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Collections from our vast archives, available online, as well as links to resources to assist researchers, students, educators and citizens. Some of these links will open external websites such as ContentDM or Flickr.



Document Collections


Abram Draper Personal Correspondence: The Abram H. Draper Collection consists of 34 pieces of correspondence, including letters and poetry from Sergeant Abram H. Draper to his wife Anna M. Wiley Draper during the American Civil War.

Clara Dashiell Collection: Primarily a collection of ephemera, this collection includes invitations to the 1876 West Point Independence Day celebration and hop, dinner at New Mansion, a grand ball given by the Citizens of Dover, a Georgetown social hop, and a series of hops hosted at the State Fair at Dover through the State Board of Agriculture.

Coroner’s Report: A record of a county coroner’s investigations into the manner and cause of a death where a person died under circumstances that were violent, unnatural, or unknown. 

Delaware Constitutions: Delaware constitutions created by the Delaware Constitutional Conventions in 1792, 1831, and 1897. The 1897 Constitution is the current governing document for Delaware.

Delaware Turnpike Scrapbooks: The scrapbooks consist of newspaper clippings and photographs that document Delaware Turnpike activities and events. Notable subjects include the construction of the highway, President John F. Kennedy’s participation in the dedication ceremony, maps, Turnpike appointments, tolls, Mason and Dixon boundary marker, JFK memorial wreath and services, accidents, Hot Shoppes service plaza, effects on Route 40 businesses, Turnpike officials and employees, I-95 construction completion, public safety, and Turnpike expansion. The Scrapbooks were compiled by Turnpike staff.

George and Irene Caley Postcard Collection: George Luther Caley was a well-known genealogist, author, local historian, and avid postcard collector. This is one of our most popular collections. 

Insurance Evaluation Reports: A comprehensive list of state owned buildings in 1941. The reports were created to serve as a guide in determining the amount of insurance to be carried.

Legislative Papers: Explore the General Assembly, Legislative Papers Collection, digitized with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The collection consists of manuscript records reflecting the functions and activities of the General Assembly between 1724 and 1913.

Naturalizations, Kent County: Original records of those wishing to become naturalized citizens of the United States.

Naturalizations, New Castle County: New Castle County Naturalizations Original petitions and other legal documents of immigrants wishing to become American citizens. The date listed in the title reflects the year of the file and may vary from the document displayed. The file for each individual may contain more documentation.

Register of Births and Deaths in the Almshouse, Kent County: Spanning 1851 to 1901, this register lists the names of those born and those who died in the Kent County Almshouse. Birth entries name the newborn, mother, and the newborn’s date of birth. Death entries are arranged by gender, race, and place of residence and note the date of death, age, and occasionally a remark about the cause of death.

Revolutionary War Oaths of Allegiance: Oaths of Allegiance or declarations of fidelity were sworn to the new nation or to the State of Delaware as required by state legislation in 1778. Shown on these documents are the oath taken, name of person sworn before, date of swearing, and signature of person taking the oath. Included are the oaths of New Jersey residents administered by Caesar Rodney at Trenton (Feb. 1777) and a transcript of the legislation requiring the oaths.

Pamphlet Collection – Legislative Rosters: Annual rosters created by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce that provides names and addresses of the Delaware General Assembly, the Congressional delegation, and state and local government leaders. Also included are introductions to State Chamber lobbyists, listings of Senate and House committees and their members, district maps, and voter registration information. Rosters are typically updated every other year following elections. Legislative Rosters are a part of the Delaware Public Archives Pamphlet Collection.

Pauper Books, Kent County: The Kent County Paupers Books are registers of the sick and poor inmates of the county almshouse, 1811 to 1933. Most of the books were done annually and arranged by hundred or district. For each hundred there are separate lists by gender and race. The Pauper Books include the name of the inmate, dates admitted and discharged, age, sex, race, disease or reason for admission, date of death, and birth date for infants born in the almshouse.

Peninsular News and Advertiser: The Peninsular News and Advertiser was a weekly Milford newspaper. The collection includes original newspapers from April 1857 to May 1859, January 1872 to December 1872, and January 1893 to December 1893. The newspaper contains a large assortment of advertisements, local and national news, and miscellaneous literature and articles. Nearly each weekly newspaper has a dedicated section for agricultural news and advertising, as well as a political news page. Issues for 1873 – 1874, 1880 – 1882 , 1886-1887, and 1889 are on microfilm.

Philemon C. Carter Collection: This collection includes Captain Carter’s official appointment to captain, the 1962 muster-out roll for Company H, military correspondence, broadsides and circulars for collecting military claims, a discharge certificate for George Jarvis, a special requisition for blankets, a statement of discharge and compensation for Captain Carter, and the constitution and bylaws agreed upon by the Kent County residents that made up the “Home Guards.”

