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  Archived Posts From: 2012


Searching for Your Family Roots in the 1940 Census

Written on: March 29th, 2012 in Blog PostsDelaware HistoryEvents at the ArchivesResearch Room

Looking for help in finding a parent, grandparent, or other relative in the soon to be released 1940 United States Census? The Delaware Public Archives can help!On Saturday, April 7, 10:30 a.m. the Delaware Public Archives will present a program about the 1940 Census featuring Jefferson M. Moak, Senior Archivist with the National Archives & Records Administration, Mid-Atlantic Region. Because the U.S. Census is confidential for 72 years, the 1940 Census will be available to researchers for the first time in April. While the U.S. Census, recorded every ten years, has traditionally been viewed as an extremely valuable genealogical tool, there are changes and differences each time it is conducted and recorded. The Delaware Public Archives is sponsoring this special program in order to help genealogists and researchers get a head start on what this census can provide.

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I Just Got My License!!!

Written on: March 27th, 2012 in Blog Posts

Growing up in Pennsylvania, the only indication that a new driver was behind the wheel was a nervous parent sitting in the front passenger seat or some less-than-confident moves on the road. When I moved to Delaware and began seeing “Novice Driver” stickers affixed to cars, I couldn’t help but like them. What a great way to communicate with other drivers that you need a little extra consideration while you’re mastering the rules of the road. Now, according to the DMV’s website, it’s not mandatory for people with a graduated driver’s license to sport a “Novice Driver” magnet or sticker, but it’s definitely a great tool for keeping everyone safe and aware. It might not seem like the coolest car accessory, but don’t sweat it. We all had to go through the learning process. And hey, it could be worse…

Drivers Education Car 1950s

While organizing our Board of Education photo collection, I came across this shot from Newark High School. Perhaps the “Novice Driver” sticker isn’t quite so bad after all. I also discovered driver education annual reports from 1947 to 1965 and correspondence from 1951 from the 6th Annual National Drivers’ Education  Award Program in our Department of Public Instruction records. I found a “Brief Historical Sketch of Driver Education in Delaware, 1935-1968” in the State Reports collection.

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Was That A Delaware Record I Just Saw?!?

Written on: March 16th, 2012 in Research Room



A Unique Honeymoon

So I was watching TV last night and an commercial came on.  It was a woman talking about how she was looking for information on her grandmother and lo and behold she found her marriage record.  To my surprise the next image they showed was a Delaware marriage certificate that Ancestry had digitized from our collection.

Did you know that Delaware residents can now use their Delaware Library Card to log in to the Delaware page on By using your card you can have free access ONLY to the records Ancestry has digitized for the Delaware Public Archives. These records include Births up to 1908, Marriages up to 1933, Deaths up to 1933, and Naturalizations from 1796-1850. Coming soon will be Land Records from 1677-1947, and Will Books from 1683-1947.  For more information view our instructions on the Digital Ancestry page on our website.

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The Storm of March 1962

Written on: March 2nd, 2012 in Research Room

Rehoboth damage March 1962

The Delaware Public Archives is commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, a powerful Northeaster that affected the mid-Atlantic March 6th – 8th, with a virtual exhibit.

Among DPA’s holdings are many incredible historical documents, photographs and films that tell of tragedy and the perseverance of Delawareans to restore the state to its pre-storm condition. The mighty storm brought waves in excess of 40 feet that damaged property along Delaware’s Atlantic and Delaware Bay coasts. Post-storm aerial films  recoded by the State Police Commission survey the destruction of beaches, homes, businesses, roadways, and extensive inland flooding.

The Governor’s Papers Collection from 1962 includes telegram correspondence with President John F. Kennedy. In these documents, Governor Carvel describes the aftermath of the storm and requests that the President not only declare emergency status along the Delaware coast from Fenwick Island to Delaware City, but also 5 miles inland. Carvel estimates the cost of damage in Delaware to be $50 million (approximately $357 million today). Governor Carvel’s papers further detail the combined effort of local groups, government agencies and federal manpower in cleanup efforts through letters, financial documents and memos.

Photographs featured on the official Public Archives Facebook page  show the extreme damage of the storm in detail. Battered homes lifted off their foundations and precariously tipped toward washed out beaches. Images of the Rehoboth Boardwalk ripped apart; its planks piled up like toothpicks against the businesses that once lined the popular summer attraction. Additionally, newspaper articles and photographs in our collection further report on the aftermath with breaking news and before and after photos.

Explore one of the greatest storms ever to hit the mid-Atlantic from your computer and come in to see even more fantastic pieces of history here at the Delaware Public Archives.



What Really Happened to Amelia Earhart?

Written on: February 24th, 2012 in Blog PostsEvents at the ArchivesPhotographsResearch Room

On Saturday, March 3, 10:30 a.m., Richard E. Gillespie, Executive Director of TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery), based in Wilmington, Delaware, will be presenting a program at the Delaware Public Archives entitled “What Really Happened to Amelia Earhart?”  2012 marks the 75th anniversary of her disappearance. In 1937, Amelia Earhart set out to be the first person to circle the globe by air in the area close to the equator. On July 2, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan failed to arrive as planned on Howland Island in the Central Pacific.  Since that time, their disappearance has become one of the most baffling mysteries of the 20th century.   At the time of her disappearance, Amelia Earhart was arguably the most famous woman of her generation and is, even today, certainly the most well-known woman aviator of all time.  It is known that Amelia Earhart made at least one stop in Delaware, in March 1929, to consider purchasing a plane from the Bellanca Company based near the town of New Castle.

This program will reveal the findings this non-profit group has uncovered since it inaugurated the Earhart Project in 1988. The group is dedicated to investigating the Earhart/Noonan disappearance according to accepted academic standards and sound scientific methodology.

