Politics and Government, Domestic and Foreign
Selected Manuscript and Archival Sources
for reference assistance email Special Collections
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
The history of Delaware from its settlement by the Swedes in 1638 to the present is the focus of the Delaware Collection, housed in Special Collections. The collecting policy of the Library is to broadly document the history of Delaware and Delawareans, including primary sources related to the history of politics and government. The Library collects papers of current and former members of Congress; Delaware individuals who represent leadership in diplomatic or political arenas, domestic or foreign, at the local, state, and national levels; and papers of institutions, organizations, or groups concerned with public policy or civic affairs.
The following collections, unless otherwise noted, are open and available for research in the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library. Detailed finding aids provide further description for each collection and librarians are also available for assistance with using archival material.Top of page
MSS 093, Item 002 William F. Allen Scrapbooks, 1830-1946 (bulk 1937 - 1938); 2 vol.
William F. Allen, Democratic member of the House of Representatives for the state of Delaware (1937-1939), was born in Bridgeville, Delaware, in 1883, and died in Lewes, Delaware, in 1946. Allen's single term in Congress capped his political career as a lifelong Sussex County Democrat. The scrapbooks primarily chronicle his term in Washington, though clippings, correspondence, and personal ephemera reveal details about Allen's business ventures and earlier civic and political activities. Throughout, the scrapbooks document Democratic party politics at the local and state level in Sussex County and Delaware. Allen's state prominence led to a close relationship with national chairman James Farley, and support from the prominent Congressman Sam Rayburn, who appeared in Delaware during Allen's first campaign for Congress. Containing correspondence, invitations, and news clippings, in addition to other ephemera, the collection provides insight into some of the issues facing politicians during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
MSS 125 George Handy Bates Samoan Papers, 1869-1916 (bulk dates 1880-1899); 2 linear ft.
George Handy Bates (1845-1916) practiced law in Wilmington and was considered an expert on international and constitutional law. Bates served in the Delaware State Legislature, and was elected Speaker of the State House of Representatives in 1882. President Grover Cleveland appointed Bates as a special agent to investigate conditions in Samoa in 1886, and Bates was subsequently appointed as a U.S. Commissioner to the 1889 Joint Conference on Samoan Affairs held in Berlin. The collection documents Bates' activities related to Samoa and includes correspondence, memoranda, photographs, newspaper clippings, minutes of meetings, protocols, and drafts of treaties. In addition to Samoan culture and colonialism, the collection reflects diplomatic relations between Germany, Great Britain, and the United States during the 1880s.
MSS 262 Kay Boyle Papers relating to the Citizens' Mission to Cambodia, 1960-1979 (bulk date 1966); 1 linear ft.
American poet, short story writer, novelist, journalist, and teacher, Kay Boyle (1902-1992) was also a political activist. After returning from an expatriate life in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, Boyle took up activism on American issues such as integration policies, civil rights, a ban on nuclear weapons, and America's withdrawal from Southeast Asia. Sponsored by the organization "Americans Want to Know" in 1965-1966, Boyle and six others undertook a two-week fact-finding mission to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to investigate U.S. allegations that Cambodia was being used as a training area and staging ground for Viet Cong incursions into South Vietnam. Boyle's papers contain observation notes, records of meeting with Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, and drafts of lectures and articles reporting the Mission's findings upon their return to the United States.
MSS 261 Harold Brayman Papers, 1900-1991 (bulk dates 1928-1978); 22 linear ft., 12 scrapbooks
Harold Brayman (1900-1988) retired in 1965 from 21 years as the director of the Public Relations Department of the Du Pont Company, having established a concept of public relations which was widely emulated throughout the United States. In his retirement, he authored books on public, political, and governmental problems of business, as well as other works ranging from a history of Delaware's Lincoln Club to a history of the Gridiron Club. Brayman's connection to the Gridiron Club dates from his previous, also significant, career as a journalist and Washington correspondent for leading New York and other American dailies. A specialist in reporting and analyzing political events, Brayman attended all national political conventions from 1928 through 1940. He crisscrossed the nation as a correspondent on the presidential campaign trains of Alfred E. Smith in 1928, President Roosevelt in 1932, Alfred M. Landon in 1936, and Wendell L. Wilkie in 1940. Brayman served as president of the National Press Club (1938) and the Gridiron Club (1941). His papers document his dual careers, and include extensive clippings of his articles and columns, correspondence with numerous individuals and political figures, and manuscripts and drafts of his various publications.
MSS 263 Records of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 1941-1972 (bulk 1958-1963); 4 linear ft.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was formed in Great Britain in 1958 in response to NATO nuclear relationships between the United States and England. By this time, the United States had placed several of its nuclear fleet submarines and intermediate range nuclear missiles in Britain, committing the U.S. to respond to Warsaw Pact aggression. J.B. Priestley's article in The New Statesmen in support of unilateral disarmament motivated British intelligentsia, including Bertrand Russell as its first president, to form the CND. The records of CND document several issues of the disarmament movement in England, including the impact of nuclear weapons in general, the effectiveness of unilateral disarmament as a national policy, the merits of non-violent protest vs. civil disobedience, and the ability of pressure groups to stimulate political change.
