Project History.

The Newark (N.J.) Archives Project (NAP) was first envisioned by the Newark History Society in 2005, and the first steps were taken in 2006, when a mini-grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission funded the creation of a prospectus, defining the scope, requirements, and potential of the project. The prospectus was written by Consulting Archivist Mimi Bowling, who went on to become a consultant to the project. After several years devoted to fundraising and the negotiation of a cooperative agreement with our co-sponsor, Rutgers University-Newark, a two-year pilot phase of the project was launched in late 2010. The pilot project, again funded by our steadfast supporters at the NJ Historical Commission, allowed for the design and testing of our online database, the creation of survey guidelines, and onsite surveys at several of the most important archives located in the City of Newark. The project, now co-sponsored by the Newark History Society and the John Cotton Dana Library and the Price Institute for Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience, both at Rutgers University-Newark, has flourished over the years. Project Director is Dr. Gail Malmgreen, who was staff archivist and then Associate Head for Archival Collections at New York University’s Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives from 1990 to 2010. She has surveyed many collections, edited draft descriptions, and supervised the work of several NAP project assistants and interns, while assisting with fundraising and publicizing the project.

Mission of the Project.

The Newark Archives Project identifies and describes Newark-related archival materials, not only in Newark and Essex County, but throughout New Jersey and across the U.S. Only collections that are readily accessible to researchers are surveyed. Whenever possible the project examines original materials wherever they are held, but it also makes use of online finding-aids, inventories, and indexes, and searches digitized collections as well. The project's goal is to facilitate access to primary materials that are in many cases little-known or unknown to researchers. NAP provides a fully searchable online database of information on primary source materials (personal papers, organizational records, photographs, audio and film collections, maps, posters, and printed ephemera) relating to Newark and its complex and significant history. The user-friendly database, which generates detailed collection-level records compatible with MARC and Encoded Archival Description, was designed and customized for our use, and is now maintained, by the Technical Services staff of Rutgers University Libraries.

NAP serves a wide constituency of researchers that includes historians, government officials, genealogists, teachers, students from grade school to graduate school, urban planners and architects, exhibit curators, documentary filmmakers, and others. We have also directed prospective donors to appropriate recipients, advised repositories on current archival best practices, and alerted archives staff to materials in need of conservation.

Support for the Project

Our work is supported by grants from the New Jersey Historical Commission, the Prudential Insurance Company, PSE&G, Edison Properties Charitable Trust of Newark, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and a number of individual donors. Financial and in-kind support has also been provided by the Newark History Society and Rutgers University.


NAP's steadily growing database now includes descriptions of well over 4,000 archival collections from more than 200 repositories (listed on the Repository List page of this web site). The project's discoveries have been exciting. Hitherto un-catalogued collections at the New Jersey Historical Society included World War I letters, the papers of several African-American families, business records of Newark manufacturers and banks, and the records of two entertainment impresarios. At the City of Newark Archives, project staff found municipal records dating from 1790, records of slavery in Newark, and several collections of early photographs. The survey of the Newark Public Library has yielded Civil War letters, arts collections, and recently donated material on the politics of Black Power and urban renewal. Our search of archives across the country (hundreds in New York City, Washington, DC, California, the Midwest, and New England, and a small but growing number of archives abroad) has greatly expanded our vision of the significance and reach of Newark history. Digital collections have been a particularly rich source for material in LGBTQ history.

We are confident that NAP, in providing a unique online resource for the history of one city, has contributed, and will contribute, to the noticeable upsurge of interest and proliferation of publications, media productions, and exhibits on the rich history of Newark, from its founding in 1666 to the 21st century.

Illustration Credits/Captions:

Home Page: Souvenir Folder of Postcards, Cover. Donald Karp Postcard Collection, Newark Public Library.
Repository List Page: Reading Room, Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark. Photo by Gail Malmgreen.
Search the Collections Page: Family Photographs. William Hunter Maxwell Collection, New Jersey Historical Society.
Resources Page: Volumes of 19th-Century Municipal Records. City of Newark Archives and Records Management Center.
Project Overview Page: Tintypes, ca.1860s? Cyrus Durand Chapman Collection, Newark Public Library.
Contact Us Page: Letters sent by relatives in Ukraine to the Berg Family in Newark (1920s, in Yiddish). Samuel Berg Collection, Newark Public Library.