Our Oldest Known Document

Home Page


A 1653 financial account of Swedish settler Jon Nielson. Signed by Governor Johan Printz, this is oldest known document in the Delaware Public Archives

Our Oldest Known Document

In 1637, the New Sweden Company was chartered with mostly Dutch investors. Dutch and Swedish settlers established Fort Christina, site of Wilmington, in 1638. The Swedes gained control of the New Sweden Company by 1641, granted land and by 1647 had an established colony. In 1651, the main Dutch settlement was moved to present day New Castle, called Fort Casimir. Two years later, the New Sweden Company took control of Fort Casimir only to lose it the following year with Fort Christina to the Dutch.

This document is located in the Jon Nielson Papers which are part of the Colonial Records Collection. This collection includes land grants by the Duke of York, records of the period, settlement activities, proprietary papers of the Penn family, patents, charter documents and communication and financial records of the Port of New Amsterdam.