Seeking the "Bordentown Register" 1852-1854

Gordon Bond's picture

I am trying to find The Bordentown Register newspaper from 1852 through 1854. It started in 1851, but all I have been able to find so far (online and as microfilm) starts with 1855.

Does anyone know if there are any extant copies from the period out there? I know most libraries and archives are closed or have limited access due to Covid, but I have an arrangement that would allow for interlibrary loan.


Gordon Bond

Categories: Query

If you have not already consulted Wright and Stellhorn's New Jersey newspaper directory (from the 1970s), it is online: They seem to have inventoried a lot of historical societies, etc, to identify both long runs and random issues.

Check out:
It seems only fragmentary holdings exist...

History of the newspaper:

The first name of this newspaper was The Bordentown Palladium which was founded in 1845 as a weekly community paper serving the Bordentown City, Burlington County, New Jersey, an area six miles south of Trenton. The newspaper was renamed twice during its publication life. First name change was to The Bordentown Register in 1851 and then it was renamed again in 1966 to the Register-News. Over its 170 years of publication, the newspaper has chronicled the history of the greater Bordentown region, including Bordentown City and Township and the surrounding towns of Fieldsboro, Florence, Roebling, Columbus, Crosswicks, Chesterfield, Mansfield. Also included was news of the border towns of Allentown, Robbinsville and Yardville in Mercer County.

Content and scope of index:

This index includes 47,342 citations to birth and marriage announcements, obituaries and death notices, legislative news, judicial announcements, politics, business and social concerns of the area. There is some indexing of local sports teams and of the local school districts (Bordentown, Northern Burlington, etc.), including Bordentown Military Institute, the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School, and other schools. Of special note is the inclusion of news of hometown soldiers in the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Wars and subsequent military actions.

The Bordentown Register and Register-News issues are available on microfilm from May 25, 1855 to December 31, 2009. The microfilm is available at the Burlington County Library in Westampton. In addition, the Bordentown Branch Library holds copies of the newspaper on microfilm from 1855-2009 and hardcopy issues from 2009-September 2015. Research and photocopies will be done upon request for a fee. Please contact BCLS Reference staff for more information. The Bordentown Branch Library staff and volunteers continue to add information to the index on a regular basis. In the past, generous funding for the preservation microfilming of this newspaper was provided by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Thank you. Unfortunately, it would appear neither source identifies any extant issues from the years I require...

Let me back up at explain why I need 1852-1854 specifically and perhaps someone might suggest a different approach.

I am working on a book about Rev. Hannibal Goodwin, who invented flexible roll film while at the Episcopal House of Prayer in Newark. This invention not only revolutionized photography, but made cinema possible.

In the course of researching his career up to that time, one of his first parishes was Christ Church in Bordentown between 1842 and 1854. The vestry minutes mention he had made a statement to them regarding the then-current controversies with the public school there, and identifying him as the superintendent. Why this is significant is the only public school was that started by Clara Barton. At the time, there was a movement to have a man brought in from the outside and installed as the principal. Her supporters thought she should have the position since she created the school. Principal, however, was not considered a proper job for a woman. She was indeed replaced and left teaching altogether, going on to found the Red Cross.

There is a belief in the church that he was very supportive of Barton. However, there is no record of what his statement was to the vestry and I have been unable to find any confirmation that he was involved with the school, or a superintendent. Indeed, there are no mentions I can find of the controversy in any newspaper I have access to online. This was probably a very local affair and I was guessing would have been covered in the town's newspaper, if not elsewhere. This is why I need those years specifically.

Were it not for that mention in the vestry minutes, there would appear to be no other surviving mentions of his association with Barton or her school!

Have you tried searches on and Genealogybank reports 531 hits using the search term "Hannibal Goodwin" and Newspapers reports 1,279 hits. While the Bordentown newspaper may not survive for the years you seek, that doesn't mean that other papers didn't pick up its various notices.

Thank you for the further suggestions, however, I am already aware of them and have either already gone through them, or, in the case of the NJHS, are making arrangements to review them in order to observe the necessary Covid protocols. The NHS materials postdate the Bordentown period and seem to be primarily correspondence between Goodwin and his lawyer regarding the Eastman Kodak suits.

