Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
New Jersey Documents Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1601-1983 (mostly 1750-1890)
4 boxes and 1.5 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-4


Westfield, New Jersey, was part of Elizabethtown from the time it was settled in late 1664 until 1794, when the Township of Westfield was created. The New Jersey Documents Collections, 1601 to 1983, consists of New Jersey legal documents, the bulk of which are from the town of Westfield, Union County, and include land records, financial records, estate records, and court records, many of which were created by various members of the Baker, Downer, Hetfield, Johnson, Miller, Pierson, Ripley, Ross, and Woodruff families. The majority of the collection material dates from 1750 to 1890.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The New Jersey Documents Collections, 1601 to 1983, consists of New Jersey legal documents, the bulk of which are from the town of Westfield, Union County, with the earliest documents showing Westfield as part of Essex County. In addition to Westfield, areas represented include Rahway and Plainfield in Union County; Woodbridge and Newark in Essex County; Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Somerset counties; New York City and Suffolk County in New York; Wabash County in Illinois; and Fairfield County in Connecticut. The majority of the collection material dates from 1750 to 1890 and contains deeds, indentures, and land surveys; financial records including accounts, promissory notes, and receipts; estate records including inventories and wills; Chancery, Pleas and N.J. Supreme Court records; and an arithmetic "cyphering" book. The names most frequently represented on these documents include various members of the Baker, Downer, Hetfield, Johnson, Miller, Pierson, Ripley, Ross, and Woodruff families, many of whom were connected to each other by marriage and business.

In 1839, the Reverend James Huntting, pastor of the Westfield Presbyterian Church, wrote that Westfield parish was settled about the year 1720. He listed these families among the early settlers: Acken, Badgley, Baker, Brooks, Bryant, Clark, Connet, Cory, Craig, Crane, Davis, Denman, Dunham, Frazee, Frost, Hendricks, Hetfield, High, Hinds (Haines), Hole, Jennings (Gennings), Lambert, Littell, Ludlum (Ludlow), Marsh, Meeker, Miller, Mills, Pierson, Robinson, Ross, Scudder, Spinnage (Spinning), Terry, Tucker, Willcox, Williams, Woodruff, and Yeomans. While not all of these family names are represented in the container list of the finding aid, it is important to note that almost all of them are represented within the collection.

The collection is arranged alphabetically by family name; followed by groups of records that are either unidentified or the family name appears only once in the collection. Deeds and indentures are sorted by the recipient of the land or loan; therefore, multiple families will appear in a single folder, even though they are not identified. For example, records of Pierson family members are represented most heavily in the Pierson family folders, but will also appear in the Baker, Ross, and Woodruff folders, in addition to the miscellaneous deeds and indentures folder, in which case they were the seller or loaner rather than the recipient of land.

Items of note include a brief of legal disbarment against Edward C. Ripley, divorce records for Eleanor and Cornelius Fleet circa 1793, estate inventories, and survey maps of the Westfield, New Jersey region. Also of note is the folder entitled "Miscellaneous Westfield and Union County Records," which includes a hand-drawn map of the railroad in the village of Westfield; lists of roads from Westfield; a list of proprietors of the Westfield Academy; and commitments to the Essex County Jail from Union County, containing name, crime committed, ethnicity, age, hometown, and sentence. Researchers interested in the history of Westfield, New Jersey and its early residents, legal records of early New Jersey, and the land transfers and evolution of property in Westfield will find this collection of great value.


Arranged alphabetically by name of family or individual name; followed by miscellaneous documents.

Collection History


The majority of the collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject. Some of the materials related to the Scudder family were a gift from the Estate of Richard B. Scudder, 2013.


No material was separated during 2012 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Holly Mengel in 2012. Finding aid written by Holly Mengel in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

New Jersey Documents Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-4