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  Archived Posts From: 2012


Searching Church Records for Your Family History

Written on: July 24th, 2012 in Delaware HistoryEvents at the ArchivesInside the DPAResearch Room

On Saturday, August 4 at 10:30 a.m., Nancy Lyons will present a program at the Delaware Public Archives on how to use church records to research your family tree. Documents such as baptism, marriage, death and interment records, as well as church membership information can provide some of the earliest genealogical data available. Most importantly, these sources can fill in the blanks of vital records long before state governments required registration of births, marriages and deaths. This workshop will demonstrate how to use these records when conducting family research.

This is the second in a series of genealogy workshops presented by Nancy Lyons, a highly respected genealogist whose programs have been well received by beginners and advanced genealogists alike. This workshop will include information that will be helpful to those who are searching for information in Delaware and in other states as well.  Other upcoming workshops in this series will include topics such as naturalization papers and American passenger arrival lists.

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 served as a volunteer at the Mormon Family History Center in Wilmington for 17 years. She has also been the chair of the Delaware Genealogical Society Educational Committee for the last seven years.

The program is free to the public. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Jessica Carmichael (302) 744-5081 or e-mail

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Tweet All About It

Written on: July 6th, 2012 in Research Room

A guy stopped by the other day to see the 1957 William C. Jason yearbook we tweeted about.  Yup, you heard that right, we tweeted.  The Archives has now entered the exciting world of Twitter.  We post events, the photo of the day, and just really cool stuff about the archives.  Go behind the scenes with the archivists to see things we find while we are processing or when new accessions walk through the door.  Interact with us as we tweet from historic marker dedications, school programs, and tours. So why not follow @DEPublicArchive and be the first to find out about all the new exciting things we have going on.


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The War of 1812 Comes to the Delaware Public Archives

Written on: June 28th, 2012 in Delaware History

       2012 marks the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. An exhibit about this war sometimes referred to as the Second Revolutionary War in America, will be put on display at the Delaware Public Archives starting June18th. The exhibit will present some of the Archive’s finest documents relating to the war, along with highlighting a few of Delaware’s heroes who bravely defended our great state. In the war that would inspire Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner and see the White House in flames, the small state of Delaware would contribute much to the defense of the nation. Delaware’s brave men and women helped stave off a British attack in the town of Lewes, render a devastating defeat on the British fleet on Lake Champlain, and contributed to ending the war through the Treaty of Ghent. Come see more about these events and much more about Delaware’s role in the war at the Delaware Public Archives. If you see the exhibit and want more, check out our links to the War of 1812 website along with our free eBooks.

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How Do I Start My Family Tree?

Written on: June 26th, 2012 in Blog PostsDelaware HistoryEvents at the ArchivesResearch Room

Are you ready to put together your family’s genealogy?  On Saturday, July 7, 10:30 a.m., Nancy Lyons will present a program at the Delaware Public Archives on how to begin your family tree. This presentation will provide an excellent starting point for researching your genealogical roots.  Among the numerous types of resources to be discussed are vital statistics, census reports, and probate records. This is the first in a series of genealogy workshops presented by Nancy Lyons, a highly respected genealogist whose programs have been well received by beginners and advanced genealogists alike.  This workshop will include information that will be helpful to those who are searching for information in Delaware and in other states as well.  Other upcoming workshops in this series will include topics such as church records, naturalization papers, and American passenger arrival lists.

 Nancy Lyons is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Genealogical Society.  The

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Delaware Public Archives Introduces Spanish Speakers to Vast Collection through YouTube

Written on: June 12th, 2012 in Blog PostsEvents at the ArchivesInside the DPAResearch Room

The Delaware Public Archives (DPA) is reaching out to native Spanish speakers to let them know what resources and services DPA provides.  To that end, DPA has produced a new Spanish-language video, as part of its Inside the Delaware Public Archives series. It can be viewed on DPA’s YouTube channel at  Between 1990 and 2008, the number of people speaking Spanish at home in Delaware more than tripled (from 15,302 to 47,614).  “This is a creative way to reach the growing number of people speaking Spanish at home in Delaware who want to learn more about our state’s history, as well as the useful documents which can be found at the Public Archives,” said Governor Jack Markell.   The video, as with the other 13 videos in the Archives series, is less than three minutes long and is intended to be a basic introduction to resources and services which can be further explored by visiting or contacting DPA. The Archives’ next Spanish language video will focus on Delaware’s role as the First State.

“I felt that our very successful YouTube series would be the best vehicle to provide this useful information to Delawareans who might prefer to access it in Spanish,” said Director Stephen Marz.  Without a fluent Spanish speaker on staff, the Delaware Public Archives recruited Patty VanSant – a native of Chile who has lived in Dover for the last six years – to present the information in the video.  In her presentation, Mrs. VanSant focuses on three types of records: vital statistics, education records, and migrant records.  Vital statistical records may be needed for passports, pensions, Medicaid and other government benefits, as well as personal IDs. Education and migrant records may provide critical student information such as transcripts, immunization documents, SAT scores, and Certificates of Eligibility (COEs) which determine eligibility for migrant resources.  The Archives video series was a finalist for the National Association of Secretaries of State’s 2012 IDEAS (Innovation, Dedication, Excellence & Achievement in Service) Award.  All of the videos were produced in-house from script writing to filming to posting.  

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The Star-Spangled Banner Project

Written on: May 22nd, 2012 in Events at the ArchivesResearch Room

With the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812 being observed in 2012, the Delaware Public Archives will be hosting a program entitled “The Star Spangled Banner Project” on Saturday, June 2, 10:30 a.m. This program will be presented by Suzanne Thomassen-Krauss, Senior Textile Conservator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. 

 As Chief Conservator for this project at the Smithsonian Institution, Thomassen-Krauss headed the treatment program for an important American historical treasure: the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore following the British bombardment in September 1814.  It was seeing this flag in the morning following the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to the National Anthem.  Included in this presentation will be information about the history of the flag, the actual treatment process, and the efforts of the Smithsonian to preserve it in a custom designed display. 

Thomassen-Krauss received her Master of Science in Art Conservation and Certificate in Textile Conservation from the University of Delaware/H. F. duPont Winterthur Program and her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

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

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There Was A Lighthouse Near Dover?!!

Written on: May 17th, 2012 in Delaware HistoryPhotographsResearch Room

Actually there have been five lighthouses at Port Mahon to guide ships and waterman on the Delaware Bay.  The first was built in 1831 and because of erosion, a series of replacements were built.  The last lighthouse was built in 1903 and lasted until 1984.  Recently processed, the Delaware Technical and Community College Photograph Collection has an excellent series of photos of this last Port Mahon lighthouse.  Taken by the Del Tech photographer, Al Vietri, these photos are now available to the public.  During the 1970s, Del Tech was interested in purchasing the Port Mahon buildings and dock areas for use in a marine science program.  Mr. Vietri scouted the area documenting both the real estate and the natural habitat, including the lighthouse.  This is fortunate for posterity, because a few years later the lighthouse burned and only the pilings survive today.

Port Mahon Lighthouse

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And They’re Off!!!

Written on: May 2nd, 2012 in Research Room

Delaware Park Home-Stretch

With all the excitement about the Kentucky Derby, we had some people stop by to see if we had anything relating to thoroughbred racing in Delaware.  They loved looking at all the old photographs from Delaware Park.  They reviewed state reports, administrative files from the Department of Agriculture on the Thoroughbred Racing Commission and scrapbooks and newspaper clippings.  They got a list of commission members and even looked at legislation relating to horse racing. They were so amazed at the early apprentice indentures for harness making and trimming.

To view more pictures of thoroughbred racing in Delaware, view our album on Facebook.

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Delaware Public Archives to Feature Tour and Display of Dover Photographs

Written on: April 30th, 2012 in Delaware HistoryEvents at the ArchivesPhotographsResearch Room

If you were born, married, or attended public school in Delaware, eventually the Delaware Public Archives will have a record of you. As part of the Dover Days celebration, the staff of the Delaware Public Archives will conduct a tour of the facility on Saturday, May 5, at 1:30 p.m.   This annual “behind the scenes” tour of the building offers the public a rare opportunity to learn more about the role of the Archives, 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 Delaware’s Bill of Rights which is on display until July 2 of this year.  The tour is free to the public.  No reservations are required. 

 Along with the tour, the Delaware Public Archives will be celebrating Dover Days by displaying a series of the Dover photographs in its lobby from its collection of more than 800,000 images. This display will feature photographs of the Capital City from the early to mid-twentieth century.

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The Old Courts of Delaware

Written on: April 17th, 2012 in Research Room

If you have been reading the newspapers lately or watching the news, you know that Delaware has a scheduled execution for April 20th.  We had some curious citizens stop in to see if we had any information or documents about past executions.

They started by looking at our newspaper collection. Next they looked in our general reference files for Capital Punishment. That sparked their interest in the courts.  For instance, from colonial times until 1951, a serious criminal case was heard by the Court of General Sessions

If it was deemed worthy of capital punishment, the case then went to the Court of Oyer and Terminer.

They were also surprised to learn that the Secretary of State served as the Clerk of the Court for the Court of Appeals.  They couldn’t believe all the old courts that no longer exist.  

To learn more about early courts in Delaware you can visit our agency histories page. To see the various types of records we have for the courts use our online guide and do a key word search for “court.”

Old Court House in New Castle

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