Post Card Collection: The Delaware Public Archives’ general post card collection. A majority of the collection was created by the Delaware State Museums and transferred to the Archives in 1992-1993. Many new accessions have been added to it.

Reverend Joseph Brown Turner Collection: Reverend Turner’s Collection of genealogical notes and correspondence concerning about three thousand Delmarva Peninsula families.

Richardson Family Letters: This collection of letters from Alden B. Richardson III to his father, William P. Richardson, detail daily life after Alden enters the army during World War II. This collection also contains V-Letters, Alden’s life insurance information, post cards, change of address information, telegrams, a receipt for a war savings bond, and photographs.

State Map Collection: The State Map Collection includes several dated and undated maps of areas in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and other surrounding areas. Some maps are of Delaware Bay, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, military forts, and major cities. This collection includes the Beers’ Atlas from 1868.

State Reports Collection: This is a comprehensive, but by no means complete, collection of works published by all government agencies within the state.

Vietnam Mailbag Records: The Vietnam Mailbag is a collection of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs compiled by Nancy E. Lynch for her “Vietnam Mailbag” column in the Wilmington Morning News. Correspondence includes nearly nine hundred letters from Delaware soldiers in Vietnam, describing their viewpoints on the war, life in Vietnam, and the home front. These records were used in Lynch’s book, Vietnam Mailbag: Voices from the War, 1968-1972.

William C. Jason Collection: Papers and letters relating to Reverend William C. Jason, minister for the Delaware Episcopal Methodist Church Conference for twelve years, first black president for Delaware State College (D.1895) for twenty-eight years, father, and husband to Madora Bailey.

World War II Records: An assortment of materials related to Delaware’s participation in wartime activities, used as working papers for the publication Delaware’s Role in WWII. Included is a scrapbook with documents collected by the Frankford Colored School in Frankford, Delaware from 1939 to 1945.


Photograph Collections


Board of Agriculture Glass Negative Collection: The State Board of Agriculture was responsible for the protection and promotion of agriculture in the state and its Bureau of Markets was most heavily involved with promoting the overall economic development of the state. The Board’s staff photographer, Roydon L. Hammond, traveled throughout the state and photographed local scenes, buildings, and agricultural subjects many of which were later used in promotional publications.

Board of Education Photograph Collection: Prints and negatives from the Board of Education capturing images of school construction, activities and events. The photographs in this collection document existing and former school buildings, new school construction and school activities including Track and Field, May Day, Future Homemakers of America (FHA), New Homemakers of America (NHA), and Drivers Education among others. There are images from the 1928 Apple Blossom Festival parade in Dover, capturing rare scenes from the intersection of State St, King’s Highway and Loockerman St.

The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce Photograph Collection: The collection includes photographs of the Port Mahon lighthouse, Reedy Island Lighthouse, and families from the Port Mahon area.

Delaware in WWII: Governor Walter W. Bacon authorized the Public Archives Commission to collect historical materials that would document Delaware’s participation in World War II. The photographs obtained document the military bases, servicemen, National Guard activities, and various civilian war efforts.

Delaware’s Role in WWII: Photographs collected for use in the book, Delaware’s Role in World War II, written by William H. Conner and Leon deValinger, Jr. It was published by the Public Archives Commission in 1955. The photos include views of the Delaware National Guard, military bases in the state, Delaware servicemen and servicewomen in various theaters of war, and civilian efforts on the home front. These civilian activities include civilian defense, war bond drives, agricultural and industrial production, and selective service. There are three folders of photos not published in the book.

Department of State Photographs – Cities & Towns: The Cities and Towns category of the Delaware Public Archives General Photograph Collection consists of 333 photographs of various cities and towns in Delaware. Several of the photos are from the nineteenth century, but a majority were taken during the twentieth century.

Dover Air Force Base: The Early Years: An online exhibit of selected photographs from the early years, available on Flickr and with more resources on ContentDM.

Frank R. Zebley Photograph Collection – Along the Brandywine: Photographic prints and negatives taken by Frank R. Zebley. The photos were used to illustrate his book Along the Brandywine which he published in 1940. Only a small fraction of the photographs taken as part of this project were actually used as illustrations in the book, yet for nearly every landmark mentioned in the text there is an accompanying photograph. These unpublished views of the Brandywine comprise the bulk of this collection.

Frank R. Zebley Photograph Collection – Churches of Delaware: Photographic prints and negatives taken by Frank R. Zebley for his book Churches of Delaware, which was published in 1947. Mr. Zebley was a Wilmington building contractor and State Representative where he served for a time as Speaker of the House. Most of the photos found here do not appear in the published book.

