Archive for the ‘Delaware History’ Category

And They’re Off!!!

Friday, September 12th, 2014
Dawn Mitchell, supervisor, Mabel Lloyd Ridgely Research Room

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.

Harness Racing in Harrington, 1947. 1325-003-036-106pn

Harness Racing in Harrington, 1947. 1325-003-036-106pn


“Well Broken Chincoteague Pony For Sale”

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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.

Delaware Coast Press August 31, 1934

Delaware Coast Press
August 31, 1934

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.

Delaware Cities & Towns Map Collection II (RG 1325.203) Rehoboth Beach, 1938

Delaware Cities & Towns Map Collection II
RG 1325.203
Rehoboth Beach, 1938

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.”

Delaware Coast Press September 7, 1934

Delaware Coast Press
September 7, 1934

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.

Delaware Coast Press September 21, 1934

Delaware Coast Press
September 21, 1934

The History of Farming in Delaware

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

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


Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee

Celebrating the Final Year of the Delmarva Chicken Festival

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014


Governor Elbert Carvel and Delmarva Chicken Festival Queen Jane Mustard flash their smiles as she pretends to place a chef’s hat on the Governor’s head at the 1950 Delmarva Chicken Festival.

Governor Elbert Carvel and Delmarva Chicken Festival Queen Jane Mustard smile as she places a chef’s hat on the Governor’s head at the 1950 Delmarva Chicken Festival.

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.

Voices of War-World War II Series Donated to the Delaware Public Archives

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

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.

Governor Markell speaking at the ceremony

Governor Markell speaking at the ceremony


Central Middle School students gather for a photo after the program

Central Middle School students gather for a photo after the program


D-Day Program at Delaware Public Archives to Commemorate 70th Anniversary

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The D-Day invasion of Normandy is remembered as an American triumph and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. On Saturday, June 7, 10:30 a.m. the Delaware Public Archives will commemorate the 70th anniversary of this pivotal day in American and World history with a special program at the Archives about the battle. This program will explore elements of the battle often left out of the narrative including the high level of risk and uncertainty faced by American officers and the sacrifices made by the troops on the blood-soaked beaches. How did these soldiers survive situations in which they had to sometimes offset the miscalculations of their superiors with their own raw courage? What was it like, on June 6, 1944, to ride the first troop transports onto the beaches, to land by parachute in the French countryside, or to have to wait in England to find out if the mission had succeeded or failed? Join us at the Delaware Public Archives for this program and find out.

Delaware Public Archives to Accept World War II Collection at June 3rd Ceremony

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Delaware in World War II

The “Wooden World Revealed”: The Archaeology and History of His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

The wars on land and sea during the late eighteenth century were an important part of Atlantic history, and unite the naval and maritime histories of many countries around the world. Consequently, a British warship named the DeBraak was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. With its discovery in the 1980s, the DeBraak and its nearly 20,000 artifacts have provided us an unparalleled opportunity to examine and understand what it meant to be a sailor in the Royal Navy during this critical period. On Saturday, May 3, 1:30 p.m. Charles Fithian, Curator of Archaeology with the State of Delaware Historical and Cultural Affairs Division, will present this special program at the Delaware Public Archives focusing on the DeBraak’s role in the wider historical context of the times, the archaeological analysis of the artifacts found, and what life was like aboard a ship in the Royal Navy.

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 worked for the State of Delaware for more than 27 years. 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. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail

Charles (Chuck) Fithian

Charles (Chuck) Fithian

Delaware Public Archives to Feature “Behind the Scenes” Tour

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

If you were born, married, or attended public school in Delaware, eventually the Delaware Public Archives (DPA) will receive the information that documents these important events. On Saturday, April 5, 10:30 a.m. the staff of the Archives will conduct a tour of this remarkable facility.

This annual “behind the scenes” tour of the building, conducted by Tom Summers, Manager of Outreach Services, offers the public a rare opportunity to learn more about the role of the DPA, and see how the Archives preserves and protects the records that are important to every Delawarean. Archives Director Stephen M. Marz notes that “many people who have toured the Archives are surprised by the amount of documents and photographs that are stored at the facility. Because the Delaware Public Archives serves as the official government repository for state, county and local government records, the Archives is well known as a valuable resource for researchers, genealogists, and historians.” Part of the tour will include a viewing of the new display honoring the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision which led to the desegregation of schools in Delaware and throughout the nation. The tour is free to the public. No reservations are required.

How Do I Preserve My Documents, Photographs and Digital Memories?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Looking for a way to preserve those family photos and videos for future generations to see? On Saturday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m., the Delaware Public Archives will show how to preserve items such as old photographs, documents and digitized memories on CDs, DVDs, and flash drives. This workshop will provide you with the knowledge needed to care for and preserve those irreplaceable memories. This preservation workshop will be presented by the staff of the Delaware Public Archives (DPA) and the Delaware Government Information Center (GIC) and will include basic information and instruction on proper handling and storage of family papers, photographs and digital media to ensure long term preservation.

Archives staff member, Sarah Denison, will present information on the conservation and preservation of paper documents and photographs. Ms. Denison has processed a number of collections including Civil War letters in the Small Manuscript Collection, Board of Education photographs, Sussex County Orphans Court Records, and the Caley Postcard Collection. She has most recently completed the processing and cataloguing of the Vietnam Mailbag Collection.

Concerning digital records, Mike Mahaffie, Deputy Director GIC, will address what is needed to save your digital memories. Highlighting his discussion will be a quick history of ways people have been saving digital records, things to do to determine what is important, what is needed to maintain your digital moments as technology changes, and the various ways available to save what’s important to you based on cost and longevity.

The workshop is free to the public. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail

Sarah Denison and Mike Mahaffie

Sarah Denison and Mike Mahaffie