I have had one possible breakthrough, however, with the Burlington County Library. There were several later articles about Clara Barton's life and career in the 'Bordentown Register' between the 1890s and 1930s. Paula Manzella has been kind enough to send someone to check if Goodwin was mentioned in any of these and will get back to me later this week.

This experience has underscored the valuable service of librarians!

Found info on the Bordentown Historical Society about the school, relating that: "They spent the first few days cleaning up the school house and getting it ready for children. She started the program in 1852 with six children and very little else, by 1853 there were over 600 children in the program, receiving lessons from teachers housed in locations all over the city. A bout of laryngitis kept her from her classroom for several months, in the interim the school committee appointed a man as principal of the new program Clara created."
"Dissatisfied with this outcome, upon her recovery Clara decided to move on and took a position at the US Patent office in Washington DC."
and this sligtly different info:
":Barton convinced the editor of the local newspaper to put up funding for the one-room schoolhouse.
After opening with six students in May, the school ended the year with 600 students, a second teacher and a second location. By 1854, the school had a second building with two stories and eight rooms.
But after Barton missed several months with laryngitis, city officials passed on her for the position of principal, choosing a man instead.
Barton left for Washington, D.C., a job as the first female employee in the U.S. Patent Office..."

A society newsletter has:
Clara Barton Schoolhouse
In 1852 Clara Barton received the approval from the Bordentown school committee to open a free public school where she taught for 2 years.The school was so successful, the town decided to build a new brick school which was opened in 1853.

The National Register Nomination for the Bordentown Historic District relates:
"Consequently she persuaded the town authorities to establish a completely free school and to make her principal. The authorities agreed, and in 1852 she took over a one room brick school house which had been built about 1839.
Owing in large measure to Barton's enthusiasm and dynamism as a teacher, the new free public school was almost an instantaneous success. In 1854 the school had to be moved to larger quarters to accommodate the increasing number of students. "

Another source however states: "The gravest blow of all, however, was the discovery that the school was to be headed by an outsider named J. Kirby Burnham. It was Barton's sex, not her skills, to which the town objected."
This appears to occur after the Fall of 1853 and before May 1854.

Hi Gordon,

This may possibly be helpful: Clara Barton lived with the Wycoff Norton family in East Windsor, NJ from from October, 1851, to May, 1852, while teaching in Hightstown. She left their farm that May to start her Bordentown teaching position. Clara stayed friends with Mary and Charles Norton for most of her life (she and Mary kept up regular correspondence for many years, and Mary was one of the four charter members of the American Red Cross when Barton introduced the organization in 1881.) I haven't looked through the files, but there are a number of Norton family communications in the Clara Barton papers online at the Library of Congress

Also, someone at the Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society may be able to direct you to resources related to Clara Barton and Mary Norton communications - or perhaps Mary Norton diaries/papers -- from the early years of their friendship (which correspond to the years you are researching.)

Tricia Fagan

Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society does have some Clara Barton-related material.
Gordon: contact me directly, at
Bob Craig

Thank you for the further information and suggestions.

Hi Alicia - Thank you. I already knew much of that, though. There was a local controversy over the installation of Burnham, as those sources concur. What was not mentioned, however, was an apparent involvement of Rev. Goodwin. The one concrete piece of evidence of his role comes from the Christ Church vestry minutes for January 17, 1854:

"The Rector made a statement relative to his connection with the agitation in regard to the Public School, now prevailing in the vicinity, he being (at present) the Superintendent of said School."

Unfortunately, they did not include what that statement was! However, they identify him as a superintendent, so this was more than just a passing interest in town business. There is a tradition at Christ Church that he was supportive of Barton, but without further evidence, I can't say what his role was for sure. Considering he always showed a penchant for educating youth - his invention of film came from trying to make unbreakable lantern slides for his Sunday School classes - this seems like an important thing to dig into aside from the connection with a well-known figure like Barton.

Hi Tricia - Thank you, I will be searching those this weekend!

Hi Bob - I will contact you shortly.


Just to follow up, I went through the Library of Congress materials but did not find anything relevant to a Goodwin connection...