Fort Delaware, Fort DuPont, and Fort Mott Glass Negative Collection: The U.S. Corps of Engineers photographed construction work at Fort Delaware, Fort DuPont, and Fort Mott, New Jersey, before and during the Spanish-American War.

The Harold W. T. Purnell Photograph Collection: The Purnell Collection contains representations of a wide range of subjects and time periods that give an excellent view of Sussex County life. The collection has approximately 14,000 images and dates from about 1860 through 1963.

Keilson Collection: Meyer Keilson was an architect who specialized in stage and motion picture theater design. He took these photos of street scenes, historic and public buildings, houses, transportation, and historic markers throughout Delaware, during his travels.

The Historical and Cultural Affairs Photograph Collection: A collection of Civil War portraits.

Jackson and Sharp Collection: The Jackson and Sharp Company was founded in January 1863 by Job H. Jackson and Jacob F. Sharpe to manufacture railroad cars. The company soon became one of the leading employers in Wilmington and one of the leading car manufacturers in the world. It built the first American narrow-gauge car in 1871, received the Centennial Exposition medal for a car exhibited there in 1876, and built many private cars for wealthy Americans and foreign nobility. Although known primarily for their luxury cars, Jackson and Sharp also constructed streetcars and ships. These lantern slides may have been used by a Jackson and Sharp salesman to show the various types of cars that the company built.

Project Delaware: A series of 1420 aerial view color slides documenting the state in 1970.

The State Highway Department Photograph Collection: This series documents the improvement of Delaware’s highway system through views of early construction methods and equipment, the construction of the DuPont Highway, before and after views of locations, accidents, road signs, early road conditions, beautification efforts, snow removal, early bridges, and flood damage.0.

The Wicks Family Photograph Collection: This early twentieth century photograph collection includes 17 photos of various scenes of Delaware and Maryland.

The Wilmington Railway Collection: The Wilmington Railway Collection consists of eighty-two photographs of trolleys and locomotives in the Wilmington area. The majority of the photos are of trolley cars, either on area streets, at the car barn, or at the car garage.

Woodside Glass Negatives Collection: Subjects include the train station, a steam train at the station, street scenes, Woodside Methodist Church and the Elizabeth Jarrell store, boating on Derby Pond, baptisms at Derby Pond, women gathering water lilies, a tomato canning factory and a view of the Viola train station.


Online Exhibits


Becoming the First State – Delaware’s Road to Ratification: This exhibit was created to highlight selected documents related to Delaware’s ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787.

Civil War Diary of Cyrus Forwood: On May 11th, 1861, Delawarean Cyrus Forwood volunteered for three months of service in the Union Army. These are the day-by-day notes and observations he wrote in his diary during his time as a soldier. The diary provides insights into the life of a Delaware soldier in the Civil War. 

Delaware’s Historic Houses of Worship: An online exhibit featuring a historic house of worship, complete with links to a historic photo gallery. This is currently being updated weekly.

The Delaware Historical Marker Program: The Delaware Historical Marker Program began in 1931 and since then, the State of Delaware has erected more than 660 markers. The Delaware Public Archives has administered the program since 1990. Historical markers are the result of partnerships between the Delaware Public Archives, state legislators, and local community members. This is currently being updated weekly.

Delaware and the Civil War: Explore the history of Delawareans during the American Civil War through photographs, diaries, letters, service records, legislation, newspapers, and more.

Examining the 17th Century Through the Documents of the Delaware Public Archives: This exhibit has images of some of the most important and interesting documents in our holdings from the seventeenth century. These range in flavor from the “crown jewels” in our collection, the state charter and related leases and deed giving Delaware to William Penn, to humorous notations in an early court docket to lists of early settlers. Accompanying the documents are more easily read transcriptions.

First Naturalized Hispanic Settlers in Delaware: An exhibit tracing the records of the first Hispanic settlers in Delaware starts with the naturalization records housed in the Delaware Public Archives. We trace three settlers from Naturalization, Marriage, Census, Residence and Death.

Haunted Delaware: We updated one of our most popular online exhibits featuring photos and stories about structures such as Fort Delaware, Rockford Mansion, and the Addy-Sea Inn, as well as locations like Lums State Park, Cooch’s Bridge, and Scott’s Run Bridge.

Slavery Papers: This exhibit consists of selected manumission papers, birth records, petitions for freedom, and a bill of sale for enslaved African-Americans in Delaware.

The Storm of 1962: Previously unreleased photographs from one of the most destructive storms in the First State’s recorded history. The majority of these never before seen images were digitized from historic printed photos and scanned from acetate negatives.

