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Out of Delaware’s largely agrarian culture arose the need for some kind of regulatory control over the manufacturers, suppliers, and content of the fertilizer sold in Delaware. To fill this void, the General Assembly in 1871 created the position of State Chemist. The chair of the Chemistry Department at Delaware College (later the University of Delaware) was ex officio State Chemist. Initially, his duties were to regulate fertilizer manufacturers and suppliers as well as perform chemical analysis of random samples of the fertilizer to ensure uniform quality.1

In subsequent years the Legislature broadened the scope of the State Chemist’s analysis to include kerosene, headlight and other illuminating oils;2 foods; dairy and other feeds; and insecticides.3 In 1909, the chemist was also charged with maintaining standards of weights and measures to be utilized throughout the state.4

Legislative appointment of the State Chemist ended in 1917, when the State Board of Agriculture was given the authority to appoint all future State Chemists.5 Ten years later, the State Board assumed most of the regulatory responsibilities, allowing the State Chemist to concentrate exclusively on substance analysis.6

In the sweeping state government reorganization of 1970, the State Chemist’s parent agency, the State Board of Agriculture, was renamed the Department of Agriculture.7 All functions and responsibilities continued intact.

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1 14 DL, ch. 35.

2 24 DL, ch. 161.

3 30 DL, ch. 51.

4 25 DL, ch. 63.

5 29 DL, ch. 48.

6 35 DL, ch. 49.

7 57 DL, ch. 764.

jf/January 27, 1988; January 28, 1988