Table of Contents

Descriptive Summary

Administrative Information

Biographical Notes

Scope & Content Note

Series Arrangement & Description

Index Terms

Related Items

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Container Listing

Plainfield Public Library

Plainfield Families,1830-1988.

Gilman Family portrait, 1916.

Finding aid written and encoded by Sarah Hull in November 2010;
processed in 2010 by Sarah Hull.

Processing of this collection was made possible through
a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Plainfield Families, 1830-1988.
Creator: Various
Size: 2 linear feet of records
Comprised of 2 boxes:
One (1) 10”x15”x5” archival storage box
One oversized
Repository: Plainfield Public Library, Local History Department, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
Abstract: The Plainfield Families collection documents several families who resided in Plainfield during the 19th and 20th centuries. Dates span from 1830 to 1988, with bulk dates from 1900 to 1946. Record types include: manuscripts, speeches, letters and postcards, journals, report cards, certificates and diplomas, deeds, ephemera, clippings, and photographs.
Language: The records are in English.

Administrative Information
Access & Restrictions

The Plainfield Families collection is available for research.

Access is restricted to materials prepared by the Local History department staff. All materials must be viewed in the Plainfield Room and may not be removed to another area of the library without permission of the Library Director or designee. Materials must be handled carefully and kept in order. Materials must not be leaned upon, altered, folded, ripped, or traced upon. Marks may not be added or erased from materials. Materials must be returned directly to Local History department staff and inspected before the researcher leaves the Plainfield Room.

One photocopy may be made (by Plainfield Public Library staff) of each document for the purpose of research; official Local History departmental reproduction fees may apply. Permission to publish must be obtained by the Plainfield Public Library Board of Trustees as delegated to the Library Director. Permission to publish does not constitute a copyright clearance. The researcher is responsible for further copyright restrictions. The Plainfield Public Library is not responsible for the misuse of copyrighted material.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item; Date (if noted); "Plainfield Families,” Series, Box and Folder Number; Local History Department, Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield, New Jersey.

Acquisition Information

Portions of the collection were donated in 2007 by John Grady.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sarah Hull in 2010. The finding aid was written and encoded by Sarah Hull in November 2010. Finding aid content follows the guidelines suggested by Describing Archives: A Content Standard. The processing of this collection was made possible through a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

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Biographical Notes

We do not have biographical information for all of the families contained within this collection.

J. Herbert Case
James Herbert Case was born in Plainfield in 1906. He was a board member of the Plainfield Public Library,
and resigned in 1926. He died in New York in 1965.

Frederic W. Cook
Frederic W. Cook was the Superintendent of the Plainfield Schools until his death in 1944. He was active with many civic and welfare organizations in Plainfield, and was also a member of the Plainfield Public Library board of trustees.

Alexander Dickson family
Local Plainfield family. Alexander Dickson (Alex S.) owned Netherwood Garage, which was located at 1001 South Avenue. The family also resided at that address. He and his wife, Marie, had a daughter, Sophia (Sophie) Tarvers, and son, Alex Donald. In 1938, Sophia was an assistant physical director at the YWCA, and was later employed as the supervisor of physical education for the Plainfield School System. She eventually became a teacher and resided at 905 Sterling Street with her mother, brother Alex and his wife Elinor (they later moved out of Plainfield). Alex S. died sometime around 1956. Sophia retired in the 1970s.

Alexander Gilbert
Alexander Gilbert was Mayor of Plainfield from 1891 to 1896. He also worked as a New York City banker and president of the New York Clearing House. He resided at 318 West 8th Street.

Charles Gilman family
Charles Gilman was a civil engineer and pioneer of reinforced concrete. Among many activities and board seats, he was a member of the Plainfield Board of Appeals in 1938. Charles married twice; his first wife died in 1934. In 1935, he married his second wife, Marion Smith Carter of Westfield.  He was with Massey Concrete Products for 45 years, and an Elder in the Crescent Avenue Church in Plainfield.

Roger Gilman, also an engineer, was a director of the New York Port Authority in 1957.

Karl Gilman was a Navy Seaman; Third Assistant Engineer on the Flying Clipper.

Bernard and Ruth MacDonald family
Local Plainfield family. There is no biographical information available about this family. Bernard and Ruth were brother and sister.

