POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - May 6, 2000

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

May 6, 2000


Albert Marotta (#1018)
The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers in Person met on May 6, 2000 at the Housing Authority Community Room in Garfield, NJ.

Annita Zalenski (#39) alerted members that the editors of the series, Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, have just completed volume 12 and its contents now includes listings through April 1899. She also mentioned that the seminar sponsored by the Italian Genealogical Group of NY was excellent. Giulio Salemme was the featured speaker and one of our members, Sal Lagatutta (#3352), also gave a presentation.

Geri Mola, offered the group the All-Purpose Room at the Municipal Building in Elmwood Park as a possible new location for future PIP meetings beginning in 2001.

Lillian Pappas (#3717) presented the treasurer's report and said that the chapter now has a total of 41 paid members; however, there are 51 individuals on our membership roster. A reminder will be included with the next meeting notice.

Mr. Alan Delozier, of Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, was the guest speaker. He gave the group a brief overview of the history of the Catholic Church in NJ and of the records contained in the Newark Archdiocesan Archives. It is important to know the history in order to have some understanding of where the records being sought might be located.

The first missionary priests visited NJ in 1672 and by 1765 the first Catholic community was organized at the very northern part of the state (presently in the Paterson Diocese). Originally NJ belonged to the Diocese of Baltimore, its bishop visiting Trenton in 1803. The state was divided in 1808 between the Diocese of Philadelphia (which had jurisdiction over the western and southern part of NJ) and the Diocese of NY (which had jurisdiction over the eastern part of the province of NJ). It wasn't until 1844 when Catholics obtained full civil liberty and rights in NJ. The first Italian parish in the Diocese of Newark, Holy Rosary in Jersey City, was established in 1886.

The Diocese of Newark separated from NY, was formed in 1853 and comprised the entire state. Seton Hall College was established in 1856, as the first diocesan-run college in the U.S. Trenton established its own diocese in 1881 and took from the Newark Diocese 14 southern and central counties. When in 1937 the Church of Newark was elevated and became an archdiocese, three northern counties separated from Newark and created the Paterson Diocese. The Camden Diocese was formed out of Trenton in the same year, taking the far southern counties. Finally in 1981, the Metuchen Diocese was established from the diocese of Trenton and was given the counties of upper-central NJ.

Presently, the Archdiocese of Newark comprises four counties: Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union. It includes 236 parishes, 138 elementary schools, 19 high schools, four colleges, seven hospitals and various other institutions. Although the archdiocese is one of the smallest geographically, it has the ninth largest Catholic population out of 191 dioceses in the U.S.

The Special Collections Center at Walsh Library of Seton Hall University includes the archives of the University, the colleciton of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark and manuscript collections of several prominent persons in NJ history. Also included are the Rare Book Collection, the MacManus Irish History and Literature Collection, the Gerald Murphy Civil War Collection and the Seton family papers. The Archdiocese of Newark Archives was established at Seton Hall in 1977 in cooperation with the New Jersey Historical Records Commission. It contains extensive papers of the former bishops and archbishops of Newark, including diaries and correspondence, individual parish histories, parish census data, church and school building histories, oral histories and some sacramental records, etc. The archive is also the repository for the sacramental records of churches within the archdiocese that have closed within the last 20 years. Records of Catholic schools and information about other Catholic institutions might be found here. Among other items of interest are The Monitor (incomplete), the only major Catholic newspaper in NJ between 1906-1930 and The Catholic Advocate, the current archdiocesan newspaper. Also the archives has applications for banns of matrimony 1927-present, Mix Marriage Dispensation Files 1875-1924 and General Dispensations 1925-1940.

If a researcher wishes to locate a Roman Catholic parish by town for a given year, the archives has: Sadlier's Catholic Directory, Almanac and Ordo (1833-1896); Metropolitan Catholic Almanac and Laity's Directory (1838-1861); The Official Catholic Directory (1886-Present) by P. J. Kenedy & Sons.

Good histories of the archdiocese of Newark include: The History of the Diocese of Newark 1873-1901, by Rev. Carl Hinrichsen; The Catholic Church in New Jersey, by Rev. Joseph M. Flynn (1904); The Bishops of Newark 1853-1978 (Seton Hall University Press)

Of particular interest for researchers of Italian parishes, the archives has the baptismal register 1886-1968, marriage registers 1887-1918, death registers 1905-1929, 1950-1968, Confirmation and First Communion registers circa 1905-1960, and school students' academic and attendance records 1917-1960 for St. Philip Neri Italian Church, Newark. Also, they have the baptismal register 1917-1922 for St. Lucy's Church in Newark.

It is important to remember that there is no requirement for parishes to donate their records to the archives. Thus many sacramental records remain in the individual parishes. Also, if a parish was part of a different diocese during its history, it might be useful to check archives in both dioceses. Finally, the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church has its own jurisdiction and they keep their own records. The Archives at Seton Hall can be reached at 973-761-9476 or Seton Hall University Library.

The chapter's next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 5, 2000 at the Community Room of the Garfield Housing Authority.

Future meetings will be held:
February 2, 2001, May 5, 2001, and August 4, 2001 in Elmwood Park.


E-mail POINTers Chapter 15