Passaic County NJ GenWeb Project -- Research options and contacts
To extend your research beyond the data and lookups that are available online, you have some options in acquiring further information.

Visiting libraries, archives, or cemeteries in person

If your research time is limited due to work or travel, be sure to do as much homework ahead of time as possible. Conducting research in a facility that is new to you is often very slow-going at first. Get your game plan in order and enter with a prioritized want-list you can attack from top to bottom.

Using state or county services

If running into a dead-end in your research can be regarded as hitting a brick wall, trying to get records through the State of NJ may be the best example of banging your head against that wall. It is an often-held opinion that New Jersey is the most difficult state in the nation for family researchers to deal with. In many cases there are alternatives to seeking records through the state, but for many 20th century records, including all vital records after 1940, the state offices are your only option. The state can be very slow, error-prone, and reticent in sharing info. Ever-tightening privacy policies and budgets are to blame, it seems. For the best results, proceed with patience and be as specific as possible when submitting requests.

Contracting a genealogist for hire to do the legwork for you

There are quite a few dutiful folks out there that might be able to assist you. If you have already done extensive searching on the internet, you will want to find a researcher for hire who actually knows of the internet's existence and is not going to charge for work you can do online that once required a professional.

Your options in accessing various types of records
Record typeOnlineIn personThrough stateResearch for hire
Census records An index and partial transcript of the 1870 Paterson census are available online. An index of the 1880 census is freely accessible at A complete description of what information each federal and NJ census provides can be found at The National Archives in New York and the NJ Archives in Trenton have all surviving federal census records for NJ including complete records from 1830-1880 and 1900-1930, records for Civil War veterans and their widows in 1890, and the Cumberland County for 1800. Also available are state census records in Passaic County for 1855, 1865, 1885, 1895, 1905, and 1915. These are almost completely unindexed and provide little detail in most cases. Not available Available
Vital records

[before 1941, births to 1923]
Very little available The NJ Archives in Trenton holds birth records from May 1848 to Dec 1923, and marriage and death records from May 1848 to Dec 1940. Also available at the Archives as well as at Lambert Castle are the early colonial marriage bonds (up to 1795). The NJ Archives will search records from May 1848 to May 1878 for a fee. Their work is generally done in a reasonable if not speedy timeframe. They do on occasion inexplicably miss an extant record. Records after 1 Jun 1878 can only be provided by the NJ Department of Health (HSS). Their work can be so extremely slow and sloppy that all other alternatives are advisable. If you cannot research in person, hiring a researcher may be your best way to go.
Modern vital recordsVery little available. SSDI is a good place to start.Not availableFor births after 1923, and all vital records after 1940, the NJ Department of Health (HSS) is the only game in town. These folks have all the flair for service of Seinfeld's 'soup nazi'. Proceed with patience, low expectations, and exacting care for the best results.Not available
Wills and inventoriesAn online index of Passaic wills and inventories can be found on this site. Details regarding the content of these documents are generally not available online.The NJ Archives holds documents from 1837-1952 For wills since 1952 contact:
Superior Court of NJ
Records Management Center
171 Jersey St
CN 967
Trenton, NJ
Cemetery recordsA list of cemetery information can be found on this site. A list of cemetery information can be found on this site.Not availableFinding someone who can conduct local cemetery research is often difficult.
Church recordsA nice compendium of information can be found at the PCHS websiteAvailability varies by church.Not availableAvailable
City directoriesThe only thing I know of is the 1859 Paterson city directoryThe NJ State Library in Trenton and Lambert Castle in Paterson have large collections of directories you can peruse.Not availableAvailable
Newspaper notices & obituariesThe North Jersey Herald and News can be checked out online.You can research a number of Passaic County newspapers in Trenton.Not availableAvailable
DivorcesNot availableDivorces were allowed in NJ through 1850. These early divorces can be researched at the NJ Archives.For divorces after 1850, contact:
Superior Court of NJ
Records Management Center
171 Jersey St
CN 967
Trenton, NJ
Only divorces before 1850 can be researched publicly.
DeedsNot availableThe NJ Archives holds deeds through 1901.Not availableAvailable
Plat mapsI am hoping to add some maps to this site in the future.The NJ State Library in Trenton has a terrific selection of maps for you to peruse.Not availableAvailable
Tax ratablesNot availableThe NJ Archives holds tax ratables for 1773 to 1822.Not availableAvailable
Military & pension recordsDistant Cousin offers a nice collection of online information.The NJ Archives holds a variety of military records. The NJ Archives provides low-cost research of military records for early American wars, the Civil War, and WWI.Available
NaturalizationsNot availableThese can be researched at the NJ Archives including petitions from 1837-1906 and declarations of intent from 1844-1906.The NJ Archives will research naturalization records up to the 1830's for a small fee. For other records you can contact the Passaic County clerk.Available
County recordsLittle availableThe NJ Archives holds a variety of county records.Contact:
County Clerk
77 Hamilton St
Paterson NJ
(973) 225-3632

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