Augustus L. C. Marsh (1865-1942) family
Augustus Marsh was an architect and designer of many of Plainfield's public buildings. He was a noted bicyclist in his youth. He resided in Plainfield with his wife Grace E. and their daughter Molly. His parents were Richard and Anna Robinson Marsh.

Mary E. Roth family
Mary E. Roth was a teacher and principal at the Eleanor G. Hewitt School for 44 years. She was the daughter of Martin and Mary Zimmer Roth, and the aunt of Eleanor Zweifel. Raymond Roth was a painter. Martin was a shoemaker in Plainfield at 120 Exchange Alley. Mary was survived by her brother, G. Fred Roth.

Arthur E. and Grace Emmons Smith family
Arthur E. Smith, Sr. was married to Grace L. Emmons in 1905; she died in 1969. She was a member of Trinity Reformed Church and Fellowship Circle of Kings Daughters, among other associations. She organized the first auxiliary of Boy Scouts at Monroe Methodist Church in Plainfield. She was survived by two sons: Arthur E. Jr. of Long Island, and Robert E. of Plainfield, and a daughter, Mrs. William O. Grant of St. Petersburg. Maria Louise Brown Emmons Smith, daughter of Arthur Smith, Jr. and Jane Foster. William C. Smith was a Civil War veteran.

Mason Whiting Tyler family
Mason Whiting Tyler was born in Massachusetts in 1840. In 1869, he married Miss Eliza M. Schroeder. The couple had two sons: William Seymour and Cornelius Boardman. The family moved to Plainfield in 1871, where Tyler maintained a personal library collection of rare and valuable works. He resided at 525 West Seventh Street. During his lifetime, he was involved with many civic organizations including two terms on the Plainfield Common Council. He was a co-founder and Vice President of the board of directors of the Plainfield Public Library, and one of the first trustees of Muhlenberg Hospital. Colonel Tyler died on July 2, 1907, just nine months after his beloved wife. He bequeathed $10,000 to the Library with the stipulation that the investment income be used for the purchase of books chosen by the Library Board. Honoring a personal interest of Tyler’s, the Board selected books that dealt with United States history and Americana – many of which remain in the collection today.

William Van Norden family
Local Plainfield family who resided on Lyman Place. William (Sr.) was a physician; his wife Agnes M. was a teacher. They had three children, Frederick, Marguerite and William Jr.

Otis Whitford family
Otis Whitford was a dentist and married to Mabel; they lived on Evergreen Avenue. Otis was also involved with the YMCA They also resided at 318 E 6th for a time.

Albert Whitford was president of Plainfield Grocery & Supply. He was married to Ella Whitford. They lived on Lenox Avenue with Lucy Whitford. Lucy Whitford was a school nurse and Paul A. Whitford was a clerk.

Ernest C. Whitford was secretary of Plainfield Grocery & Supply; he lived on East 6th Street with Myron Whitford, a salesman.

Henry J. Zweifel family
Henry J. Zweifel worked at PSE&G. as a Collector and book keeper (according to the 1935 Plainfield City Directory).

Eleanor R. Zweifel worked as a Clerk at TSN Bank in Plainfield, but resided in Scotch Plains (According to the 1962 PCD).

Miss Florence Zweifel, twin sister of Eleanor, was a clerk at the Plainfield Trust Company, and formerly with Permaseal Products. She graduated from PHS and Drake Business College.


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Scope and Content Note

The Plainfield Families collection includes a variety of record types and span from 1873 to 1988, with bulk dates of 1900 to 1946. The collection is composed of manuscripts, speeches, letters and postcards, journals, report cards, certificates and diplomas, deeds, ephemera, newspaper clippings, and photographs. Certificates include those for births, baptisms, and marriages. Education records include reports cards and diplomas. There is a family tree for the Emmons (Smith) family. There are also a large number of loose photographs and negatives.

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Arrangement and Description

The Plainfield Families collection is arranged by surname into 14 series. New series will be added as items are donated to the collection; these items will not be in alphabetical order. Each series is contained in one folder unless otherwise noted.

Series 1: Herbert J. Case, 1926.
Series 2: Frederic W. Cook, 1944, undated.
Series 3: Dickson family, 1920-1988.
Series 4: Alexander Gilbert, 1907.
Series 5: Gilman family, 1904-1980 (3 folders).
Series 6: MacDonald family, 1932.
Series 8: Marsh family, 1905.
Series 9:
Roth family, 1900, undated.
Series 10:
Smith family, 1905-1980.
Series 11:
Tyler family, 1830-1946 (6 folders).
Series 12:
Van Norden family, 1890-1929 (2 folders)
Series 13:
Whitford family, 1922-1946 (2 folders)
Series 14:
Zweifel family, 1929-1954.

