Overview of Records in Delaware

Delaware documents are not always found in Delaware. Documents before 1682, when Delaware was governed from a distance, can be found in many places, including the archives of New York, Sweden, and The Netherlands. 

For research between 1682 and 1775, when Delaware’s boundaries reached their present configuration, look for records both in Delaware and in other states’ archives, including those of Maryland and Pennsylvania, due primarily to the long battle waged between the Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland for control of much of current Delaware. (Refer to Delaware in 1775 and Earlier.)  

Even after 1775, families often migrated more than once within the Delmarva Peninsula and into neighboring states. You can find more information about the historical events that affected the availability of genealogical records in Delaware History Timeline

Where to Look for Delaware Records

TimeframeLook for records in:
Before 1682Archives of New York, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Delaware
1682-1775Delaware and in other states’ archives, including those of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania
After 1775Delaware, the Delmarva Peninsula, other areas of Maryland, New Jersey, and southeastern Pennsylvania

After you determine when your family was in Delaware, use the Record Availability Timeline below, to identify some of the common records available for that time period.  

The left end of the bar represents the first date the records were available. The right end of the bar represents the last date the records were available. Records with a bar that extends to 1940 are still available today. Some gaps are shown, but for many years in between, records were either not taken or do not survive.  Details about these records and where to find them are in the following chapters: 

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