Local History & Genealogy
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The Trenton Free Public Library is home to Trentoniana, a unique local history and genealogy collection containing books, photographs, films, oral histories, scrapbooks, business records, personal papers, maps, newspapers, and ephemera that help researchers explore the rich history of the City of Trenton, New Jersey.
A portion of the collection consists of local newspapers (most on microfilm – see the Microfilm page for a list of titles) printed in Trenton from 1778 to the present. Several indexes to parts of the collection are available, with more finding aids being created and made available (see the Finding Aids page). We have also been reformatting and transcribing the Oral Histories in the collection, with many more to come.
College students work with the collection every semester and come up with great projects that can be found on the Student Projects page.
Internships are available throughout the year. More information is available here. Periodically, part-time Trentoniana Dept. positions become available. Check the Library’s Career Opportunities page for more information.
Besides all our social media outlets (links in the left-hand column), we also have a WordPress blog that is added to regularly to keep you updated on our various projects. Be sure to subscribe to get the latest posts!
The Trentoniana Department of the Trenton Free Public Library educates, enriches, and empowers the citizens of the City through the collection, preservation, and presentation of historical and cultural material significant to local history and the lives of its residents, both past and present.
As a special collection of the Library, Trentoniana furthers the Library’s educational and informational missions by making these resources available for research, inspiration, and enjoyment. The Trentoniana Department promotes the study and appreciation of regional and national history through educational programming, publications, special exhibits, and research services.
Through the pursuit of these objectives, the Library enriches the quality of life in Trenton by preserving and passing on knowledge of the City’s rich cultural diversity and heritage.
“We can only understand the present by continually referring to and studying the past; when any one of the intricate phenomena of our daily life puzzles us; when there arises religious problems, political problems, race problems, we must always remember that while their solution lies in the present, their cause and their explanation lie in the past.” – W.E.B. DuBois
The Trentoniana Department collects printed and non-printed material of all time periods (including present-day) relating to the City of Trenton, its residents, and to an extent the surrounding areas. This material includes paper and non-paper formats such as video, audio, and digital, as well as some art and artifacts. All subjects relating to Trenton are considered within its realm of collecting – it may be about or manufactured in the City, or be about or created by someone who lives or lived here. The Department also collects material on subjects that have relevance to Trenton history such as the American Revolution or the history of industry in New Jersey.
Historical materials must be understood within their historical context. Material received into the collection are accepted “as they are,” and some content may be considered by contemporary standards to be controversial or inflammatory. The Library does not condone the content or point of view contained within such material, but offers them in the spirit of intellectual freedom while acknowledging the continual evolution of our culture.
“The great task of libraries, worldwide, is the preservation of the ordinary” – from “Slow Fires,” a film on preservation.
Rules of Use
Material that is part of the Trentoniana Collection is for in-room use only and may not be checked out. Photocopying and scanning of manuscripts and photographs is at the discretion of the Archivist, and on a case-by-case basis. Copying the contents of entire collections or publications is not permitted due to copyright laws. No food or drink is allowed in the research room, and only pencils may be used. A coat rack and lockers are available for jackets and bags.
For those unable to come to Trenton, a form is available here for short research inquiries. For more in-depth inquiries, a research service through the Library Friends is available for an hourly fee.
PLEASE NOTE that the Trentoniana Department is currently open by advance appointment. Contact the Archivist at 609-392-7188 ext. 20 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trentoniana Room logo designed by Michael Chen from The College of New Jersey’s Interactive Multimedia Design Perspectives course, Fall 2016. Updated by Annabella D’Aversa, Fall 2022.