for scanning.

Department of State, Athenaeum and CCAHA reps pause for a group shot (from left to right): Karl Niederer, Nina Mitchell Wells, Joseph Klett, Ellen Callahan, Justin Zimmerman, Michael Seneca, Bruce Laverty, Glen Ruzicka and James Carroll.

First up for scanning, the Bill of Rights.

Some last-minute dusting.

James Carroll and Michael Seneca prepare to begin the scanning process.

Nina Wells, Joseph Klett and Karl Niederer look on as James Carroll brings up the scanned image of the Bill of Rights. James Carroll examines the digitized signature of John Adams from the Bill of Rights.