Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center

About the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center

Preserving New Jersey's History

The Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center (New Jersey Room) is a research-level collection of materials relating to New Jersey, Essex County and Newark. It includes both historical and current information in these formats: books, newspapers, documents, pictures and archives.

On January 18, 2006, The Newark Public Library’s New Jersey Information Center was renamed the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center.

See below for information about the collections & tips for genealogical research.


The Robert Treat Endowment

Your support of the Library’s Robert Treat Endowment Fund helps to ensure that the New Jersey Information Center collections are enhanced and preserved in perpetuity. The fund was created in 2005 by Charles F. Cummings. To learn more about giving, click here.


Who Was Charles Cummings?

Mr. Cummings, Assistant Director of Special Collections and Statewide Outreach, passed away on December 21, 2005. He was a valued employee since joining The Newark Public Library on July 15, 1963, and was recognized as the Newark City Historian. Learn More.


Digital Collection

The Newark Public Library received a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to digitize a portion of its historical materials. Several collections from the CFCNJIC already available in our digital archive
or read more about the project.


Knowing Newark

From 1996 through 2005, Charles Cummings wrote weekly Knowing Newark columns for The Star-Ledger. With the gracious support of The Star-Ledger and Newark Celebration 350, we are pleased to make all of the columns available in this keyword searchable website.

The Collection

Books

Newspapers

Documents

Pictures

Indexes

Directories

Archives

Genealogy Guide

NPL's Online Materials

The book collection (searched via the catalog) includes a variety of popular as well as scholarly items, including theses and dissertations. The backbone of the historical collection includes municipal, county, local and regional histories covering all parts of the state. Enriching the materials are bibliographies, an author and imprint collection, and fiction set in New Jersey. We are particularly strong in the 300s and 900s: social science and history. We also carry the New Jersey Statutes Annotated for people doing basic legal research.

There are 2500 maps, historical and current, bound and on film, searchable in a card file in the CFCNJIC reading room. We also have Sanborn maps for the state on microfilm, along with other fire insurance atlases for Newark and Essex County in hard copy.

The CFCNJIC also has a small collection of yearbooks: Inventory of Yearbooks owned by CFCNJIC

There is some newspaper coverage for New Jersey from 1791 to the present, almost entirely on microfilm. We have daily newspapers for Newark beginning in 1832.  The biggest Newark papers are the Daily Advertiser (1832-1907), the Newark Evening News (1883-1972), and the Star-Ledger (1939-present). We also have several non-daily papers published in Newark, including the New Jersey Afro-American (1941-1988), the New Jersey Jewish News (1946-present), and the Italian Tribune (1934-present). Papers not published in Newark include the Jersey Journal (1957-2011) and Bergen Record (1962-2010).

A complete list of newspapers in our collection is here: Inventory of New Jersey Newspapers on Microfilm. A partial list of periodicals (magazines, newsletters, etc, not microfilmed newspapers ) in our collection is found here and these can also be searched via our catalog .

The public is able to print and e-mail scans of microfilmed articles or pages at the library. If you are unable to come in to the library, please contact njreference@npl.org for information about getting copies via mail or e-mail. A fee ($15 for up to three obits,  or 10 pages of copies, and 30 minutes research) will apply for out-of-state residents.

There is a limit of three (3) obituary, death notice, or article lookups per month per patron. For obit requests please include: date of death (if possible) and full name of deceased.

If you have a project that requires more than 30 minutes research please see our Gateway Service fees. We also recommend using a professional researcher.

Finding Subject Clippings:

The Newark Evening News Clippings Archive contains 3 million articles on microfilm arranged by subject [Sample Page].

Browse the Newark Evening News Clippings Archive by letter:
|A-C| |D-H| |I-New Jersey| |Newark| |Neway-S| |T-Z|
To search the Clippings Archive, click Edit, Find and Replace (on the Google Drive interface) and type in your search term. The first column states the reel number (available in CFCNJIC, write this down if you plan to come into the room and view articles), the second column states the date of the earliest article (articles continue until 1972), the third column is the subject, the fourth column contains the number of articles, and the fifth column contains references. Press the back button to return to this page.

The Division’s own “Information Files” offer more than 4,000 folders from a variety of newspapers statewide on historical as well as current topics, see Index of Information (Clippings) Files. The file has been added to for more than 50 years and is updated daily by the Division’s staff.

