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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



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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)




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).


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$500 (towards) Historical document or ledger repair and conservation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



Hidden History Stories of Early
Local African Americans

Saturday, September 26th
10:30 to 11:30 am via Zoom

Join Nancy A. Piwowar, President of the Historical Society of Plainfield, for this special presentation. Nancy's lecture includes local stories of African Americans who were part of the fabric of America and whose stories were left out of history books. Caesar, a freed slave who served as a teamster in the Revolutionary War; Simon, a slave who played a role in a spy plan in the Revolutionary War; Samuel Sutphin, a slave and Revolutionary War soldier; Robert Aaron, a free African American, a beekeeper and one of the earliest  African-American men who voted in New Jersey; Ambo, a female slave who worked in the Terrill Tavern during the Revolutionary War; Dinah, a cook at the old Laing Hotel; and a slave whose name is unknown and who played a pivotal role in Washington’s crossing of the Delaware.  This lecture also includes the efforts and sources for finding local hidden history stories.

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


Perfect Together: Facebook & Genealogy
Saturday, October 3rd
10:30 am via Zoom

Over the decades, genealogists have communicated with fellow researchers using whatever tools were available, from newsletter queries to online message boards. Enter the 21st century and 'social media'! Learn tips and techniques to use the newest genealogical tool -- Facebook -- from document translations to research questions to connecting with family. Michelle will show you how to effectively use Facebook for your genealogical research without getting lost in your newsfeed or overrun by notifications. You will learn about joining Groups and following Pages for your areas of interest, whether it is a specific ethnicity or a geographic area, and learn tips for managing your level of interaction.


When Women Lost the Vote:
A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807

Saturday, October 17th
10:30 am via Zoom

Millions of American women were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which marks its centennial in 2020. But more than a century earlier, women and free people of color legally held the vote in New Jersey for more than thirty years.

Join a Museum Educator for an exciting look at the Museum’s newest exhibition, When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807. Learn the little-known history of the nation’s first women voters and get a virtual peek at artifacts that tell their stories. This experience also includes a Q&A session.

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

This is a FREE program. Email us to register.



Memoir Writing Club

Next meeting: October 8th at 10:30 am via Zoom

Library Genealogy Club

Next meeting: October 3rd 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


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..

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