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Local History, Genealogy,
& Special Collections

Our Local History Collection, one of the largest in Union County, is composed of books, documents, photographs, blueprints, maps, newspapers, personal papers, and local organizations' records of significance in Plainfield and the surrounding communities. In addition to County and State histories, we have publications on the American Revolution and the Civil War. Our unique collections include Local Authors and Diversity Studies.

Local History Info


In Appreciation

The Local History Department is supported by funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State;
the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs; the Plainfield Foundation;
the Plainfield Cultural & Heritage Commission; the New Jersey Council for the Humanities; and the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library (FOPPL).



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artwork by Diego Licht

Do you live, work, or go to school in Plainfield? Contribute to the Library's COVID-19 Archive by helping us document life during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine.



View Collections Index

Our historical collections include Plainfield history, fine art, genealogy, diversity studies, oral history, personal papers & manuscripts, records of local organizations, Jerseyana, and United States history, as well as the original Library collection from the 1800’s. There is also an additional set of books on subjects that support our collections such as photography, art, architecture, and historic preservation.


Be sure to check out the Genealogy page!

The Local History, Genealogy and Special Collections
are held in closed stacks. Collection items do not circulate and may only be viewed in the Plainfield Room


Some publications may take a few seconds to download.

*(Adobe PDF file - download Adobe for viewing)




Help Support Us

Your financial donation can provide:

$10 to $25 Archival Document Cases and Cartons (various sizes)

Photograph Digitization

$30 Archival Photograph sleeves
$40 Archival Folders or Custom Boxes
$50 Archival Frame Kit or Book Purchase
$150 Archival Poster Frame Kit
$200 Purchase of an Historical Publication
$500 (towards) Historical document or ledger repair and conservation
$1,000 + (towards) Historical map repair conservation



Reproduction Fees

B&W Photocopies 25 cents per page
Color Photocopies 50 cents per page
Digital Scans See Below*
Computer Printouts 25 cents per page
Microfilm Printouts 25 cents per page
Blueprints $5 per page (11" x 17")
Blueprints on DVD $25 per disc*

Certain items are too fragile to be photocopied or scanned. In some cases, the items may be photographed by Library staff and the images printed or saved to CD for patron use. Please see forms below for details about our specific policies regarding visual materials and documents.

Patrons unable to come into the Library may pay online via PayPal. We can no longer accept personal checks. Contact the Local History Department at 908-757-1111 x136 for more information.

*Please refer to Reproduction Fee & Use Forms in the "For More Information" section on the right..





Haunted Transportation: Ghostly Sightings
via Air, Land & Sea

Saturday, October 24th
10:30 am via Zoom
Co-hosted with the Drake House Museum
Presented by the NJ Ghost Hunters Society

You thought security was a nightmare at the airport! Wait until you hear about the ghostly results of Eastern Airlines flight 401 and phantom planes from Wales to Ohio to Pennsylvania.

Prefer rail travel? Think twice! From Gettysburg, PA to Pattenburg, NJ; there are tragic events that still travel along these forgotten rail lines.

Long before Princess Cruises, the "Gray Ghost" floated on the ocean waters. Today the Queen Mary is docked in Long Beach, California along with her ghostly passengers. All along the American seaboard lovely lighthouses dot the landscape providing the guiding light to ships in the night and foggy air. However, some lighthouse keepers aren't corporeal, but are still at work keeping the light lit!

This program is co-hosted by the Historical Society of Plainfield / Drake House Museum.

This is a FREE program. REGISTER HERE.

Sojourner Truth
Portrayed by Dr. Daisy Century

Saturday, November 7th

10:30 am via Zoom
Presented by The American Historical Theater Company
Co-hosted with the Historical Society of Plainfield /
Drake House Museum

Dr. Daisy Century gives a commanding performance of Ms. Truth, bringing to life a woman undeterred by incredible obstacles, a woman who mixed with the leading figures of her day, including Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Audience members are urged to consider the twin goals of racial and gender parity of equal importance.

This program is funded in part by a Union County HEART (History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands) Grant from the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

This is a FREE program. REGISTER HERE


Saturdays at 10:30 am on Zoom

November 21st
Remembering Plainfield WWI Soldiers
Presented by Nancy Piwowar & Historical Society of Plainfield
Co-hosted with the Drake House Museum

December 5th
Choosing a DNA Test for Family History Research
Presented by American Ancestors & New England Historic Genealogical Society


Memoir Writing Club

Next meeting: November 12th at 10:30 am via Zoom

Library Genealogy Club

Next meeting: December 5th at 10:30 am via Zoom


Digital Archive & Indexes
Search Image Collections


Our digital image collections are constantly growing, and are composed of over 55,000 photographs, postcards, and blueprints. All of these records are viewable online. In addition, patrons can now access Plainfield's historical city directories and the Plainfield's early newspapers online for free. Some of our special digital projects include:

rule For More Information

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