Finding Specific Articles:

For 1914-1972, the CFCNJIC has handwritten yearly indexes to the Newark Evening News (include articles by name and by subject, obituaries listed but not death notices). See Also: Newark Evening News Clippings Archive (above).

For 1972-1982 the Cummings index to the Star Ledger 1971-1982 is searchable online (by subject, only includes large articles).

For 1983-1988 the Cummings index to the Star Ledger is searchable by card file in room (by subject, only includes large articles). A death notice index is also available.

For 1989-present, the Star Ledger is full-text searchable in the room (spotty for early years). A death notice index is also available through the early 2000s.

The New Jersey Periodical Index includes articles from regional and local new Jersey magazines from approximately 1950-2000.

The CFCNJIC has Newark city, Essex County, and New Jersey state documents, as well as quasi-official documents from non-governmental agencies, including many community groups. The CFCNJIC, part of the New Jersey document depository system since 1968, automatically receives all non-legislative state publications. Newark and Essex County documents are added as they are received. We have documents from all city departments, including the Newark Housing Authority, the Central Planning Board, the Mayor’s Office, and the Board of Education.

Only certain recent documents appear in our catalog. A comprehensive search of documents must be done via a card file in the library.

CFCNJIC does not have vital records. These can be found at the New Jersey State Archives or via the Department of Health.

While the CFNJIC does have state censuses, there is no index to the records. They are by ward. It is easier to search for relatives via FamilySearch (1885, 1905, 1915) and then request the relevant images from a FamilySearch Family History Center.

The CFCNJIC owns hundreds of thousands of photographs. The vast majority of them are uncatalogued.

The catalogued picture collection consists of approximately 35,000 photographs and illustrations, mostly black and white, searchable in the library catalog. Included also is a large collection of color postcards. These onsite pictures only are searchable via the Illustration Index.

The uncatalogued pictures include the photo archives of two of New Jersey’s most important newspapers. The Newark Evening News photo archive contains approximately 800,000 black and white images of people and places in New Jersey and around the world, dating from the early 20th century until 1972. The photo archive of the Star-Ledger, contained in 36 filing cabinets and more than 200 boxes, spans the 1970s to the 1990s.

The library owns many other image collections, including the Al Henderson Collection of negatives, 38,000 mostly studio portrait images of African Americans taken in the mid-20th century.

All of these collections are stored off site and are available by appointment. Searches of these photos can be requested by e-mail or phone.

Additionally, the library owns a photo collection of almost every Newark street during the 1960s. The Samuel Berg Photograph Collection has recently been digitized and is available here.

Several other collections of photos have also been digitized and are available here.

Items owned by the Library may be copied for publication subject to institutional copy fees. The Star Ledger must approve requests for use of Star Ledger photos. Note that it is the patron’s responsibility to determine copyright of images.

Click here for information about publishing our photos or obtaining high resolution tiff files of photos.

Dissemination of local history is available through indexes compiled by library staff. Samples include the NJ Illustration Index, the NJ Periodical Index, and the Cummings index to the Star Ledger 1971-1982 (through 1989 in card file).  One large index not prepared by library staff is that of the Newark Evening News, which covers 1914-1972.

Other available indexes and inventories include:

The CFCNJIC has city directories in both print and microfilm for selected locations statewide, with an emphasis on northern New Jersey. In addition, we have a collection of New Jersey phone books on microfilm covering the years from 1908 to 1990. Hard copy Newark phone books back to 1972, and recent hard copy books for nearby areas, are kept in the Division.

Index of city directories.

Please place requests for non-Newark directories at least two days before coming to the room, as these are kept in another area of the library. Requests can be made by e-mail or phone.

New Jersey ephemera is one of the Division’s most unusual and interesting areas. It includes traditional papers such as those of the Newark Eagles, the Newark Public Library Archives (“Librariana”), and several hundred scrapbooks of agencies and/or individuals. Some examples of archives material are the records of Newark’s 250th anniversary celebration in 1916, the Flanagan Scrapbooks on theatre, and notebooks of the Griffith Music Foundation. We also have collections dedicated to past mayors and other local officials, company records, and memorabilia including invitations, business cards, bumper stickers, posters, restaurant place mats and menus, seals, and buttons.

