Delaware Genealogical Society Logo
Spacer

Sources

This section desribes sources of genealogy records in Delaware.  It is only available to members.  Here is the information that is covered in the Sources section.

Why not consider joining the Delaware Genealogical Society and take advantage of this valuable resource?

Contents

Delaware History
Genealogical Timeline
Records Availability Timeline
Family Genealogies
Indian Genealogy
Black Genealogy
Vital Records
Church and Cemetery Records
Government Records
Newspapers
City and State Directories
Booklist
Other Sources

Delaware History

Understanding the history of Delaware can help with genealogy research in Delaware. Knowing what events occurred at the time your ancestors were alive can explain why they lived the way they did and explain the effect these historical events had on their lives.

This section contains a list of books about Delaware history and the repositories and libraries where the books are available. The Delaware Histories booklist is only one of many booklists available to members.

The settlement of Delaware was foreseeable because of its location on a peninsula with easy access by rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. Its settlements, borders, and history were directly influenced by wars waged by the kings of Europe. Each wanted more power than could be gained from conquering new lands in Europe. The allure of untapped riches in the New World encouraged these kings to support settlements and exploration. Conflicts between European kings burdened by their accrued debts played a distinct role in the current borders of the state.

Henry Hudson, sailing under the Dutch flag and serving the Dutch East India Company, is credited with discovering Delaware in 1609. Captain Argall, a British Captain, bound for the Virginia colony, claimed Delaware for the colonial governor of Virginia, Baron De La Warr. From this early beginning came the name for the state, Delaware. Delaware was claimed by Sweden, the Netherlands, and Great Britain.

Charles II claimed an area that he named Pennsylvania and he granted it to William Penn. This grant of 1681 established the northern border of what was to become Delaware. To assure the land to the south would not be taken from the Duke of York who was his brother, the grant specified the land to Penn be bounded by a northern circumference of twelve miles from the spire of the courthouse in New Castle Town. This requirement dictated the shape of the northern border.

In 1682 the Duke of York granted to Penn what was called then the "Lower Three Counties of Pennsylvania." These counties were subsequently divided into hundreds, which would contain "one hundred souls." It was assumed that each family would have approximately ten family members including servants. This became a unit of measure of the population. After 1865 the Delaware legislature decided there would be no more than thirty-three hundred regardless of the population.

Delaware began self-rule in 1704. This was due to convenience and seemed prudent as it was so distant from the Pennsylvania seat of government. The three counties developed their own county seat for ease of governance and managing legal affairs. The long standing border dispute between the Calvert family of Maryland and the Penn family was decided by a survey completed between the years of 1763 to 1768 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. For many areas in the lower county and the western border of the middle county genealogists will find that grants and deeds were approved between the Maryland government and the individual. The eastern border with New Jersey still remains in conflict. Throughout the decades this dispute has gone to the court but there has been no definitive resolution. See the next section for a detailed list of historical events that are related to genealogical research.

Top of Page

Genealogical Timeline

Delaware documents are not always found in Delaware. The Genealogical Timeline is a list of historical events that are related to genealogical research. Additional information about the Genealogical Timeline requires membership in the Society.

Learn More

Records Availability Timeline

After you determine when your family was in Delaware members can use this timeline to learn of some of the common records that are available for that time period. Additional information about the Records Availability Timline requires membership in the society.

Learn More

Family Genealogies

Many compiled genealogies of Delaware families exist. This section contains a list of the books containing family genealogies and at what repositories and libraries the books are available. It also describes some of the more important books. The Family Genealogies booklist is only one of many booklists available to members. The section also includes links to the many articles available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal containing family genealogies.

Learn More

Indian Genealogy

This section includes a list of sources for Indian genealogy and other information about the Indians in Delaware. The section also includes links to articles about the Indians in Delaware available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal.

Learn More

Black Genealogy

This section describes how to find information about African Americans in Delaware. The section also includes links to articles available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal about the African Americans in Delaware.

Learn More

Vital Records

Vital records include birth, marriage, divorce and death records. Official registration of births, marriages and deaths was required at various times but not enforced in Delaware until 1913. This section describes each of the types of vital records and ways to find those types of records in Delaware. The section contains a list of the books about vital records and at what repositories and libraries the books are available. The Vital Records booklist is only one of many booklists available to members.

The section also includes links to the many articles available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal containing information about vital records. It also contains a list of articles that have been published in other local genealogical society journals. Additional information about Vital Records requires Society Membership.

Join the DGS

Learn More

Church and Cemetery Records

Church registers are often the only way to determine birth, marriage and death dates in the years before Delaware kept vital records (1913). They can also supplement probate death records. Cemetery records usually give date of death (or age), and date of birth (or age), plot owners and sometimes the maiden name of women, family relationships and marriages. This section describes the information available in church and cemetery records and ways to find those types of records in Delaware.

This section contains a list of the books about church and cemetery records and at what repositories and libraries the books are available. The Church Records booklist and Cemetery Records booklist are only two of many booklists available to members. The section also includes links to the many articles available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal containing information about church and cemetery records.

This section contains a list of churches and cemeteries. Included in the list is:

  • Location
  • Denomination
  • Date established and date closed
  • Links to any articles that have appeared in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal
  • Repositories or libraries that have records available
  • List of books about the church or cemetery

Churches and cemeteries are listed by location, by name and in chronological order by date established.

Learn More

Top of Page

Government Records

Federal, state and local governments compile records of individuals within their territories (residents, citizens, immigrants) for many reasons. This section describes each of the types of government records in the list below that can help with genealogical research. The section contains a list of the books about government records and at what repositories and libraries the books are available. The section also includes links to the many articles available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal containing government records.

  • Census Records
  • County Records
  • Executive Records
  • Land Records
  • Legislative Records
  • Military Records
  • Miscellaneous County and State Records
  • Naturalization
  • Other Judicial Records
  • Passenger Lists and Immigration Recor
  • Road Records
  • Tax Records
  • Wills, Probates and Orphans' Court Records

Newspapers

Newspapers can be a very valuable resource for genealogical information. Obituaries, marriage and engagement stories, birth announcements, probate court legal notices, news items are just some of the many sources of genealogical information found in newspapers. This section describes how to find newspaper sources of genealogical information in Delaware. Some of Delaware's many newspapers have been indexed and published. This section contains a list of these indexes. It also contains a list of books that have more information about sources of genealogical information from newspapers as well as the repositories and libraries where the books are available.

Learn More

City and State Directories

Directories give name, address and occupation of nearly every adult male resident of a community. Generally, women are listed only if a widow living alone; however, beginning in 1896 the Wilmington city directories included the wife's name. This section lists and describes the city and state directories available and at which repositories and libraries the directories are available. The section also includes links to the articles available in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal containing information about city and state directories. 

Learn more

Top of Page

Booklist

This section lists valuable books, journals and articles for those researching Delaware genealogy. They are listed by subject areas. The list includes the title, author and publication information about each book. It also lists at which repositories and libraries the book is available. The subject areas are listed below.

 

Other Sources

This section lists articles in the Delaware Genealogical Society Journal that contain lists of people that may contain information such as name, residence, birth, death, medical conditions, etc. Some examples of these lists are employees of companies, student lists at private colleges, lists of members of societies, private school registers, hospital admissions records, etc.

Top of Page