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PRIVATE ACCOUNTS COLLECTION

The Delaware Public Archives has among its holdings a collection of volumes relating to the commerical activities of private individuals and businesses throughout the state from c. 1725 to the mid 20th century.

The Private Accounts Collection has grown through the generous donations of patrons and continued accessions of state and local records, primarily those of the courts, where the items were originally collected as case exhibits. The account volumes document a wide variety of occupations including farming, flour milling, tanning, shingle making, domestic housekeeping, and shoe making, as well as activities of such professionals as lawyers, doctors, and merchants. Among the most notable records, for example, are lists of subscribers to a whaling voyage, 1841-1844; the journal of a cruise on the naval ship U.S.S. Ontario, 1833-1834; as well as the records of the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Hospital, 1884-1896.

The Private Accounts Collection is arranged into four sub-groups: New Castle County; Sussex County; Kent County; and a General Section which contains unidentified volumes. The artificial nature of the collection has necessitated the creation of any index listing to facilitate access to the collection. Four elements included are: volume number; name identifier; span dates; and occupation/subject. Each volume is assigned a number at the time of its placement in the collection. This number is used for retrieval purposes. Where more than one volume is attributed to the same individual/individuals or organization the same volume number is retained and decimal numbering is utilized to distinguish separate volumes. The name element contains the last name of the individual/individuals or the proper name of the organization. Span dates are the earliest and latest dates mentioned in a volume. Where there is more than one volume in a series the earliest and latest dates of the series are used. The occupation/subject represents the trade or profession, if known, or the type of record being kept. The Collection is on film and is added to on a regular basis. Access to the collection is by the roll number noted on the finding aid list. (Checklist is available on the computer) The beginning of each roll has a listing of the volumes contained on that roll.

Some private accounts not found here were loaned for microfilming and the orginals returned to owners. These film copies are found in the Reference Reel Collection. The ‘Private Accounts’ provide an important perspective for the study of historic events, soical changes, and economic trends in Delaware.

bhh; September 12, 1988; January 5, 1989