Recent additions to our archives collections include the papers of former Star-Ledger editor Barbara J. Kukla, civil rights activist Robert Curvin, and magazine publisher Tiny Prince; as well as the records of the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee, and the committee marking Newark’s 350th anniversary.

Finding Aids

Note: These are only a small selection of finding aids. Please go to our catalog for a full listing of collections. Our archives (as well as many from other libraries and historical societies) can also be found via the Newark Archives Project.

Please place requests for viewing archival collections at least one day before coming to the room, as these are kept in another area of the library. Requests can be made by e-mail or phone.

Daniel Sutherland Anthony Papers
This collection consists of the administrative records and correspondence of Daniel S. Anthony pertaining to his work with the U.S. Department of War, the Muncie Community Discussion Council, and the Newark Human Rights Commission. 1942-1976

Banister Shoe Company Collection
This collection consists of records from the James A. Banister Shoe Company of Newark, NJ from 1890-1935, as well as research on the company from 2016.

Wilbur B. Driver Finding Aid
This collection comprises various internal documents and photographs relating to the Wilbur B. Driver Company (“WBD”), a manufacturer and developer of heat-resistant metal alloy wires, ribbons, and other materials. Circa 1900-1920 to 1985

Ernest Erber Papers
This collection consists of the personal records of Ernest Erber, which were formed while he served in the capacity as director and/or member of the executive board of several planning organizations located in Northern New Jersey. 1949-1982

Henry G. Francisco Papers
Collection of papers related to the World War I service of Newark resident Henry G. Francisco.

K.P. Galop Papers
Kathleen P. Galop was appointed by the County Executive Historic Preservation Officer and Acting Director of the Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs. Much of the collection pertains to Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ, including materials related to The Newark Cherry Blossom Festival, Historic Register Nomination, Branch Brook Park Alliance, Essex County Parks Department, and research used in Galop’s co–authored book.

Pamela E. Goldstein Collection
This collection covers the first few terms of the Sharpe James mayoralty, 1986-2002. Materials were donated by Pamela E. Goldstein, the press spokeswoman for Mayor James.

Hellenic Heritage Collection
This collection consists of photographs, certificates, passports, clippings, and ephemera reflecting the Greek-American community of Newark, New Jersey during the 20th century. ca. 1906-2007

D.J. Henderson Collection
Dorland J. and Elizabeth (Betty) Henderson took an active interest in preservation, education, and the city of Newark. The collection reflects the breadth of the Hendersons’ interests with materials on engineering, the preservation of their house, and many organizations with which they were involved.

Charles W. Holton Family Scrapbooks
The Charles W. Holton Family Scrapbooks contain photographs, narratives, and maps documenting a 1936 trip to England and Sweden taken by the Holton family, of Essex Fells, New Jersey.

Kurt Landsberger Collection
The bulk of the collection relates to the Save the Mountain organization which Landsberger founded in 1981. Included in the collection are minutes, correspondence, notes, membership lists, clippings and press releases, flyers, and reports.

Barbara J. Kukla Papers
This collection consists of the papers and collected materials of Newark reporter and author Barbara J. Kukla. The bulk of the collection is from the 1970s-2000s and spans a variety of subjects including education, politics, religion, arts, culture, and history, with a focus on the African-American community.

Newark Celebration 350 Records
The papers of the committee that funded events marking the 350th anniversary of Newark in 2016.

Tiny Prince Collection
Carl Brinson (Tiny Prince) published magazines related to jazz, nightlife, and African-Americans in Newark from the 1950s-2000s. He also worked for the city of Newark for many years. The collection consists of photographs, papers, and periodicals.

Norman-Thomas-Riots Police Records
Newark Police Department records from the investigation surrounding a riot in Military Park at a speech of Socialist Norman Thompson against Jersey city mayor Frank Hague in 1938. Includes witness statements, transcripts, reports, and photographs.

Edward J. White Papers
Collection of financial records, photographs and personal correspondence of Edward J. White, an electrical contractor and his company, based in Newark, N.J. 1913-1958.

Librariana

Librariana
The records of the Newark Public Library, known as Librariana, include manuscript and printed materials, photographs and graphics, and other materials. The bulk of it covers the years from its founding in 1889 to the present. It is arranged alphabetically for the most part.

Librariana I: History 
This small collection on the History of the Newark Public Library consists mostly of secondary articles and essay written by various staff members.