The presenter, Richard E. Gillespie, founded The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery in 1985 and has served as the Executive Director of TIGHAR since its inception.  A former accident investigator and risk manager for the aviation insurance industry, Gillespie is the author of the book, Finding Amelia – The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance.

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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The African-American Educational Journey In Delaware

Written on: February 2nd, 2012 in Blog PostsResearch Room

Townsend School May 1951

Today Governor Markell was here at the archives to commemorate Black History Month by reading the official proclamation.  This year was particularly special as Orlando Camp was here to talk about his new book The Milford Eleven.  The Archives unveiled its newest display about African-American education in Delaware.  Included in the exhibit are facsimiles of historic legislation, educational directories, school insurance evaluations, information on the Delaware schools that were involved with the Brown Vs. the Board of Education court case, information on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s only visit to Delaware, and lots of photographs.

Why not come and see the exhibit and then stop by the Mabel Lloyd Ridgely Research Room to see what other information we have.

To put a hold on a copy of Orlando’s new book, visit the Delaware library catalog or your local library.

To learn more about African American history in Delaware you can download 3 free eBooks.

To see more photographs, visit the album on our Facebook page.

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The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II

Written on: January 27th, 2012 in Blog PostsDelaware HistoryEvents at the ArchivesResearch Room

On Saturday, February 4, 10:30 a.m., the Delaware Public Archives, in one of its planned activities to celebrate Black History Month, is hosting a program entitled “The Tuskegee Airmen.”  During the Second World War, a question was raised and answered conclusively in a noble experiment that later became known as the “Tuskegee Experience.” Our nation’s first African-American military aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen, are remembered in this presentation designed to tell their story and reveal the significance of their achievements. Presented by Brigadier General Ernest George Talbert (Retired, USAF), this program will also include information about the achievements of other African-American warriors and civilian aviators who preceded the “Tuskegee Experience.”

Brigadier General Ernest George Talbert (Retired, USAF) is the first African-American general in the long history of the Delaware National Guard.  He is the immediate past president of the John H. Porter, First State Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. General Talbert is a Command Pilot with over 6500 flying hours including combat hours in Operation Desert Storm and the Balkans conflict. Upon his retirement in January 2009 he accepted a state promotion to the rank of Major General. A product of the Delaware public school system, he received a B.A. in Economics from New York University in 1972 and an MBA from the University of Delaware in 1983.

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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Honey, Grab Your Coat. We’re Going For A Ride On The New Bridge!

Written on: January 20th, 2012 in Research Room

Indian River Bridge 1935

If you’ve been reading the papers you saw that the Indian River Inlet bridge finally opened today.  With all the attention it’s been getting, we had some people from the area stop by to see what we had on the previous bridges that were there.  They were surprised that we had information on all 3 former bridges as well as a photograph of the area before there was a bridge.

To see more photos of all the Indian River inlet bridges, view our Facebook album.



Martin Luther King Jr.

Written on: January 13th, 2012 in Blog Posts

Every year we commemorate the achievements and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. When Dr. King spoke to the packed audience in the Howard High School auditorium on September 12, 1960, he delivered a message of patience and persistence. “Protest, yes, but with dignity and discipline to achieve our goals,” said King in this newspaper clipping from the News Journal.  News Journal Article on Martin Luther King Jr.’s only visit to Delaware on September 13, 1960.cpy

Dr. King’s first and only visit is just a small part of Delaware’s history during the civil rights movement. Did you know that Brown vs. The Board of Education is actually comprised of 5 cases, one of which was from Delaware? These cases were unsuccessfully tried in lower courts then appealed to the Supreme Court where they were combined to create Brown vs. The Board of Education. The case from Delaware, which began as two cases before being combined, involved a one-roomed school house in Hockessin and Howard High School in Wilmington, where Dr. King spoke on his visit. In both cases, students traveled nearly an hour to attend schools that were not equal in resources.

Many documents, photos and recordings from the civil rights movement in Delaware can be found here at the Delaware Public Archives. Notable collections include photographs, recordings from NAACP and NAAWP rallies, legislation addressing segregation laws, newspaper collections, court records from Evans vs. Buchanan (relating to segregation in Wilmington schools), and documents addressing segregation and desegregation of schools from the Department of Public Instruction.

Dr. King had a dream that still lives on today. Stop by and examine documents pertaining to that dream here at the Delaware Public Archives.

Howard High School



The War of 1812 Comes to Lewes

Written on: January 3rd, 2012 in Blog PostsDelaware HistoryEvents at the ArchivesPhotographsResearch Room

On Saturday, January 7, 10:30 a.m., Mike DiPaolo, Executive Director of the Lewes Historical Society, will be presenting a program at the Delaware Public Archives entitled “The War of 1812 Comes to Lewes.”  With the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 taking place in 2012, this program will address the 1813 attack on Lewes by the British Royal Navy. In March 1813, the Royal Navy established a blockade of the Delaware Bay and River.  The British squadron began to conduct raids along the coast in an effort to disrupt maritime commerce and shipping. After Delaware authorities refused a demand to provide supplies, the British ships took up bombardment positions close to the town of Lewes. From April 6th into the 7th, Lewes was shelled for twenty-two hours, with the British firing as many as 800 projectiles into the town.

Mr. DiPaolo has been the Executive Director for the Lewes Historical Society for 10 years and recently won the 2011 Nancy Hanks Memorial Award for Professional Excellence from the American Association of Museums. This honor is awarded to people who have been outstanding in museum work, and have been in the field for less than 10 years. A graduate of The College of Wooster in Ohio, DiPaolo earned a Masters Degree in Library Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2007, DiPaolo was chosen as the Delaware Tourism Person of the Year.

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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