Our online and offline archive collection spans across hundreds of years and focuses on local history. Here is an overview of what you can find in our collection.
Looking for something in our archives? We have designed finding aids, bibliographies, and other resource guides for you to make the most out of our archives and other collections. These tools are prone to updates, so please check back!
The details of life in New Brunswick's Fire Department a century ago are documented in the thousands of pages of the New Brunswick firehouse daily logs. These logs are digitized and only available in the library.
The year is 1922. Edward Wheeler Hall, an episcopal priest, and Eleanor Reinhardt Mills, a member of his choir, are found dead near a farm in Franklin Township. Investigations revealed there was an affair between them; therefore the motive was beginning to form in the minds of local detectives. Hall's wife, Frances Noel Stevens Hall, and her brothers stood accused of murder, and the papers could not stop writing about the case. In the end, they were acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence. No one else was suspected or charged.
In 1755, Henry Guest, who had a flourishing tannery somewhere between Commercial Avenue and Schulyer Streets, bought two and a half acres on what would become the corner of Livingston Avenue and New Street in New Brunswick. Five years later, Guest built a sandstone house in which he and his family lived until his death in 1815.
New Brunswick Free Public Library has a rich local history and genealogy collection related primarily to New Brunswick and Middlesex County. Our holdings include newspaper clippings, books, pamphlets, slides, microfilms, city directories, photographs, post cards, maps, manuscripts, and letters.
Our microfilm list shows the title of the publications followed by the dates of the issues that the library has in its physical collection of microfilm, which can be viewed on one of our readers in the Reference Room.
The Reference Department may be able to supply historical or other general information about New Brunswick cemeteries. Local cemeteries include the Baptist Cemetery, Central (Cheesman) Cemetery, Christ Episcopal Church Yard, Elmwood Cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery North Brunswick, First Dutch Reformed Churchyard, Presbyterian Cemetery, Van Liew Cemetery North Brunswick, the M.E [Methodist Episcopalian] Cemetery, Pitman, the "Old Cath [Catholic] Cemetery", St. Peter’s Cemetery, Poile Zedek Cemetery, and Willow Grove Cemetery. Use our guide to learn about our local cemeteries, or use the brochure version.
In October of 2007, StoryCorps came to the New Brunswick Free Public Library to help capture an oral history of New Brunswick. Residents who grew up in New Brunswick shared their stories in the library. During the two-day period, interviewers logged approximately 10 hours of interviews with 14 residents. Their stories are varied and span several decades.
The library has a variety of historical materials including field books, insurance and tax maps, 166 volumes of the DAR Lineage Books, and city directories from 1855 to 1987. (The library also has phone books for the years following 1987.) Information on local manufacturers, historical buildings, government officials and people, celebrations and events are also available.
A major New Jersey Historical Resource is online thanks to Princeton University Library providing access to their collection of Sanborn Maps. According to their press release: “Each town or city link leads to a town/city website that lists each individual sheet, grouped by year. Clicking on the individual sheet brings up its high-resolution digital image. Copyright restrictions prevent us from showing online images of post-1922 maps — but even those are listed on these websites and can be viewed in person in our department’s reading room in Firestone Library. If the sheet or year is not represented, we don’t have it. A good way to get an idea of which sheet you need to see is to start with an "overview" sheet, if one is provided in the list.
The Magic Carpet was a weekly radio program of WDHN hosted by local resident Virginia Bogan during the 1940s and 1950s. WDHN was the FM radio station owned and operated by The Daily Homes News, a local newspaper owned by the Boyd Family of New Brunswick and Princeton. The Boyd and Bogan families were friends whose children spent time together. It was this fact that led to Mrs. Bogan hosting the program on travel for the station.