Librariana II: Trustees
The papers of the Board of Trustees consist of by–laws, minutes (and other materials relating to its monthly meetings), correspondence, information on individual trustees, and other reports and documents.

Librariana III: Reports
This collection of records consists of the published annual reports, as well as the director’s reports, the assistant director’s reports, the deputy director’s reports, and the departmental reports.

Librariana IV: Financial Records
These financial records consist of auditor’s reports, budgets and budget reports, financial reports and statements, treasurer’s reports, contracts, and information on bequests.

Librariana V: Buildings
This collection of materials documents the activities that the Newark Public Library undertook to build, adapt, maintain, and otherwise take care of the physical places under its administration, including the Main Library on Washington Street and the various branches throughout the city.

Librariana VI: Administrative Papers of Directors

Frank P. Hill Papers
Frank Pierce Hill was the first Director of the Newark Public Library. The collection consists of 11 boxes of reports, correspondence, and contracts.

John Cotton Dana Papers
Dana was the Director of the Newark Public Library, a position he would hold until his death in 1929. The John Cotton Dana Papers consist of correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, printed material, etc…relating to the life and work of John Cotton Dana; to his interests in libraries, museums, fine printing, and education; and particularly to his work at the Newark Public Library and the Newark Museum.

Beatrice Winser Papers
Collection of correspondence of Beatrice Winser, Librarian of the Newark Public Library 1929-1942.

John Boynton Kaiser Papers
John Boynton Kaiser was the Director of the Newark Public Library from 1943 to 1958. The collection consists of biographical and bibliographical information, including the reproduction of some of his essays and articles, plus his monthly reports, mostly of a statistical nature.

James E. (“Ned”) Bryan Papers
James Edmund (“Ned”) Bryan was the Assistant Director of the Newark Public Library from 1943 to 1958, and the Director from 1958 to 1972. The collection documents Bryan’s work as Assistant Director and then Director of the Newark Public Library from 1943 until 1972, along with his various activities in professional library associations and community organizations.

Shein, Urban, and Alrutz Administrations (1972-1988)
These working papers cover relations with the American Library Association, the New Jersey Library Association, and other organizations; specialized library services and reports; public information; staff relations; and other topics relating to the operations of the Library.

Librariana VII: Departmental Records
Many of these records are reports, but include acquisitions lists, statistics, press releases, and other such information.

Librariana VIII: Staff
These materials relating to the staff are arranged in three series: 1) Staff Association; 2) Staff Notices; and 3) Staff Members.

• Librariana IX: Publications
This collection is arranged in the following four series: monographs, books, serials, and miscellaneous publications.

Librariana X: Scrapbooks
Throughout its history, the staff of the Newark Public Library has put together scrapbooks documenting its activities. These scrapbooks contain program announcements, leaflets, brochures, booklists, newspaper clippings, etc.

Librariana XI: Photographs
The collection consists of photographs of the Newark Public Library, including its buildings, branches, departments, directors, staff members, trustees, patrons, programs, exhibits, etc…

Charles F. Cummings Papers
The Charles F. Cummings Papers consist of drafts, notes, research files, administrative material, correspondence, exhibit labels, photographs, etc. related to Cummings’ work in the New Jersey Information Center and other areas of the Newark Public Library; his writings, talks, tours, and exhibits related to Newark history; and his interest in, and advocacy for, the City of Newark.

Newark Library Association
Chartered in 1847, the Newark Library Association was a private organization, a subscription library, which required members to purchase shares of stock in order to utilize the collections. The collection includes a catalogue, register, and other items.

Newark Museum Association Papers
The Newark Museum Association was founded by John Cotton Dana and other civic leaders in 1909. It grew out of a series of exhibitions on the fine arts, decorative arts, and natural sciences that were held on the 4th floor of the Newark Public Library from 1902 onward. For the first 17 years of its existence, it operated out of the Library; then in 1926 it moved into its new building at 49 Washington Street. This collection of materials consists of scrapbooks and publications.

Frances E. W. Harper Literary Society
The Frances E. W. Harper Literary Society was founded in 1987 to provide intellectual stimulation to the citizens of Newark. This very small collection consists of general information, annual report, brochures, leaflets, programs, photocopies of photographs, and other miscellaneous items relating to the society and its activities.

Doing a genealogy project? Newark Public Library can help! Please read the information below about NJ/Newark resources and if you have more questions send them to njreference@npl.org, we are always happy to help!

