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Department of State

New Jersey Historical Commission

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Lt. Governor and Secretary of State
Black Heritage Trail

Black Heritage Trail

Welcome to the webpage for the Black Heritage Trail!

About the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail
The New Jersey Black Heritage Trail was signed into law by Governor Murphy on September 7, 2022. The legislation calls for the New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) to establish a Black Heritage Trail “to promote awareness and appreciation of Black history, heritage, and culture” that will “highlight Black heritage sites through historical markers and a trail-like path that connects the stories of Black life and resiliency.”

Under this program, the Historical Commission will work in cooperation with other state agencies, such as the Historic Preservation Office, the Division of Travel and Tourism, as well as local governments, owners or operators of Black heritage sites, and others to identify a series of sites. The bill also names the New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation as a principal collaborator, due to its mission which includes broadening, deepening, and diversifying statewide participation in and appreciation for Black arts, history, and culture.


New Jersey Black Heritage Trail Sites
In March 2024, the NJHC Black Heritage Trail team received over 60 responses to their first call for nominations. After passing eligibility and historical accuracy reviews, 32 sites were brought before the New Jersey Historical Commission at their public meeting on April 19, 2024. All of the recommended sites were approved in a unanimous decision.

New Jersey Black Heritage Trail 2024 Approved Nominations
New Jersey Black Heritage Trail Press Release

The Black Heritage Trail Marker Nomination Process
The deadline for the submission of the completed nomination is Monday, September 16, 2024, at 2:00 pm. Submissions are not accepted by paper, mail, or fax and must be submitted online. Please carefully read the guidelines before starting your application.

Download the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail Guidelines (PDF)
Link to the Online New Jersey Black Heritage Trail Application Form
New Jersey Black Heritage Trail Application Webinar

PURPOSE: This program coordinates the design, fabrication, and installation of historical markers to commemorate people, places, and events related to Black history and heritage. It also facilitates public engagement and educational events around Black historical sites and their history.

ELIGIBILITY: Nominations can be places where events, people, or organizations have significantly impacted Black history and heritage in New Jersey, either locally or statewide, and where items of political, military, artistic, cultural, or social history have been preserved.

BLACK HERITAGE TRAIL PROGRAM: The New Jersey Historical Commission remains dedicated to providing support for individuals and organizations submitting nominations each fiscal year, to recognize and promote Black heritage sites that are thematically linked by surrounding arts, culture, history, entertainment, or other tourism destinations.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LETTER OF INTENT (LOI): This document is a preliminary letter of one page that outlines your intention to apply for the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail program for the fiscal year 2025 cycle. It should contain the proposed site name, a brief description of the nomination, and the nomination's contact information (Name, organization address, email, and contact phone number). Additionally, it should include the proposed marker location address.

Letter of Intent opens
Letter of Intent due
Application opens
Application due
Notification Letter

May 31, 2024
July 22, 2024
July 1, 2024
September 16, 2024
January 2025


Application Resources
The following are resources to assist with your application:

Application Form to Print (Note: Submissions are only accepted through the online submission form)
The National Network to Freedom Suggestions for Underground Railroad Historical Research Work
Guide for Plotting Marker Location on Maps
National Register Database and Research
New Jersey and National Registers of Historic places


Staff Assistance
The Black Heritage Trail staff is available for questions, comments, and assistance.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a meeting, please complete this form with your contact information and a message describing your inquiry.
Meeting Request Form

Noelle Lorraine Williams
Director, African American History Program and Black Heritage Trail

Dr. Synatra Smith
Project Manager, Black Heritage Trail

Gregory Odey
Assistant Project Manager, Black Heritage Trail

Stay in touch with us!



Research Assistance - Libraries and Archives
The New Jersey State Library or your local library and archive are great resources for assistance with your research work. The goal is to gather as much information as you can to provide evidence to support your nomination.
The New Jersey State Archive is also a great resource. Please note you must make an appointment to access on-site information. They also have searchable databases on their site.
Note: Online webinars are available from The New Jersey State Library and different institutions (archives, libraries, universities, historic houses) to share research strategies and methodologies.

The New Jersey State Library
The New Jersey State Archive
New Jersey Historic Preservation Office
List of New Jersey State Libraries and Archives from The New Jersey State Library
List of New Jersey Resources: Societies, Offices, Libraries, and Archives from The Genealogical Society of New Jersey

Newspaper databases are essential resources to getting primary information about people, sites and communities. Some libraries offer in-house or remote access to newspaper databases.
Contact your local library to find out about access to census directories.
Check to see if your site has been nominated with the national or statewide historic site registries.


New Jersey Historical Commission Affiliated Grant Opportunities
The following grant opportunities are available to individuals and organizations through the New Jersey Historical Commission and the County History Partnership Program (CHPP).

1. New Jersey Historical Commission Project Grants
Funding for expenses of specific projects relating to New Jersey history. Eligible categories include conservation of historical materials (manuscripts, books, costumes, historical visuals); editorial and publication projects; educational initiatives; partnership projects; exhibitions; media (films, radio, videotape, digital media); public programs; capacity building, and research (including archaeological projects, fellowships, oral history, and National and New Jersey registers of historic places nominations).

To apply, please refer to the guidelines below for the FY 2025 Project Grant:

Deadlines for FY 2025 Project Grants are posted below:
Intent to Apply - March 8, 2024
Submission Deadline - April 12, 2024
Notification of Award - July 2024

2. CAPES (Caucus Archival Projects Evaluation Service), provides free professional assessment of archival paper collections by consultants of the New Jersey Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference. There are no deadlines for application, apply anytime. If your New Jersey history organization has a collection of paper items such as manuscripts, books, photographs, and maps, you may take advantage of a FREE assessment from a professional archivist of how your collection can best be conserved.

To apply for the CAPES grant, please visit the grant guidelines and application form at:

3. Artifact Assessment Program (AAP)
Artifact Assessment Program - a service of the New Jersey Association of Museums. This program surveys and evaluates environmental conditions in storage and exhibition areas; storage arrangement and collections management processes; and documentation systems, processes, and intellectual access. There are no deadlines for application, apply anytime. AAP evaluations are performed at no cost to the organization.

To apply for the AAP grant, please visit the grant application form at:

4. The County History Partnership Program (CHPP) was created in 2015 to extend local re-granting programs to all of the state’s 21 counties. The program enables the NJHC to support both existing and emerging local history organizations and practitioners serving diverse audiences. Through the partnership with county re-granting agencies, NJHC support can more effectively reach history organizations and projects in communities throughout the state.

Visit to get a list of County History Partnership Program (CHPP) Contact List and Guidelines (when available).

You may also check the eligibility for grants and other requirements on the Historical Commission page at:


Application Overview Video

The New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, is now accepting the second round of applications for its statewide Black Heritage Trail Program. This video is an overview of the Black Heritage Trail application guidelines for nominations submitted for the 2025 fiscal year. Please note that applications may be submitted before the deadline of Monday, September 16, 2024, at 2:00 pm but they must be complete.

This video offers an overview of the program and the nomination process.

It outlines the requirements for nominations and the preferred documentation style, in addition to providing samples of the materials needed for a comprehensive application.

Furthermore, it offers a detailed step-by-step guide on how to complete an application, including instructions on how to create a map displaying the nomination location and GPS coordinates number.


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