The Trenton Historical Society does not have its own library or archives. We do provide some basic research services (done by volunteers at who use local libraries) and are attempting through our website to provide tools for researchers. The Trenton Historical Society does not have the resources to do generalized searches for family members, living or dead. We limit ourselves to only the specific items listed on our research services page. Response time may vary greatly depending on the type, time and amount of requests. Obituary requests will only be filled if the complete date (Month, Day & Year) is provided. Any research beyond these services may require employing a trained genealogist or in-person research. If you are attempting to find your Trenton ancestors, you may also want to contact the Central Jersey Genealogy Club, explore the Mercer County Genealogy Website or join the Mercer Genealogy listserv.
If you’re planning a research trip to Trenton the best places to visit are:
New Jersey State Archives/State Library
The New Jersey State Archives has a number of resources that might interest someone researching their family history. Their on-line catalog is a good starting point with some searchable databases and imaged collections providing immediate access. Vital Statistics information such as birth, marriage and death certificates (1848 to 1878), as well as other records, is available through the mail for a fee. Certain records can only be accessed in-person, such as birth records from 1879 to 1923 and death and marriage licenses from 1879 to 1940.
Trentoniana Room of the Trenton Public Library
Since its inception in 1902, the Trenton Public Library has been collecting and preserving bits and pieces of the city’s history. The Trentoniana Room in the main branch of the library on Academy Street houses this amazing collection devoted to Trenton’s rich past. Among its holdings are
- documents and letters dating back as far as 1689; (see trenton manuscripts)
- the original records of Trenton’s 18th and 19th Century volunteer fire companies;
- product samples and business records from local companies,including C.V. Hill, John A. Roebling and Sons, Star Porcelain, and the city’s old streetcar company; (see trenton made, employee records)
- handwritten police blotters from 1892 through 1914; (see criminal records)
- more than 200,000 images in the photograph collection;
- diaries and scrapbooks compiled by city residents;
- microfilmed copies of every Trenton daily newspaper since 1778;
- property tax records between the 1930s and 1950s; (see land records)
- a large collection of early maps and atlases of Trenton;
- ephemera and records from the city’s clubs and organizations,including the archives of the Engineers Club of Trenton, the Rotary Club, the Jewish Historical Society, the Business and Professional Women’s’ Club and the Lions.
Most of the materials are not indexed; therefore, you may need to devote a large amount of time searching through any given item. A visit to Trentoniana is most fruitful after you have determined the basics and are seeking to fill in the details of an ancestor’s life.
Mercer County Clerk/Surrogate
The Mercer County Clerk’s office located in the Mercer County Courthouse Annex on South Broad Street at Market, houses land records (deeds and mortgages) for the county dating back to its creation in 1838. Alphabetical indexes of sellers and buyers assist genealogical researchers.
The Surrogate’s office located in the nearby Civil Courthouse is the repository for the county’s wills and other legal documents pertaining to estates.
Other Data Sources
Many records of churches, orphanages, and other private organizations have been lost. Some early records have been published in church histories or may be in the hands of still-active parishes. Another source to check is the Family History Library, and its satellite Family History Centers, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Their holdings for Trenton include some records not readily available anywhere else.
Using this Website
This website has an internal search feature that should be helpful to most users; however, perusing the separate pages may yield additional information (particularly if a last name has multiple possible spellings). Whole sections are devoted to obituaries, city directories, high school yearbooks, and cemeteries which have obvious genealogical value. Other pages may provide researchers with more obscure gems of family history. For example, chronological indexes from the mid 19th to early 20th century newspapers often had colorful local news & gossips such as this entry from May 8, 1857:
“James Watson died, aged 27. Weather very mild. A son of Azariah Rowley rescued from drowning by Samuel McClurg. An attempt made to fire the barn of Geo. Sweet.”
In addition, the 1929 History of Trenton has dozens of thumbnail biographies, the Trenton Made page has several pages on employees and lists of local industries, the Documents page has data on local manuscripts (including items such as personal letters and legal papers) and the a report on Trenton in 1775 has citations on property owners. Sometimes, documents without apparent genealogical interest may provide interesting insight into the place and time your family inhabited while in Trenton.
Some information of genealogical interest that doesn’t have its own section can be found from this page:
- Marriage Records
- Census Records
- Immigration and Naturalization Records
- Criminal Records
- Employee Records
- Educational Records
- Land Records
This webpage was made possible by a history re-grant from the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission.