Archive for the ‘Delaware History’ Category

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

Searching for Your Irish Family Roots

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

On March 1, 10:30 a.m., the Delaware Public Archives will present a special Irish genealogical program by well-known Delaware genealogist Nancy Lyons entitled “Searching for Your Irish Family Roots.”

Ms. Lyons will focus on researching Irish American ancestry both online and in U.S. record repositories. Researchers will learn how to utilize the census, vital statistics, church documents, naturalizations, passenger lists and other essential record groups to fill in the blanks of their family trees. Ms. Lyons will also share additional reference resources such as internet sites and suggested reading material.

Nancy Lyons is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Genealogical Society. The founder of the Irish Family History Research Group, Lyons has volunteered at the Mormon Family History Center in Wilmington for 19 years. She also served as the chair of the Delaware Genealogical Society Educational Committee for nine years. Other memberships include Friends of the Delaware Archives, Delaware Genealogical Society, Downstate Delaware Genealogical Society, and the Sussex County Genealogical Society.

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

The Milford School Desegregation Crisis of 1954

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

In honor of African American History Month, the Delaware Public Archives will present a special program to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education case on Saturday, February 1, 2014, 10:30 a.m.  Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the Brown v. Board of Education in May 1954, Milford High School attempted to integrate the following fall with the admittance of eleven African American students.  Within a short time, the nation’s media focused on this Delaware town as it suffered through school boycotts and the arrival of a white racist organizer named Bryant Bowles. This program will be presented by Orlando Camp, one of eleven students who attempted to integrate the school and the co-author of “The Milford Eleven,” a book about the journey of these eleven African American students.

Orlando Camp’s education began in integrated school systems in Philadelphia and Swarthmore Pennsylvania. He moved to Milford, Delaware as a young teenager and attended the all-black Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in Milford. Camp earned his high school diploma from William Henry Comprehensive High School in Dover.  After serving in the United States Army where he received the Outstanding Soldier of the Year award, he continued his education at Delaware County Community College and Temple University. Camp enjoyed a long, successful sales and marketing management career working for Scott Paper Company, Birds Eye Food, Stanson Corporation and the State of Delaware.

In 2009, Camp was selected to be on stage at an event with President-elect Barack Obama in Wilmington, Delaware. He now spends his time working with students with special needs.

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

Orlando Camp

Orlando Camp