On February 2 at 10:30 a.m., the Delaware Public Archives will, as part of its celebration of African American History month, be hosting a program by Syl Woolford of Newark entitled “The History of Black Methodism in Delaware.”
John Wesley, in his vision of the Methodist Episcopal Church, established a denomination in which all human beings were considered equal. When his disciples Francis Asbury, Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Coke came to America to convert the early Americans to Methodism, they included the plantations and the slaves as part of their circuit rides.
Slaves accounted for 25 percent of the converts to early Methodism. This story of early African-American preachers such as Richard Allen, Peter Spencer, Absalom Jones, “Daddy” Moses and Harry Hosier riding from camp meeting to camp meeting and then creating some of the great Methodist denominations of today is a part of history that is studied and celebrated.
A native of Delaware, Syl Woolford is a graduate of Delaware State University and Rutgers University. Recently retired from a career in accounting and sales, Woolford’s interest in history began with researching his own family history. He traced his mother’s family, the Saunders Family, for 200 years in the city of Newark, Delaware. Most recently, Mr. Woolford has traced the Woolford side of his family back to Dorchester County, Maryland and made a connection with Harriet Tubman’s legendary efforts in freeing slaves in Dorchester County.
The program is free to the public. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Tuesday we will swear in another Governor which means the Archives is getting the Official State Bible ready. The Bible is from 1532 and its origin is undocumented, however, legend says it was a gift to Delaware from France. The Bible was printed in Paris by Robert Stephens (Stepheni). It was part of the State Library collection that came to the State Archives early in the 20th Century and has been used in all but 1 inauguration since 1847.
Last Saturday’s (Jan. 5) program at the Delaware Public Archives about preservation of documents and photographs was extremely well received. However, a large number of citizens contacted the Archives to say they couldn’t make it to the presentation. We have attached links to both of the prezi programs presented by Archives staff member Sarah Denison and Government Information Center Deputy Director Mike Mahaffie. Please be aware that these programs were presented along with verbal information provided by the speakers.
If you’ve ever been to the Delaware Public Archives to do genealogical research or to work on that historical novel you’ve been toying with you might have noticed that the materials you’re looking at have been scanned or organized neatly into folders. This does not happen magically and the documents certainly do not come to us the way they are presented to the public. There are actually many people behind the scenes that work constantly to take collections that are literally “wrapped in government red tape” and make them easy for researchers to access. One collection that is currently undergoing processing is the Kent County Superior Court Case Files. These documents range from 1831 when the Superior Court was created until the 1950s. The collection is quite large and the condition of the documents varies by year. Most case files are completely covered in what is most likely coal dust. We try our best to clean the documents using cleaning sponges. These are not your typical household sponges, however. They more closely resemble an eraser and they work about the same way. Some documents never get fully cleaned and most of the time my hands look a lot like a mechanic’s after his third oil change of the day. When I got to the year 1905 however, something caught my eye; something colorful. Folded up a few times and torn slightly, was the Marriage Certificate shown below. This was used during divorce proceedings and even has “Exhibit A” written on the back. When you deal with old documents all day as an archivist or researcher, it is nice to stumble across something like this from time to time. We’ll just try to ignore the fact that it was in a divorce file. Okay, so it isn’t diamonds or gold, but you just never know what you’ll find here at the Archives and that curiosity keeps us going.