For the below resources, if you are unable to come in to the library, please contact njreference@npl.org for information about getting copies via mail or e-mail. A fee of $15 for up to three obits,  or 10 pages of copies, and 30 minutes research will apply for out-of-state residents. There is a limit of three (3) obituary, death notice, or article lookups or 30 minutes research per month per patron. If you have a project that requires more than 30 minutes of research please see our Gateway Service fees. We also recommend using a professional researcher.

Obituaries, newspaper articles, and death notices: Obituaries, articles and death notices are a major genealogical resource! In Newark papers these can be found at the library.  For obit requests please include: date of death (if possible) and full name of deceased. See “Newspapers” tab for more information.

City Directories: City directories can tell where an ancestor lived at any given period. The CFCNJIC owns city directories for many towns in NJ. See “Directories” tab or our Inventory of Directories.

Pictures: If you have a famous ancestor or your ancestor had their picture in the newspaper, the library may have a picture of them. See “Pictures” tab.

Books: Some books cover certain families or towns. See “Books” tab, our catalog, and our Guide to Genealogical Books. Yearbooks are also a helpful genealogical source. See our Inventory to Yearbooks. Note that we did not historically collect yearbooks. If we don’t have the yearbook you need there is information on other places you might try here.

Archives: The best way to search for the archives of a particular school or church that an ancestor attended in Newark, or from a particular neighborhood in Newark is the Newark Archives Project. This website contains an index to archives from all over the United States. For non-Newark materials, search our catalog . We recommend contacting a local library if you are looking for non-Newark material. There is information on libraries with local history collections, further down this page.

Vital Records: The majority of vital records can be found at the Department of Health or New Jersey State Archives. Some very early vital records can be found at NPL in the Guide to Genealogical Books.

Building Documents: Deeds and mortgages can be found at the Essex County Hall of Records . A limited collection of building permits is at the Newark City Archives.

Misc Documents: The library has a collection of city annual reports and other documents (our collection also includes non-city organizations like day care centers, social service organizations, and clubs) that may pertain to ancestors (see Documents tab). Further city documents can be found at the Newark City Archives.

Newark and NJ Maps: You can see a specific ancestor’s house on a map using our city atlases. We have city atlases from 1868, 1873, 1889, 1901, 1912 and 1926 that show every house (plus a county atlas from 1906 that only shows a small section of the city). We also have a Sanborn map updated through 1989 and earlier Sanborn maps on microfilm. Newark maps from our collection have been digitized by NJIT here and here, including some atlases and Sanborn maps. The Newark Library in partnership with the Newark City Archives has digitized Newark’s historical ward maps. A limited collection of Sanborn maps of Newark and NJ is available online for free through Princeton University. If you have access through a university, library, or workplace Digital Sanborn Maps is generally the best way to access Sanborn maps. Other digitized NJ and Newark maps can be found through Rutgers digital collection.

Other Newark Archives:

Other Places In NJ with Genealogical Collections:

General

By county:

Research help:

Online Resources: 

Further links of interest

Online Materials from NPL

The Newark Public Library now has a DIGITAL COLLECTION, click here to see digitized photos and documents.

Ankner, T. (2013). Libraries & Repositories: The Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center at the Newark Public Library. GSNJ Newsletter, 22(1) 6–7.

Knowing Newark: Selected Star-Ledger Columns by Charles F. Cummings, features over 500+ columns written about Newark by noted librarian, historian, and author Charles F. Cummings and originally published in the Star-Ledger

Newark History and Genealogy Web Guide (First see: Genealogy Guide Tab)

New Jersey History and Genealogy Web Guide (First see: Genealogy Guide Tab)

Read about Newark’s Literary Lights (pdf of original 2002 publication)

Read about Newark’s Literary Lights (pdf of the 2016 publication, updated for the 350th Anniversary of the Founding of the City of Newark, NJ)

Full-text articles about the 1967 Newark Riots from the Newark Evening News, July 13 – 16, 1967

NPL’s Youtube Account at youtube.com/NewarkPublicLibrary contains recordings out our historical programs, some programs co-sponsored by the Newark History Society can be found on their Youtube at youtube.com/NewarkHistorySocietyOrg .

For reference questions, research services, and to order copies, call the New Jersey Information Center at (973) 733-7775 or email njreference@npl.org.