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  Archived Posts From: 2015

The Davis Collection

Written on: October 23rd, 2015 in Blog PostsInside the DPAPhotographs

To celebrate Archives Month, we’ll be sharing some of our recent accessions. Check back each Friday for a new post.

Connor Graham, processing archivist

Vera Gilbride Davis was a prominent figure in Delaware politics for more than forty years. She was called the “Grande Dame of Delaware Politics” and was known for achieving a number of firsts for women during her career. She was the first woman bill clerk in the House of Representatives, first woman secretary of the Senate, first woman elected president pro tempore of the Senate, first women to serve as House majority leader, and first woman elected state treasurer of Delaware. In addition to her political accomplishments, Mrs. Davis served on the state Board of Welfare, was president of Easter Seals of Delaware, served on the Mothers Pension Commission, and at the time of her death was the longest serving member of the Board of Directors of Kent General Hospital. Her contributions were many, and her successful career opened the doors for thousands of Delaware women who aspire to serve their fellow citizens.

5 Vera Davis

Vera Davis (1894-1974)
Davis Collection (RG 9200-D22-014)

The Davis Collection consists of a wide variety of documents, photographs, and newspaper clippings that the Davis family saved for over 100 years. Mrs. Davis’ State Treasurer certificate is included in the collection as well as private correspondence, papers from the many boards she served on, an invitation to Harry Truman’s inauguration, and Equal Rights papers from her fight for women’s rights in the beginning of the 20th century. The collection also contains many documents regarding her husband, Frank Hall Davis, Sr., and sons Frank Jr. and John who both served in World War II.



Vera Davis Wedding Photo. Davis Collection (RG 9200-D22-014)


Frank H. Davis, Jr. and John G. Davis. Davis Photograph Collection (RG 9200-D22-014)


Vera Davis Wedding Photo. Davis Collection (RG 9200-D22-014)


Patricia Mercer, Mrs. Davis’ granddaughter, recently donated the Davis Collection to the Delaware Public Archives. After the collection was processed, Patricia and her husband Tom visited the Archives to help archivists identify photographs, which will enable even more researchers to connect with the collection.

Davis Family

Patricia and Tom Mercer review photographs with DPA processing archivist Connor Graham


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Caesar Rodney Student Hand Book

Written on: October 16th, 2015 in Blog PostsInside the DPAPhotographs

To celebrate Archives Month, we’ll be sharing some of our recent accessions. Check back each Friday for a new post.

Connor Graham, processing archivist

The Caesar Rodney Student Hand Book was originally printed in 1935 and then revised in 1938. The handbook is broken down into six chapters: school activities, a history of the school and its building and grounds, program of studies, awards, honors, and the point system, extra-curricular activities, and athletics.


Caesar Rodney Student Handbook, 1938
State Reports Collection (RG 1325-003-147-8065)


The Caesar Rodney School officially opened in 1916. This handbook provides background on the school’s beginnings and the changes they had seen since 1916. With the growing enrollment and consolidation of a number of rural schools, the need for a larger building was necessary. In 1921, a wing was added to the original building and later an additional wing and gymnasium. At this point, grades 1-12 were all located under one roof. In 1934, they expanded again and created a building for the high school and that was connected to the original structure. When this handbook was created the enrollment for the twelve grades exceeded 700 students.

8005-000-015 Caesar Rodney School Building March 24 1932Caesar Rodney School Building, March 24, 1932
Board of Education Photograph Collection (RG 8005-000-015)


School activities included a Halloween dance, the Dover-Caesar Rodney Football game on Thanksgiving Day, senior play, Junior Prom, Senior Trip to Washington, All School Banquet, and baccalaureate sermon.

In 1938, there were six different programs of study that were offered at the Caesar Rodney School:

Academic: for students who intended to go to college
Scientific: for students who planed to go to college but who did not want to take four years of foreign language
Commercial: for students interested in business training
Vocational Home Economics: for girls who wanted their life vocation to be home making, nursing, etc.
Vocational Agriculture: for three groups of boys; (1) those going to work on a farm after graduation, (2) those going to related agricultural colleges, (3) those who planned to attend agricultural colleges
General: for students who do not wish to major in any one field

In addition to the programs of study, students had the opportunity to take special subjects such as manual arts, mechanical drawing, auto mechanics, art, and music.


8005-000-015 Caesar Rodney April 1940 Home Making Class KC

Caesar Rodney Homemaking Class, April 1940
Board of Education Photograph Collection (RG 8005-000-015)


Awards and honors included National Honor Society, earning an All School letter, and scholarships. The handbook detailed how to qualify for National Honor Society and lists the members from 1934-1938. Introduced as an incentive program for students, a point system was adopted for students to earn awards. If a student earned 10 points freshman year, 20 points sophomore year, 30 points junior year, and 40 points senior year they would be awarded an All School letter. Points were awarded for involvement in school activities and associations. A list of students who received All School Letters is listed in the handbook.

