University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Transcripts of Early
Newark, Delaware,
Church Records

1739 - 1906

Manuscript Collection Number: 347
Extent: 1 vol. (589 pp.)
Content: Transcription of minutes; church membership records; list of births, deaths, dismissals, and
admissions; transcription of deed and indentures.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: October 1997 by Arthur Siegel.

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Table of Contents

Scope and Content Note

The "Transcripts of Early Newark, Delaware, Church Records" collection is a compilation of transcriptions from the records of five Newark churches: the Village Presbyterian Church, the First Presbyterian Church, the Welsh Tract Baptist Church, the White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, and the Head of Christiana Church. Spanning the years 1739-1906, the church records include minutes from meetings; lists of births, deaths, and church membership; records of dismissals, admissions, and resignations; as well as copies of indentures and deeds. Though originally four separate documents, the collection was subsequently bound into one volume.

This collection was the result of a 1936-1937 National Youth Administration project, supervised by Henry Clay Reed, the noted Delaware historian and University of Delaware professor. The National Youth Administration was authorized by the Federal Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, and was intended to keep high-school and college students in school and out of the job market by offering them part-time employment. This Depression-era relief program aimed to further education through work, thus, jobs tended to be in such milieux as libraries, laboratories, or administrative offices. By 1941 the program had provided assistance for about 1.5 million individuals. The Transcripts of Church Records collection is interesting because one can see the NYA project at work, providing employment in the transcription of church records. Inconsistencies in recording procedures as well as the changing hand of numerous copyists are quite evident.

The transcripts yield valuable information to researchers who are interested in historical demographics of the Newark area. The records not only provide lists of members (though in only one case is this list complete), but also provide often-detailed information regarding the process of admission into and dismissal from the church. As documented in the church records, personal behavior and participation demanded by the church of its members was rigidly defined and closely scrutinized in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is interesting to note the dismissal of individuals from the congregation for such sins as infrequent church attendance or keeping an unclean home. This scrutiny was also borne out in the process of admission, whereby one could be received into a church only through character examination or by means of a certificate of reference from another church.

For the specifics of church administration and leadership, it is possible to reconstruct the tenures of individual ministers during the time span covered by the collection, how much they were paid, and why they either resigned or were dismissed.


Mitchell, Broadus. Depression Decade: from New Era through New Deal, 1929-1941. vol.IX.
New York: Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1947.

Contents List

This single volume contains transcriptions from the record books of five Newark churches, and includes detailed accounts of minutes from meetings; lists of births, deaths, and church membership; records of dismissals, admissions, and resignations; as well as copies of indentures and deeds. At the bottom of each introductory page is a note stating who the copyist was and the year the record was transcribed.

The Village Presbyterian Church (Jul 27, 1842 - Dec 10, 1854); pp.1-55
This section includes a list of subscribers with their monetary contributions for the establishment of the Presbyterian church, dated March 3, 1842, and detailed minutes from church meetings. Also included is a chronological list of members through 1854, ordered according to the year in which they were admitted, and containing such information as when they died, how they were received into the church, when individuals were baptized, and who was dismissed from the congregation. The transcription is numbered only up to page 35, whereafter the numbering stops and is not resumed.

The First Presbyterian Church (Jun 7, 1863 - Apr 6, 1872); pp.56-88
Included in this section are detailed minutes from church meetings, and a non-alphabetical list of members which provides information of when they died, how they were received into the church, and who was dismissed.

The Welsh Tract Baptist Church (corrections: 1710 - 1831); pp.89-108 (May 4, 1833 - Apr 21, 1899); pp.109-292
This section is divided into two parts. The first is entitled "Corrections in Welsh Tract Records'," which had been copied in Historical and Biographical Papers, vol. IV (Historical Society of Delaware). This is merely an addendum to church records which predate those provided in the collection, making references to particular lines or pages which were in error. The second part is entitled "Church Book," and spans the period from 1833-1889. It includes notices and minutes of church meetings, as well as varied information about its members; such as baptisms and deaths, and records of appointments, dismissals, and resignations.

White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church (1739 - 1839); pp.293-589
The contents of this section are divided categorically: minutes (1815-39), baptisms (1816-1838), and receipts (1781-1801). Included in this section are the transcripts from three indentures involving the church (1739, 1741, and 1752) and two deeds from 1752, all of which contain lists of signers and witnesses to the transactions. Also included are records from The Head of Christiana Church (1815-1906), divided into two parts. The first of these (pp.320-349) is found between the listing of baptisms and receipts for White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, and provides an account of members and minutes from 1815-1840, and of baptisms from 1816-1838. The second part (pp.400-589) is more detailed than the first, providing a record of minutes from 1839-1894, and also provides a number of categorical lists. It offers an account of deaths within the congregation from 1841-1900; a complete, non-alphabetical, list of members from 1815-1902 including pertinent information; a record of marriages from 1854-1906; as well as accounts of both adult baptisms (1854-1899) and infant baptisms (1841-1883). Page references to the original record are also provided with each entry. Footer

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