On Monday night, February 23, 6:30 p.m., Tom Summers, Outreach Services Manager at the Delaware Public Archives, will be speaking at the Lewes Public Library in Lewes, Delaware. Summers will be presenting a program titled “More Treasures of the Delaware Public Archives.” While the Delaware Public Archives has presented its original “Treasures” program for many years in venues throughout the First State, the Archives is returning with this new presentation which will feature an array of unique documents and photographs that provide a look at Delaware life from the 17th century to the present. These images tell the story of the First State and the people who have made Delaware their home. This program is free to the public and no reservations are required.
Archive for the ‘Delaware History’ Category
Nineteenth century African American genealogy is particularly difficult for researchers. On Saturday, February 7, at 10:30 a.m. the Delaware Public Archives will host a special program which will explore this challenging time period for African American genealogy. Presented by Shamele Jordon, the program will focus on a variety of sources and strategies for locating ancestors using federal, county, and organizational records from reconstruction back to the slavery time period. Records to be discussed include Freedmen’s Bureau, Freedman’s Bank, probate records and more.
Shamele Jordon is a researcher, lecturer and podcaster. A researcher for the PBS series, Oprah’s Roots: African American Lives Special and African American Lives II, Jordon has served as president of the African American Genealogy Group in Philadelphia, lectured at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama, and been a board member of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.
The program is free to the public and will last approximately one hour. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail email@example.com.
In 1814 the War of 1812 was entering into its second full year. During the previous year the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Valley region experienced active naval campaigning and a seaborne blockade. On Saturday, January 3, at 10:30 a.m. historian Charles (Chuck) Fithian will visit the Delaware Public Archives to present a program on this little known period of Delaware history. Delawareans were active participants in these events and directly experienced the effects of naval irregular warfare. In 1814, they would continue to aid in the national defense, and would respond to new threats brought about by this destructive war.
Mr. Fithian, a resident of Dover, is an historical archaeologist who has directed the research and conservation of the DeBraak and its large associated collection. With a concentration in colonial, military and naval history, Fithian is a graduate of Wesley College and Salisbury University, and has recently retired from the State of Delaware after more than 27 years of service. He has also conducted extensive research on 17th century Delaware, the Delaware Regiment during the American Revolution, and the War of 1812.
The program is free to the public and will last approximately one hour. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Katelyn Fair (302) 744-5016 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Hall, reference archivist
Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving in some form since 1789. President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation in 1863 that Thanksgiving should fall on the last Thursday of November and for the most part, states celebrated the holiday at the end of the month. However, it wasn’t until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1941 that we began celebrating the holiday on the Fourth Thursday of November. The National Archives has that proclamation available online for all to see.
Between 1863 and 1941, before the day became a national holiday, presidents and state governors made annual Thanksgiving proclamations setting aside the day as one of thanksgiving and reflection. The Governors Papers Collection at the Delaware Public Archives has a nice selection of Thanksgiving proclamations from former Delaware governors’. Some invoke the “early settlers upon our shores, beset by hardships and perils,” like Governor Buck did in 1935:
In 1893, Governor Reynolds saw that Delawareans had been regarding Thanksgiving as “a day for indulgence in riotous living and worldly sports, contrary to the spirit in which the custom originated” and encouraged “the people of this State [to] lay aside all secular occupations” on that day:
In a similar vein, in 1901, Governor John Hunn recommended “that on that day all business of whatever character be suspended, and that the people assemble in their accustomed places of public worship, and there render thanks for those inestimable benefits which have been accorded them.”
Which proclamation is your favorite?
Sarah Denison, processing archivist
Tomorrow Delawareans up and down the state will head to polling places to cast their vote in the midterm election. Not sure who to vote for? For hundreds of years political parties and special-interest groups have issued flyers endorsing candidates. Check out these tickets from the 1800s. They won’t help you make a decision tomorrow, but they might inspire you to follow in the footsteps of generations of Delawareans to get out and vote.
That’s what the Harrington Raceway track announcer will be saying around 7:30 on Monday night when the country’s top pacers will be set to do battle in the 8th Annual Bobby Quillen Memorial Pace. This race honors longtime Delaware legislator Bobby Quillen. Representative Quillen was known for his smile, optimism, and the fact the he never wore socks. He served two separate stints in the state House of Representatives from 1966 to 1972 and from 1982 to 2004, spending two of his terms in leadership as the majority whip from 1992 to 1996. Quillen was also a director of the Harrington Raceway and loved the great Delaware tradition of harness racing. With one of the biggest purses offered in Delaware at over $200,000 this harness race draws not only the top pacers in the country, but the top harness drivers. Last year a new track record was set with an amazing 1:49.2 mile! The richest pacer of all time, Foiled Again, is starting in the 1 hole. The United States Trotting Association is calling for an exciting race after last Monday’s elimination races.
