Obituaries or death notices have become an invaluable tool in family history research. The type and amount of information they contain varies widely depending on the date, the newspaper, and the subject of the obituary. In general, earlier obituaries contain less data.
For most of its history Trenton has had more than one daily newspaper. The first newspaper published in the city was the New Jersey Gazette which moved here in 1778. It was joined in 1801 by the True American. These early periodicals did not contain regular death notices. They were joined at various times over the 19th century by other short-lived newspapers. Despite slight name changes and periods of inactivity, dailies with the names Gazette & True American were published throughout most of the 1800’s. The True American ceased operation in 1913, while the Gazette carried on until 1942. These two Trenton publishing institutions had been joined by the daily Trenton Times in 1882 and weekly Sunday Advertiser in 1883. The Advertiser was purchased by the Times in 1912 and became its Sunday addition under the name, Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser. The Times is still printing daily newspapers today. The other current daily is the Trentonian which dates from 1946. For more details on the early history of Trenton’s various newspapers consult the Journalism chapter of the 1929 History of Trenton.
An index of deaths and marriages from Trenton newspapers for the years 1770 through 1899 can be found at the New Jersey State Archives. This series of index cards has also been microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and is available through their Family History Centers. It consists of 18 rolls of microfilm divided alphabetically. It is erroroneously labeled 1800-1900.
A grant from the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage paid for the transcription of the entries of this index under the letter ‘A’.
The 1770s-1899 index was created by WPA workers in the 1930’s; recently the work of indexing has been resumed by volunteers, at first, for the Old Mill Hill Society and, now, for the Trenton Historical Society. The earlier years (1901- 1927) were created from the Death Columns of the Sunday Advertiser/Times Advertiser, which until January 1918 listed deaths from the previous week by day. These early years are fairly representative of all obituaries, but not totally comprehensive. For example, a 1903 paper carries a front page story of an train accident that killed 17 Trentonians, only 1 of this group, most of whom were identified as African- or Italian-Americans, was listed in the paper’s Death column. Trenton health officials reported 2,061 deaths in the city in 1910, while the death columns for that year contained a total of 1,433 names from the city & beyond. The switch from a day-by-day recounting in the Sunday paper seems to indicate these subsequent years of index are also less comprehensive. In contast, the 1964 through 1993 indexes were created from the daily newspapers, which is unfortunately a much more time consuming process.
1883-1889 (Partial)H to P
|1964 (October thru December)|
|1965 (October thru December)|
|1967 (October thru December)|
|1973 (October thru December)|
|1993 (October thru December)|
The Trenton Historical Society will, for a fee of $8 per obituary, supply copies of obituaries that appeared in a Trenton newspaper, if you supply the date. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope; a check made out to the Trenton Historical Society; and a note with the name & date to:
Trenton Historical Society
P.O. Box 1112
Trenton, NJ 08606
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