New Jersey is among the states with robust, extensive obituary and other genealogical resources both online and offline. Obituaries, cemetery records, wills, death certificates, these are some of the documents that you can use in your own genealogical research. What is particularly advantageous is that a lot of the records available online are old, some dating back as far as the late 18th century, which greatly increases your chances of success if you are trying to locate a very old obituary or another form of death announcement.
Any obituary search starts with identifying the name of the person who you will be researching, and from then on accumulating as much information about them as possible. Necessary details relevant to obituary search include their date of death and place of death. While this may be easy to find out about recently deceased, for more remote ancestors it could be hard. It's useful to know your best sources of information in this respect. These could be grouped into three categories: state and local authorities, public libraries and historical societies, and online databases.
The relevant state and local authorities can be accessed from NJ.gov and include the Department of Health, which keeps death certificates from 1914 to date, and the State Archives. The former can issue you with a copy of a death certificate, provided it is more than 40 years old and not subject to restricted access due to confidentiality concerns. Registrar's offices in each New Jersey municipality also keep vital records and can issue you with a copy of an historical death certificate.
The State Archives, however, are one of the best places for older death records. They keep a searchable digital collection of death records for the period 1878 to 1890 that includes not just death certificates but also burial and reburial records, transit and disinterment records. The collection currently has more than 300,000 entries. The State Archives also holds vital records from 1848 to 1940 but these can only be accessed on site. A separate collection lists all the New Jersey men who died in the First World War. This collection has more than 3,400 entries including names and information cards or photographs. As a whole, the total number of death and burial records at the Archives covers the period from 1720 to 1988, with more than a million entries, a fact that should make the Archives a preferred statewide source of genealogical information.
Public libraries also sometimes have abundant genealogical resources, but what they are very useful for is newspaper searches, since they all keep historical and contemporary newspaper collections. The Burlington County Library System, for example, has a database of almost 75,000 death notices and obituaries, and nearly 30,000 burial notices from local newspapers. The period that the collection covers starts from 1810 and ends in the late 20th century. Although the collection is very extensive, the library warns that it has no complete run for any of the newspapers it includes.
The New Brunswick Free Public Library also has a lot to offer with regard to genealogical research. Collections include digitized runs of three newspapers from New Brunswick and Middlesex county, as well as a microfilm collection of a lot more local titles. The library also provides links to various cemetery records for the area, and a list of casualties from New Brunswick in the Civil War, the Second World War, and other armed conflicts.
The Warren County Library, for its part, keeps online obituary indexes spanning 1826 to 1911. The index includes the full name of the decedent, the date the obituary was published, and the page on which it appeared. The names of the newspapers from which the obituaries were taken are at the top of the first index page. Once you locate the obituary you need, you can either go to the library and view it on microfilm, or request a copy. You can do this by sending a self-addressed and stamped envelope with your request to the Warren County Library. The service is free of charge, and you can request as many as five obituary photocopies. The information you need to include in the request is the same that appears on the index.
Genealogical societies are also an important repository of obituary information. The Hudson County Genealogical & Historical Society, for instance, keeps a number of databases including newspaper obituaries, cemetery records, church records, and funeral home death records. All databases are searchable online by name, or you can simply browse through them to find the information you need.
Another genealogical society, from Bergen county, maintains an extensive database of cemetery records from the area. The information contained in the records includes full name, sex, date of death, age at the time of death, and gravestone inscription. The society also keeps a number of vital record indexes, including church records and cemetery records not just from the county but from all around New Jersey, as well as from New York.
The last category of search resources includes nationwide databases, which collect obituaries from a vast number of newspapers. These are particularly useful for more recent obituaries, but some go back to the beginning of the 20th century. The majority of these websites are free to use, but they usually require paid subscription for detailed data.
While some will show you an index entry including the full name of the decedent and the date of death, along with the name of the newspaper that carried the obituary, and the date of publication, others will display the full text of the death notice. Such websites are particularly beneficial at the start of a search, when you don't know the full name of the person you are researching but are sure there is an obituary. Based on the information the database returns, you will be able to deduce which entry is the best match for what you already know.
New Jersey can be said to be among the states with the most abundant obituary and other genealogical search resources available online, which makes such searches faster than in other places. Still, make sure to be patient, as not all the information is accessible in digital form and you may have to do some searches offline - but that can be fun too!