If you would like to learn more about Delaware’s Harness Racing, why not stop by and check out Harness Racing Minutes from 1949-2003. Or drop in and look at old photographs from Harrington Raceway. For all of you going on Monday night to see a great Delaware tradition continue, we thought you may enjoy this photo from Harrington Raceway from 1947.
Katie Hall, reference archivist
While searching old beach newspapers for Labor Day-related articles, this full-page advertisement for an auction of lots in the Heights section of Rehoboth Beach in the August 31, 1934, edition of the Delaware Coast Press caught our eyes.
The auction took place on Labor Day weekend “on the premises near the ocean in the heights.” Henry Conant, a developer from Chincoteague, had initially acquired the 150 acres that would make up the Rehoboth Heights section of Rehoboth in 1923 from Col. Robert Hinckley. By 1934, The Heights section contained the areas made up by Philadelphia Avenue to the North, the Atlantic Ocean to the East, Silver Lake to the South, and the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to the West. The Rehoboth Beach Country Club golf course was in the western part of The Heights until it moved in 1966. The Heights later became part of South Rehoboth—one of the last sections annexed into the city. This 1938 map of Rehoboth shows the location of The Heights just a few years after the Labor Day auction.
The lots “with all their natural beauty, adorned with lovely big oaks and pines, high land and near the boardwalk” would have been extremely desirable. To sweeten the pot further, Mr. Conant offered anyone who bought a lot an entry in a drawing to win a Chincoteague pony, along with a bridle and saddle! An item in the Coast Press from September 7, 1934, called the auction a success, with all 25 lots selling at a “reasonable price.” A Miss Nancy Ingram was the lucky winner of “Mick,” the Chincoteague pony. The pony got to live in the garage, while the family’s car “remains in the rain.”
All must not have been rosy between Mick and Miss Ingram. A notice in the September 21 Coast Press advertised a “Well Broken Chincoteague Pony including a bridle and saddle” for sale. Interested parties were to contact Nancy Ingram.
Farming and its related agricultural industries have been a major force in the social, cultural, and economic history of Delaware. Today, agriculture remains the state’s largest industry, generating over $1 billion in income from an array of crops, poultry, and livestock. On Saturday, August 2, at 10:30 a.m., Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, will discuss the rich history and tradition of Delaware farming and the major role it has played in the progress and evolution of the First State.
Ed Kee, a nationally and internationally recognized expert on vegetable science, is a native of Delaware who has spent his entire career in agriculture. Appointed as the Kent County agricultural agent for the University of Delaware in 1978, Kee eventually became the state vegetable crops specialist. In 2004, he was appointed as the extension agricultural program leader. Retiring from the University in 2008, Kee worked for Hanover Foods Corporation as director of agriculture before being confirmed as the Delaware Secretary of Agriculture in 2009.
The program, to be held at the Delaware Public Archives, is free to the public and will last approximately one hour. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail email@example.com.
Sarah Denison, processing archivist
This year marks the 65th and final year of the Delmarva Chicken Festival. Started in 1948, the Delmarva Chicken Festival is a celebration of the area’s poultry industry. Over the years, people flocked to the festival to see the world’s largest frying pan. With a 10 foot diameter and weighing in at 650 pounds, the fry pan holds 800 chicken quarters.
Aside from a new fry pan in 1988, not much about the festival has changed through the years. The Delmarva Chicken Festival will remain a fond memory for many residents of the Delmarva Peninsula and an important part of the history of the poultry industry. We’ll be sharing images from our holding of past festivals on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Check them out and share your Delmarva Chicken Festival memories with us.
On Tuesday June 3rd, Governor Jack Markell, Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, State Archivist Stephen Marz and members of the Delaware General Assembly commemorated Delaware’s role in World War II at a ceremony where the Delaware Public Archives formally accessioned the “William J. Kitchell Collection – Voices of War, World War II Series.”
The ‘Voices of War’ Project, started in 2001 by local filmmaker Thomas J. Healy II, includes interviews with over 100 Delawareans who served or were active on the home front during World War II. The William J. Kitchell Collection is an ongoing project that includes the World War II, Korea and Vietnam Series. The collection is a first-person, oral history project intended to memorialize the accounts and experiences of our veterans, create a documentary and develop a comprehensive educational program for use in middle and high school social studies classes.
Students from Central Middle School in Dover participated in the ceremony by leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.