Serving up Tradition

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100th Anniversary
As part of Georgetown’s Return Day during the 1950s, Jim Walls serves platters at the traditional ox roast.

Serving Up Tradition


Return Day in Georgetown draws thousands of people as winning and losing candidates of both parties join in celebration on the Thursday following the general election. The exact origin of this event is unknown. When all voting took place at the county courthouse, interested parties may have stayed to hear the results and celebrated the good fortune of the victors. In 1811, voting districts were created and a Board of Canvass was required to meet on Thursday to determine the returns for the county. By the mid -19th century, Return Day was well established and is recognized as the only event of its kind in the nation.

The Purnell Collection of photographs contains representations of a wide range of subjects and time periods that give an excellent view of Sussex County life. There are also some photos from Kent and New Castle Counties. The collection is divided into divided into three categories: places, with street scenes, businesses, buildings and transportation; portraits and subjects.