See Container List below for itemized detail.

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Index Terms


Case, J. Herbert
Cook, Frederic W. 1886-1944.
Dickson, Alexander Donald
Dickson, Sophia Travers
Emmons, Grace (Smith family relative)
Gilbert, Alexander
Gilman, Charles
Gilman, Roger
MacDonald, Bernard
MacDonald, Ruth
Marsh, Augustus L. C.
Roth, Mary Eleanor
Smith Arthur E.
Smith, Robert Emmons
Smith, William C., Sr.
Tyler, Col. Mason
Tyler, Eliza M.
Van Norden, Agnes M.
Van Norden, Frederick C.
Van Norden, Marguerite
Van Norden, William E. Jr.
Van Norden, William E. Sr.
Whitford, Albert
Whitford, Ernest
Whitford, Otis T.
Zweifel, Eleanor
Zweifel, Florence
Zweifel, Henry
Zweifel, Marguerite


Muhlenberg Hospital
Plainfield Public
High School
Plainfield Public Library
Woodhull and Martin
Wood Brook Farms


Plainfield (N. J.)


Manuscripts, American--New Jersey--Plainfield
Plainfield (N. J.)--History

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Related Items

Biographical sketch of Dea. Timothy Boardman, 1885.
GEN 929.2 BOA [folder 23]


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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper documents and photographs that do not require any additional technology for access.

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Container Listing

** = oversized items housed separately.


Personal / Family Name




Case, J. Herbert

PPL Board Book (illuminated)



Cook, Frederic W. (1886-1944)

  • Augustus Nasmith, Jr.

Tribute items (speeches and ephemera),
1 clipping (obit), 1 publication (The Plainfields),
4 photographs.

1944, n.d.


Dickson, Sophia Tarvers

  • Alexander Donald Dickson (1932)

Photocopy (father’s car & chauffeur), ephemera, typed poem, grammar school diploma (larger item in back of this box)



Gilbert, Alexander

Commemorative dinner booklet



Gilman, Charles

  • Roger Gilman

Photographs and negatives



Gilman Family continued




Gilman Family continued

Letters and clippings



MacDonald, Bernard and Ruth

Jefferson School Nature Club certificates



Marsh, A.L.C.

Woodhull and Martin affidavit, July 11, 1905



Roth, Mary Eleanor**

Clippings, birth certificate, baptism certificate**

1900, n.d.


Smith, Arthur E.**

  • Robert Emmons Smith
  • William C. Smith, Sr.
  • Grace Emmons

Letters, photographs, ephemera, clippings, baby journal, PHS report cards,
Muhlenberg letter and photographs, marriage certificate**, Emmons family tree**



Tyler, Col. Mason

Library and Community Council memorial books. (cage items)



Tyler, Col. Mason

Board will executor booklet, ancestral tablet- blank. (cage items)



Tyler , Eliza M.

Deed – southeast side of Seventh Street



Tyler Family

Deed – Margaret P. Main



Tyler Family**

Deeds and bonds, Stelle Avenue map**



Tyler - Wood Brook Farms

Wood Brook Farms deeds and records



Van Norden, William E., Sr.

  • Marguerite
  • William E., Jr.
  • Frederick
  • Agnes

Remembrance card, 1890. ephemera, clippings, (Hershey candy wrapper), postcard of Babcock Building’s “Ritz table for High School students,”  PHS graduation certificate, English class notebook, Jekyll and Hyde character part - handwritten

1890 -1929


Van Norden (continued)

 “The Mystical Journal” handwritten story by child. Van Norden children in costume for “Queen Esther” play, 1901 PHOTO



Whitford, Otis T.

  • Albert Whitford
  • Ernest Whitford

Ephemera, telegram, clippings, photographs

1922-1946, n.d.


Whitford, Otis T.

Typed tributes to him and clippings, 1942




  • Florence
  • Henry
  • Marguerite
  • Eleanor

Remembrance cards (various family members), clipped obits, baptism and confirmation certificates, 8th grade diploma, PHS diploma (cased), 1943.


22 Smith - addenda certificate  
23 Tyler - addenda Biography of Timothy Boardman Tyler
GEN 929.2 BOA


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