1325-003-147-8065-CR handbook inside

Caesar Rodney Student Handbook, 1938
State Reports Collection (RG 1325-003-147-8065)


Extra-curricular activities are also included in the handbook:

Student Association: organized for the purpose of bringing all student organizations under one head, helping to maintain law and order, and supporting all school activities.
The Traffic Squad: helped and maintained order in halls before school and between classes, plan and direct fire drills, work with the Safety Council for the safety of children on the playground.
The Crisp: the school magazine that was published quarterly.
Assemblies: held at the Caesar Rodney School to promote school spirit, give students a broader education, and offer an opportunity for students to express themselves.

Safety Council: in charge of safety regulations outside the building.
Dramatic Club: helped students speak more freely and without difficulty in public as well as to teach them to become better actors and actresses.
Manners and Etiquette Club: organized to teach students to meet situations gracefully.
Library Club: helped boys and girls to learn more about books.
Bachelor’s Club: organized to provide an opportunity for boys to put on an apron and learn a few of the “finer” arts of housekeeping.
Agriculture Club: the Caesar Rodney Chapter of The Future Farmers of America.
Handy Club for Girls: girls learned to construct small household items and make minor repairs around the home with ordinary hand tools.
Home Craft: composed of boys who have a special interest in building small articles of household furniture.
Junior Girl Reserves: a branch of the Y.W.C.A. The group sought to help girls ages 12-18 develop a well-balanced personality, grow physically, and take on social responsibility.
Home Economics Club: teach girls how to knit, cook, and how to act in company.
Glee Club

In 1938, Caesar Rodney had football, basketball, baseball, and track available for boys to participate in. Football had recently been added to the handbook, replacing soccer. Girls could play basketball or volleyball, and also had physical education classes.

As we celebrate one hundred years of the Caesar Rodney School District, it is exciting to be able to look back through this handbook and see how far the schools have come in the past 77 years.

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Survival Strategies for Personal Digital Records

Written on: October 10th, 2015 in Blog PostsInside the DPARecords Management

In recognition of Electronic Records Day (10/10/15), we’re sharing some helpful tips for maintaining your personal digital records courtesy of The Council of State Archivists. 

Electronic files are much more fragile than paper records, and their long-term survival requires attention and planning. These tips can help you better preserve your personal digital collections.

Personal Files:


Digital Images:


Additional Resources:

Robert J. Bennett Photograph Collection

Written on: October 9th, 2015 in Blog PostsInside the DPAPhotographs

To celebrate Archives Month, we’ll be sharing some of our recent accessions. Check back each Friday for a new post.


Mary Hanes, processing archivist


Indian River Life-Saving Station. Robert J. Bennett Photograph Collection (RG 9015-036-001)

Have you ever wanted to tour the state of Delaware without the hassle of driving around for hours?  If so, visit the archives and view the recently acquired collection of photographs taken by Delaware photographer Robert J. Bennett. A lifetime resident of Bridgeville, Mr. Bennett started his career in photography when he served as an Army Signal Corps photographer in Europe from 1951 to 1953. After returning home, he continued pursuing photography, and took more than four thousand photographs for his book Sussex County Delaware – 301 Years Later and contributed many photos to the books The Great Storm of March 1962 and The Storm of ’62 – From Ruin to Recovery. Mr. Bennett also became Delaware’s first certified professional photographer, the official photographer for the Delaware State Fair, and provided photos for stock photography for newspapers and magazines.


9015-036-001 Pumpkin Art Folder 4 portrait001

Pumpkin Art Robert J. Bennett Photograph Collection (RG 9015-036-001)


This extensive collection was donated by Mr. Bennett’s wife, Eleanor Bennett, and contains over 22,000 of Mr. Bennett’s black and white photographs and color photo slides. The collection spans from 1951 to 2003 and features the many facets of Delaware life in all three counties, such as agriculture, churches, historic houses, and beaches.  Additionally, Mr. Bennett photographed events like Punkin Chunkin and the annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow. Other fun categories in the collection include pumpkin art, vanity license plates, and outhouses.  A finding aid for the collection has recently been developed to help researchers access the collection by subject. Visit the research room to learn more and to view the collection.



Downstate Delaware Genealogical Society to meet at Archives on Saturday

Written on: October 5th, 2015 in Blog PostsEvents at the ArchivesResearch Room

The October meeting of the Downstate Delaware Genealogical Society will take place at the Archives on Saturday, October 10, 2:00 p.m. Professional Genealogist Angela Rodesky will be presenting a program titled “Searching Newspapers.” She will focus on some of the hidden information which can be found in newspapers such as obituaries, birth announcements, social events, elections, advertisements, court docket information and police reports. The public is welcome to attend and guests are encouraged.

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