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Contents

Brief History

The following important events in the history of Delaware affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.

  • 1631:  New Netherland Dutch build fort at Zwaanendael (Lewes, Sussex, Delaware).
  • 1638:  New Sweden Swedes and Finns begins settling in the Fort Christina (Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware) area.
  • 1664:  New Netherland including Delaware became a British colony as part of an Anglo-Dutch war.
  • 1682-1776:  Pennsylvania's governor assumes control of Delaware over the objections of Maryland's claims as far north as Philadelphia. Delaware had its own provincial assembly after 1703.
  • 1684-1736:  The colonial government of Maryland laid claim to southern and western Delaware.
  • 1776:  Delaware declared its independence from Britain and established a government separate from that of Pennsylvania.
  • 1787:  (December 7,) Delaware became the first state.
  • 1861-1865:  During the Civil War, Delaware was a Union state.

Historical Content

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies.

  • A Bibliography of American County Histories [1]
  • United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress [2]

State Histories Useful to Genealogists

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the lauditory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. One of the best sources for studying Delaware history is:

  • History of Delaware, 1609-1888. [3] An excellent, detailed history with names, dates, and places.

Scharf's book is indexed in: Index to History of Delaware, 1609-1888 [4]

United States History

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available at most large libraries:

  • The Almanac of American History, [5]This provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium [6] This includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed [7] This includes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations.

To find more books and articles about Delaware 's history use the Internet Google search for phases like "Delaware history." Family History Library Catalog Surname Search lists many more histories under topics like:

DELAWARE - HISTORY
DELAWARE. [COUNTY] - HISTORY
DELAWARE, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - HISTORY
DELAWARE, BIBLIOGRAPHY

Web Sites

Sources

  1. Filby, P. William. A Bibliography of American County Histories. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985. (FHL book 973 H23bi)
  2. Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76. (FHL book 973 A3ka.)
  3. Scharf, John Thomas. History of Delaware, 1609-1888. Two volumes. Tucson, Arizona: W. C. Cox, 1974. (Family History Library film 1000154.)
  4. Coghlan, Gladys M. Index to History of Delaware, 1609-1888. Wilmington, Delaware: Historical Society of Delaware, 1976. (Family History Library book 975.1 H2s index; fiche 6088424-26.)
  5. Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983. (FHL book 973 H2alm)
  6. Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. Springfield, Mass.: G&C Merriam, 1971. (FHL book 973 H2v)
  7. Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. (FHL book 973 H2ad.)

 

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