Volume 4 • Issue 1 2006 spring Home
West Jersey Proprietors' Archive Comes To Trenton
by Division Of Archives and Records Management
The Concessions and Agreements of the Proprietors, Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Province of West New Jersey in America, 1677
The Concessions and Agreements of the Proprietors, Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Province of West New Jersey in America, 1677
In early December 2005, the Council of Proprietors of West New Jersey formally deposited its vast collection of land surveys, minute and account books, and maps with the State Archives.  The collection, spanning three centuries of land sales and settlement in the western half of the New Jersey, was previously maintained in the Surveyor General’s Office in Burlington.  However, without staff and other resources, the Proprietors were able to make the archive available to researchers on a limited basis only.

Under the depository agreement, the State Archives will now care for the manuscripts and administer public access to them.  The Council retains legal ownership of the documents, although the deposit is intended to be long-term (i.e., open-ended).  The agreement authorizes the State Archives staff to make professional determinations relating to the arrangement and description (i.e., cataloging and indexing) of the records, reformatting of portions of the collection (i.e., microfilming and/or imaging), and decisions as to whether the condition and level of inventory of specific documents or groups of documents will allow research use of original materials.

The collection includes eleven large parchment documents dating from 1664 to 1763; 55 bound volumes of minutes, surveys, warrants, and other records dating from 1676 to 1909; 20 cubic feet of loose papers, including survey returns from 1680 to the 1900s; and 52 boxes of rolled maps and plans dating back to the 1700s.

State Archive Collection Manager Ellen R. Callahan and West Jersey Surveyor General William H. Taylor package bundles of miscellaneous, loose papers.
State Archive Collection Manager Ellen R. Callahan and West Jersey Surveyor General William H. Taylor package bundles of miscellaneous, loose papers.
Chief of Archives Joseph R. Klett proposed and negotiated the depository arrangement with the West Jersey Council officers over the last two years.  The collection includes the 1676 “Quintipartite Deed” dividing the colony of New Jersey into eastern and western provinces, and West Jersey’s 1677 “Concessions and Agreements of the Proprietors, Freeholders and Inhabitants.”  The deposit joins a large volume of related proprietary and colonial records transferred to the State Archives from the Secretary of State’s Office in the 1960s and the complete archive of the East Jersey Proprietors, which dissolved in 1998.  State Archives staff and West Jersey Council members completed their inventory, packaging and relocation of the collection from the Surveyor General’s Office in Burlington to Trenton in November.

On December 14, the Council of Proprietors and the State Archives celebrated this historical development with a press event and exhibition unveiling selected manuscripts.  The event included short addresses by West Jersey Council President Robert S. Haines, Surveyor General William H. Taylor, Clerk Daniel W. Haines, State Senator Diane B. Allen of Burlington, DARM Director Karl J. Niederer, and Mr. Klett.

For more information on the collection, the State Archives’ access policy and the December 14 event, please visit: www.njarchives.org/links/wjp.html.