In 1609, a Dutch explorer named Henry Hudson discovered Delaware. In 1610, Delaware was named by Captain Samuel Argall. He named it after Thomas West, Baron De La Warr, who was the governor of the colony at the time. In 1631, the Dutch attempt to settle the region failed.
Then, in 1638, New Sweden was founded by the Swedish where Wilmington now stands. However, Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherlands, led troops that took it over in 1655. In 1664, the area again changed hands when William Penn took over the Lower Three Counties in 1682 for Great Britain. Delaware fought as a state during the Revolutionary War.
Delaware entered the union as the 1st state on December 7, 1787. It has 3 Counties.
Then, in 1787, it was the very first state to ratify the United States Constitution. Delaware was considered to be a slave state when the Civil War was fought. However, unlike several other slave states, it didn’t officially secede from the United States during the conflict.
How to Search for Delaware Genealogy Data
Delaware is one of the smallest states, but it is packed with history. It has played a role in the United States since its earliest days, and because of this there are many museums, historical societies, and smaller local organizations that can serve as treasure troves to those looking for Delaware genealogy.
Since the state of Delaware is so small, it’s not surprising that it has only 3 counties. Some of the counties do have microfilmed records on file, but many of the country records are held at the Delaware State Archives. The offices of the county recorder of deeds holds land conveyance records. The register of wills holds estate records from 1925 onward. The prothonotary clerk holds civil and criminal court records and divorce records up until 1975.
Effective Ways to Look for Delaware Genealogy Materials – Anyone beginning to search for Delaware genealogy data is going to quickly discover that they don’t have to leave home to do it! They can use many of the state’s online resources to begin scouting around for the materials needed. Because there are so many resources online, however, it does not mean that everything has been made digital.
Though many groups have websites with strong databases, not all have yet been able to afford to tackle such a project. This means that anyone doing research for a Delaware genealogy project is also going to have learn about the offline sites they may need to visit. This means that it is extremely useful to familiarize yourself with the tools that researchers use for Delaware genealogy, and how to determine which are online and which are not.
Some of the most frequently used resources for Delaware genealogy are public records, and they are found in the following groupings:
- State Records – from probate information to private manuscripts, surname lists, newspapers, state census information, marriage details, military or veterans information, land records, maps, estate information, genealogical folders, death records, deeds, birth certificates, cemetery information and more. These are available as online and offline resources for Delaware genealogy.
- Local Records – good research begins in the county clerk’s office or website, and only then moves on to the local genealogical societies, small local libraries, historical societies, and school or college libraries for Delaware genealogy data. These are things that are usually offline and viewable by appointment or through special arrangements.
- Vital Records – these include the basic birth, marriage, divorce and death records from county, state, and national archives. These can also contain cemetery or obituary information, census records, newspaper items, military records, immigration and naturalization details, passenger lists and records as well. These are available as online and offline resources for Delaware genealogy.