Then and Now Gallery: Photographs that compare Delaware locations from different eras. Completed with assistance from the Lion’s Club.

Tracing Your African American Roots in Delaware: A repository of eBooks, Multimedia and Documents about early African American life in Delaware.

War of 1812: An online exhibit commemorating the State of Delaware’s role in the War of 1812. Included are eBooks, Military Reports, Documents and Correspondence from Capt. Macdonough, to Major Thomas Stockton, General John Stockton.


Resources


Agency Histories: This guide provides historical and background information on each agency of Delaware Government. Knowing the functions and jurisdictions of each organization is useful in determining the research value of the records each agency creates. This guide also functions as a good resource for locating keywords for input in the Online Guide To The Collections.

Ancestry: The Delaware Public Archives is pleased to present a partnership with Ancestry.com that provides free access to State of Delaware residents, allowing you to explore the collections below that have been fully digitized. Free access to these records does require an Ancestry.com account, which is also free.

Collections Gateway: This is a small grouping of our most requested collection databases. You can search collections like Apprentice Indentures, Election Results, Governor’s Appointments, Orphans Courts, Probates and more.

The Delaware Annual Reports Collection: provides an on-line repository into which state agencies can place their annual and biennial reports, as called for in a 2014 update of the Delaware Freedom of Information Act. That update requires all executive branch agencies that are required to submit annual or biennial reports to electronically post copies to a designated state website. The Annual Reports Collection is a joint project involving the Delaware Division of Libraries, the Delaware Public Archives, and the Government Information Center. It uses a document cataloguing system managed by the State Libraries and is integrated with the Archives’ mission to maintain copies of state materials for future generations.

Delaware Library Catalog (Books and Publications): The books, published volumes, and periodicals in the holdings of the Delaware Public Archives (DPA) are now indexed in the Delaware Library Catalog. This online resource allows users to search through the collections of many different Delaware libraries and research facilities at once.

Executive Orders: The Delaware Public Archives is proud to present the complete collection of executive orders issued by Governors of Delaware. From the first executive order signed by Governor McMullen in 1939 to the most recent by Governor Carney.

Guide To Census Records: Delaware’s United States census material offers a wealth of information to a researcher. Genealogists find census particularly useful for tracing family lines or histories in the state. Historians find them useful for local history information. Social scientists find them useful for demographics, ethnic studies, etc.

Guide to Civil War Records: These records contain information about a wide variety of individual documents in our holdings including Small Manuscripts (correspondence, diaries, etc), Military Service Records, Microfilm, Executive Papers, Newspaper Clippings and more.

Guide to Records of the Delaware State Legislature: This guide, indicating and describing the scope of the Legislative holdings at the Delaware Public Archives, will assist the researcher in finding legislative materials.

Guide To Vital Statistics Records (Births, Marriages, and Deaths): The Delaware Public Archives provides many valuable resources for researching vital statistics records. Without such information, a person may not be able to locate a birth certificate to obtain a passport or fill in that last missing link in his or her family tree.

Heritage Collection eBooks: Titles from our DE Heritage Collection in PDF format.

Historical Markers Program: The Delaware Public Archives operates the Historical Markers program as part of its mandate. Markers are placed at historically significant locations and sites across the state. This resource contains a page for each marker containing links to resources here at the DPA as well as external resources as well. A map and link to a photo gallery containing historical photos is included for each marker. This is currently being updated weekly.

Town and City Histories: Comprehensive histories of the governance and management of Delaware’s Towns and Cities, continually updated.

Online Guide to the Collections (Series Descriptions): In its current state, the Guide comprises over 4,500 separate descriptions, each of which represents portions of records groups within the collection. Access to the Guide is available through a search of this collection. Please note: before requesting records please take a look at our Records Availability page as some records are exempt from FOIA and Architectural Drawings require a notarized written request. 

Private Vital Statistics, Tombstone and Cemetery Records: This collection includes cemetery locations, names of deceased with dates of birth and death, and occasionally names of parents. The first box contains foldered lists for many church and family cemeteries throughout Delaware received from numerous donors. 

World War I: This guide highlights the collections in the Delaware Public Archives that contain records pertaining to World War I.

World War II: This guide highlights the collections in the Delaware Public Archives that contain records pertaining to World War II.


Additional Information


Records Availability: A few words about the Availability of Records.

Requesting Records: Please read the following information before placing your request, as it will provide information to help you form your inquiries for better results. Information here includes Fees, Information about Vital Statistic Requests, Photograph Requests, Microfilm and our staff’s limitations regarding research assistance.

Public Forms: Here you can find forms pertinent to research.



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