Browse by City/ TownBrowse by Subject Browse by HABS Number

About the Collection Use of the Collection About the Project


About the Collection

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was begun in 1935 during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his New Deal. The purpose of the program was to create work for the unemployed during the Great Depression. In addition to building and engineering projects, the WPA also oversaw the work of artists, writers, and photographers who documented the history and landscape of the United States under the Federal Writers Project.

HABS was established in 1933 by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Like the Federal Writers Project under the WPA, HABS was created to give work to unemployed draftsmen, architects, and photographers. The purpose of the photographs and drawings made by employees of the organization was preservation through documentation.

The University of Delaware's Willard Stewart Photographs for the WPA and HABS Collection contains 246 photographs of landscapes and buildings in Delaware. The collection includes images from throughout Delaware, although the greatest number are from New Castle County, with the architecture of New Castle and Wilmington being extremely well represented. In addition to historic buildings, Stewart also documented businesses, factories, farms, waterscapes, and undeveloped land. Most of the photographs are undated. The two that are have dates of 1936 and 1938, which suggests that the rest of the photographs also date to around these years, as does the fact that some of the images appear in WPA publications that came out also in 1936 and 1938. All of the images are black and white gelatin silver prints. See the online finding aid for more information about the collection.

The collection is arranged geographically by county (Kent, New Castle, Sussex), and subsequently by city or vicinity, with images that cannot be attributed to a particular location placed at the end of the collection. The photographs have identifying captions or descriptions written on the back, and many include a number such as "DEL-130" from the classification system used in the HABS catalog (see Historic American Buildings Survey: catalog of the measured drawings and photographs of the survey in the Library of Congress ...).

Three lists are provided on this Web site for browsing the photographs: "Browse by City/Town" presents the collection in the order in which the originals are arranged; there is one link per photograph. Selecting one of the links opens an image and information page, with a medium sized image, the title, caption, city or town, ID number, and HABS number (if any). Clicking on the image opens a larger image view. The "Browse by Subject" page lists several broad subject areas. Selecting one of the subject links opens a page with thumbnail size images. Selecting one of the thumbnail images opens the image and information page. Many of the photographs are listed under more than one subject. A third list, "Browse by HABS Number" provides links to the image and information pages for the photographs of structures with HABS numbers.

Biographical Note

Willard S. Stewart was born February 21, 1915 in Wilmington, Delaware. During the 1930s, he became the primary photographer for the Delaware Federal Writers Project and photographed numerous Delaware buildings and landscapes. Many of these images were published in New Castle on the Delaware (1936) and Delaware: A Guide to the First State (1938), both of which were published by the Delaware Federal Writers' Project. Willard Stewart was also a project photographer for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Additional photographs taken by Willard Stewart of Delaware sites can be seen at "Built In America: HABS/HAER 1933 - Present," part of the Library of Congress's American Memory Web site. Stewart also served as the photographer for other WPA-sponsored projects, including the Index of American Design. Willard Stewart's photographs were also published in M. Thomas Clemons, Wilmington: Wide Is the City (Wilmington, Del. : Hambleton, 1947.)

For the better part of his career, Willard Stewart was one of Wilmington's most prominent professional portrait photographers. He maintained studios at Brecks Mill and 1300 Riverview Avenue in Wilmington until his retirement in the 1980s. In 1955, Willard Stewart was awarded the degree of Master of Photography by the Professional Photographers Association of America. The Masters Degree is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a professional photographer by the Association, and was awarded to Willard Stewart on the basis of excellence in technique and craftsmanship. He was also the recipient of the James B. Schriever Memorial Plaque from the Professional Photographers' Association of Pennsylvania. Willard Stewart was also an influential teacher of photography. He taught classes at the Winona School of Photography, in Winona, Indiana. He also lectured extensively at photographic seminars throughout New England and Canada. Willard Stewart died on July 12, 2003.


Willard S. Stewart Obituary. The News Journal. Wilmington, July 16, 2003. B5 - Retrieved Feburary 5, 2004 from

"Welcome to the Willard Stewart Studio." Retrieved February 5, 2004 from Inactive March 2005.

United States. National Park Service. Historic American Buildings Survey: catalog of the measured drawings and photographs of the survey in the Library of Congress, January 1, 1938 / compiled by John P. O'Neill. Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 1938.

Built In America: Historic American Buidling Survey/Historic American Engineering Record: 1933 - Present. Library of Congress: American Memory. Retrieved October 15, 2003 from

Use of the Collection

By digitizing the Willard Stewart Collection and making the photographs available online, the University of Delaware Library hopes to enhance access to this collection and also to make searching for specific images and subjects easier and more fruitful. The originals are housed in the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library. Researchers interested in viewing the original photographs should contact the Special Collections Department.

The guidelines listed below explain the policies governing use of the postcards for education, research, and publication.

Use for Educational Purposes, Personal Research and General Interest

Images that will be used for teaching or for personal study or research may be printed or downloaded from the Web site without prior permission. Any images used for these purposes should cite the Collection, using the following format:

Willard Stewart. [Title of Photograph]. Willard Stewart Photographs for the WPA and HABS Collection. University of Delaware Library. Newark, Delaware.

Publishing Materials from the Collection

Researchers must contact the Library to request permission to use materials in any manner other than those described above. Persons wishing to publish this material must assume all responsibility for satisfying any claimants of copyright or other use restrictions. Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from a Special Collections librarian. The letter of application should specify the materials to be reproduced and the publication in which they will be used. The Special Collections Department reserves the right to charge a fee for the use of images from its collections. Publication fees cover nonexclusive, one-time, use of a single image unless otherwise indicated.

Write to:

Special Collections Department
University of Delaware Library
Newark, DE 19717-5267

or contact the Special Collections Department online.

For additional information on the Special Collection Department's policies, please visit

Requesting Reproductions

Requests for photographic reproductions of materials in the collection should be directed to a Special Collections librarian. Please specify the photograph intended for reproduction. We will be able to inform you of any reproduction restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

About the Project

The Web site, "Willard Stewart Photographs for the WPA & HABS," was made possible through the generous support of the Unidel Foundation, which provided funding for equipment and project staff. The project was completed in July 2003.

Project staff: Elise Calvi, Head, Preservation Department; Laura Cochrane, Assistant Librarian, Special Collections; Patricia Kleinot, Imaging Project Assistant; and Erika Suffern, Imaging Project Assistant. The Web site was designed and created by Patricia Kleinot.

Copyright © 2003 University of Delaware Library
This page is maintained by
Special Collections
Last modified: April 8, 2005