Oysters Everywhere!

Previous Page Home Page Next Page


A full oyster dredge is hauled aboard a Delaware Bay oyster schooner on April 29, 1924. Oystering was an important Delaware industry until a parasitic disease decimated the population in the late 1950s.

Oysters Everywhere

Oystering has always been a major industry in Delaware, but hit its height after the Civil War until the 1950s when a major disease practically wiped out the industry. Another disease hit in the 1980s that finished oystering as it had been known. The traditional method was tonging, using two wooden polls to lift oysters from their beds. In the 20th century dredging was more commonly used where large toothed baskets were dragged across the beds. After World War II, power dredging was introduced and seriously depleted the oyster seed beds.
The State Board of Agriculture was also involved with promoting the economic development of Delaware. From 1922 to 1938, photographs were taken to use in promotional publications. Not only does the collection include agriculture related photos, but a variety of subjects from bridges to town scenes and recreation. The Dover area is especially well represented. Many of these photographs pertain to the poultry and fruit industries.