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Date Posted: Friday, October 17th, 2014

This blog is part of a special behind the scenes series for Archives Month.

Tom Summers, Outreach Manager

Archivist Margaret Dunham with a very long Orphans Court document.
Archivist Margaret Dunham with a very long Orphans Court document.


Recently, processing and reference archivist Margaret Dunham uncovered a document in the Kent County Orphans Court Case Files Collection that measured almost 26 feet in length. The file, from the year 1822, focuses on a section of property in Murderkill Hundred (located south of Dover) owned by Ezekial Hunn.

According to Ms. Dunham, “these Orphans Court materials are a great resource for historians and genealogists alike. Many times these files, including this one, contain maps with houses and other landmarks that can provide clues and details to what was located on the property. This document is actually a series of documents held together with wax seals. In order to effectively preserve these extremely long files, we have to cut the documents to make them fit into the storage boxes that we have.”

When possible, we try to use humidification techniques to make the adhesive and wax more pliable. This allows us to pull the documents apart where they are affixed and helps us safely remove the wax or adhesive, preventing further damage. It’s not always possible to do this, so we have to cut some documents to facilitate proper storage in our vaults. Come by the Delaware Public Archives to see this document (and many more like it!) for yourself.

Do you want to know more about what happens behind-the-scenes at the Delaware Public Archives? Send us your questions and we may feature them here for Archives Month.

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