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UD Special Collections > Exhibitions > Little Known Histories of Newark, 1758-2008


1856 image of Newark
Depot Road leading north to Newark with Old College in site,
a view depicting the close proximity of farms to the heart of town.
Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore railroad guide.
Philadelphia : T. Fitzgibbon, c1856.

NewArk arose from the crossroads of two Lenni Lenape Indian trails which spanned the peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River, and connected the lower peninsula with the northern hills of later-day Pennsylvania. As Europeans - mainly English, Welsh, and Scots-Irish - came to the area in the early eighteenth century, the same intersecting crossroads gradually matured into a village, with brickyards, mills, and tanneries developing in the vicinity. Newark was first chartered on April 13, 1758, by King George II of England, when he granted permission for the growing village to hold a weekly market and a semi-annual fair.

Though still considered a small town in 2008 with a permanent population under 30,000, Newark's history of growth and change since 1758 is a reflection of significant developments in the history of many American cities over the last 250 years. The founders' early religious heritage, development of natural resources, industrial growth with adoption of technology, the impact of transportation, suburban growth, and civic participation are components of Newark's history typical of many other American towns.

Mayor Vance Funk III, City of Newark, spearheaded several celebratory events in 2008 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Newark's first charter. Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library is pleased to contribute to the University's support for recognition of this significant milestone. The Delaware Collection, located in Special Collections, features significant print, manuscripts, photographs, maps, oral histories, business ephemera, and other primary sources related to the local history of Newark. The curators of this exhibition have selected several hundred items from these rich and varied collections to illustrate Newark's history.

This online exhibition represents a walk-through of the Special Collections Gallery exhibition which was on display from February 19-June 20, 2008. Several themes were interpreted in the gallery, many of them topically intersecting. Perhaps most important is Newark's sense of place, with geography and environment influencing historical changes over the last 250 years.

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