University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Delaware Colonial Currency
Delaware Colonial Currency


The Delaware Collection is a constantly-evolving collection which strives to document all aspects of history and life in Delaware from the prehistoric period and earliest plans for settlement by the Swedes in 1624 to contemporary life. The collection includes the history, culture, domestic, business, and social aspects of Delaware as documented in correspondence, manuscripts, legal documents, diaries, journals, account books and ledgers, maps, printed ephemera, family papers, business records, archival material, photographs and graphic materials, and miscellaneous items.

The Delaware Collection encompasses all geographic areas of the state, but has particular strengths in Newark and New Castle County. A number of collections document Delaware politics and political history. These holdings include the personal papers of United States Representative Thomas R. Carper, and United States Senators George Gray, Willard Saulsbury, Willard Saulsbury, Jr., J. Allen Frear, Jr., and John J. Williams. Collections of broader historical import include the George Handy Bates Samoan Papers, and the papers of career diplomat George S. Messersmith. Family papers of Delaware residents present the daily and business life in the state over the past several hundred years. Collections include the Latimer Family Papers (1690-1927), which includes prominent figures such as James Latimer (1719-1807), founder of Newport, Delaware and Henry Latimer (b. 1752), surgeon in the Continental Army; the personal, professional, and family papers of James Curtis Booth (1810-1888), chemist and the first state geologist of Delaware; and the notebooks and diaries of Delaware resident and physician John Janvier Black (1837-1909).

One particularly intriguing collection is the archive of forty-eight volumes of typescripts compiled and written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Delaware in 1938 for the guidebook, Delaware: A Guide to the First State. This archive includes hundreds of short essays on Delaware history, buildings, and people. Other scrapbooks and reminiscences housed in Special Collections, both printed and manuscript, describe Delaware's past. A series of archaeological reports published by the Delaware Department of Transportation during the past fifteen years document the State's pre-industrial past. A large collection of city directories, commercial directories, telephone books, and maps dating from the early nineteenth century is also available in the Delaware Collection.

A wide variety of images of Delaware is available in Special Collections. Images range from a series of pencil drawings of Newark by Seth C. Brace, done between 1842 and 1844 when he was a member of the faculty of Newark College, which later became the University of Delaware, to a collection of over two thousand postcards of Delaware scenes. Trade catalogs and other advertising ephemera also depict Delaware locations and are often the only existing images of buildings that no longer exist. A Delaware photograph collection as well as many photographs in manuscript collections provide additional pictures of the region.

Willem Usselincx, 1567-ca. 1647.
Sweriges Rijkes General Handels Compagnies Contract ... Stockholm: [s.n.] 1625.

Willem Usselinx, a native of Antwerp and the principal founder of the Dutch West India Company, persuaded King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden to establish a commercial enterprise that would promote trade in Asia, Africa, and America. The king commissioned Usselinx to solicit subscriptions for the Swedish South Company in Sweden and its territories. In this second prospectus for the Company, Usselinx describes the advantages of contributing to the venture, referring to the wealth acquired by Spain and the Netherlands in similar enterprises, and extolling Sweden's resources for success in the marketplace.

Kort beskrifning om provincien Nya Swerige Thomas Campanius Holm, d. 1702.
Kort beskrifning om provincien Nya Swerige uti America: som nu fortjden af the Engelske kallas Pensylvania ... Stockholm: Tryckt uti Kongl. boktr. hos S. Wankijfs ankia, med egen bekostnad, af J.H. Werner, 1702.

This first detailed account of the colony at New Sweden includes the earliest detailed map of the area as well as information on the Native Americans of the region and their languages. Holm based the book primarily on manuscripts written by his grandfather, Johan Campanius Holm (1601-1683), who arrived in America in 1643 as minister for the colony and subsequently translated Martin Luther's catechism into the language of the Lénni-Lenapé.

[Uncut sheet of Delaware Colonial Currency]. [Wilmington]: Printed by James Adams, 1776.

This uncut sheet of Delaware colonial currency consists of sixteen pieces (four four-shilling notes, four five-shilling notes, four six-shilling notes, and four ten-shilling notes). They were printed by James Adams and bear the issue date of January 1, 1776. In accordance with the practice of the time, each bill was signed by the authorized individual from each county: John McKinly of New Castle, Thomas Collins of Kent, and Boaz Manlove of Sussex.

Joshua Gilpin and Co.
Delaware Paper Manufactory. Wilmington, Del.: Printed by Jacob A. Killen, on the west side of Market-street, between Third and High-streets ..., 1787.

This trade bill is the only known copy of a broadside announcing Delaware's first paper mill, which was established along the Brandywine Creek in 1787. The mill was established by Joshua Gilpin, a Philadelphia merchant who was encouraged to enter the burgeoning papermaking industry by Benjamin Franklin. The broadside is an appeal for rags, the raw material for papermaking.

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, 1739-1817.
Discours prononcé a l'Assemblée nationale, par M. du Pont, sur les banques en général, sur la caisse d'escompte en particulier, et sur le projet du premier ministre des finances, relativement à cette dernière. A Paris: Chez Baudouin, imprimer de l'Assemblée nationale..., novembre 1789.

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, a French economist, was minister of finance and inspector general of commerce prior to the French Revolution. His support of a constitutional monarchy and opposition to the radical republicans led to imprisonment during the Reign of Terror. He emigrated to the United States with his sons in 1800 and worked with Thomas Jefferson on plans for national education and Franco-American trade. In this work, du Pont outlines his proposal for establishing a national savings bank in France.

Robert Montgomery Bird, 1806-1854.
Nick of the Woods, or, The Jibbenainosay: a Tale of Kentucky. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1837.

Born in New Castle, Delaware and trained as a physician, Robert Montgomery Bird was a popular novelist and dramatist of the nineteenth century. He was also a watercolor painter and, in the years before his early death, became a proficient photographer. Nick of the Woods, his finest novel, was a suspense-filled story of the double life of Nathan, a pacifist Quaker who is secretly the frontiersman, "Nick of the Woods."

Wilmington Directory for the Year 1845 The Wilmington Directory for the Year 1845 containing the names, Occupations, Places of Residence and place of Business... Wilmington: Porter & Naff, 1845.

One of the earliest existing city directoriesfor Wilmington, The Wilmington Directory for the Year 1845 contains a wealth of information for scholars and researchers in many fields. In addition to the list of all heads of households in the city with their addresses and occupations, the Directory also contains lists of physicians, attorneys, city officials, and bank directors. The many advertisements included give the reader additional information on local businesses and products. Other city directories in the collection for both Wilmington and Newark show the development of the state over the past hundred and fifty years.

Wilmington, Delaware 1874. Drawn by Howard Heston Bailey (1836-1878), lithographed by G. W. Lewis, Albany, N.Y., and published by J. C. Harkness.

This detailed map of Wilmington includes the commercial buildings and homes. Numbers on the map refer to business establishments and are keyed to a list which includes the company names and type of business. Among the types of businesses active in Wilmington in 1874 were iron works, ship builders, morocco or leather manufacturers, carriage and wagon makers, undertakers, furniture manufacturers, and dry goods

Stranger and alone J. Saunders (Jay Saunders) Redding, 1906-1988.
Stranger and Alone: a Novel. New York: Harcourt, Brace [1950].

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, J. Saunders Redding was one of the most prominent African-American authors, critics, and educators of the twentieth century. Stranger and Alone is one of his best-known works of fiction.

for reference assistance contact AskSpec

history horticulture printing


arts science introduction
Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page

This page is maintained by Special Collections

Last modified: 12/21/10
  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014