MSS 399 Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers, 1979-1993 (bulk dates 1982-1992); 84 linear ft. and oversize material
Thomas R. Carper (1947- ) served the state of Delaware as its member-at-large in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-1993, as its Governor from 1993-2001, and is currently serving his first term in the U.S. Senate. Carper served in the House on the committees on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, and Merchant Marine and Fisheries, with memberships on several subcommittees. A Democrat, Carper was elected with the "budget conscious class of 1982" and was a fiscal conservative in his legislative efforts. Carper worked on the bailout plan for the savings and loan industry, correctly predicting the enormity of the problem. The Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers reflect issues on banking, environmental and coastal concerns, fishing and tourism, and many other topics of interest to Delawareans in the 1980s. In addition to correspondence, memoranda, and office files, the collection includes reports, documents, and memorabilia from Carper's congressional career.
MSS 468 William J. Cohen Papers, 1967-2001; 35 linear ft.
The William J. Cohen Papers document his career as an urban and environmental planner in Delaware. Cohen worked in the Delaware State Planning Office; was planning director for Newark, Delaware; privately practiced urban planning, government affairs, research, and design; returned to government as a senior resources planner for DE Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC); and served as executive director for the Governor's Task Force on the Future of the Brandywine and Christina Rivers. Cohen's projects were numerous and statewide, from the tip of Cape Henlopen in Sussex County to development of Wilmington's waterfront. The collection documents Cohen's three decades as a city and regional planner during a time of significant and volatile legislative policies about land use, community development, environmental impact, coastal management, commercial revitalization, historic preservation, and riverfront planning and development.
MSS 104 Desegregation of Delaware Archives, 1960-1982 (bulk dates 1974-1976); 6 linear ft.
This collection was compiled by Abigail Covelli in the 1970s when Delaware was in the process of establishing a desegregation plan for its public school system. The archive collected by Ms. Covelli consists of resource files used to consider the topic, with a focus on New Castle County and Wilmington city schools. Included are desegregation proposals, demographic information, advisory literature, workshop information, and studies and reports on the progress and results of desegregation.
MSS 167 George Gray Papers, ca. 1871-1925; 11 linear ft.
George Gray (1840-1925) served in the U.S. Senate from 1885-1899. A former attorney-general of Delaware, Gray became widely respected as an international arbitrator. President William McKinley appointed him to several commissions and as a judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1899-1914). Judge Gray served on arbitration commissions with Canada, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Great Britain, and Mexico; and the permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Gray as chairman of the commission to arbitrate the 1902 anthracite coal strike in Pennsylvania. The collection consists of material related to Gray's arbitration work and his judgeship. District court materials include transcripts, opinions, jury charges, etc. in cases related to bankruptcy, estates, immigration, industry, shipping, and rail roads. Documentation of arbitrations includes reports and papers, drafts of agreements, diplomatic correspondence and messages, commission procedures and protocols, and minutes of meetings. Some of the correspondents include John Hay, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Evans Hughes, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Elihu Root.
MSS 315 Papers of Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr., 1917-1963 (bulk 1949-1960); 80 linear ft.
J. Allen Frear, Jr. (1903-1992) was born in Rising Sun, Delaware. A graduate of the University of Delaware, Frear settled in Dover as a small businessman and farmer, and pursued interests in banking and finance. Frear was elected as the Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race of 1948, eventually defeating the popular incumbent, C. Douglass Buck. He defeated Herbert Warburton for election to a second term in 1954, but was defeated himself by J. Caleb Boggs in 1960. Frear served on the Banking and Currency, and Finance committees. He represented agriculture and industry for Delaware, and was particularly noted for personal service to his constituents. The period of Frear's tenure in office was the dynamic decade of the 1950s with issues such as the Korean War, desegregation, the escalating Cold War, McCarthyism, and the threat of nuclear weapons and Communism. The collection is organized in four subgroups of materials: Delaware and Delawareans, Legislative files, Administrative and Personal Office files, and Personal. Issues important to the State of Delaware and its citizens during the 1950s are well represented in this collection.
Greenwatch Institute Archives, 1992-1998; 3 linear ft.
In August 1991, Keystone Cogenerations Systems Inc. was granted Coastal Zone and subaqueous land permits by DNREC, allowing the company to build a coal-fired electric- and steam-generating plant in Logan Township, N.J., and a 1,600-foot pier into the Delaware River. Seven environmental activists appealed the permits and after a legal labyrinth, negotiated a tough settlement that brought some environmental clout and establishment of a trust fund "to be used for projects benefitting the environment." The Greenwatch Institute administers those funds, and its arachives include the legal briefs, correspondence, bylays, and reports documenting establishment of the Institute. Note: the collection is unprocessed. Please ask for assistance.
MSS 117 Latimer Family Papers, 1690-1925 (bulk dates 1770-1870); 6 linear ft.
Several generations of the prominent Delaware and Philadelphia-area Latimer family are represented in this collection. Of significance to Delaware politics and government are the papers of Dr. Henry Latimer (1752-1819). After practicing medicine in Wilmington, Latimer joined the Continental Army in 1777. In 1781 he was named Surgeon General of the Northern Division of the Continental Army. Latimer served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and was elected President of Delaware's Constitutional Convention in 1787. He served in the Delaware State Legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives (1793-1795), and the U.S. Senate (1795-1801). Dr. Latimer was also one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati. The collection includes papers related to Latimer's medical practice, congressional correspondence, letters from family and associates, and materials related to the Society of the Cincinnati. The material spanning 1793-1801 includes concerns from constituents, comment on speeches or actions of Congress, and political discussion, especially concerning the 1800 presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Significant correspondents include George Read and Senator James Bayard.
MSS 448 Archives of the League of Women Voters of Newark, 1953-1993; 14 linear ft.
In 1994, the League of Women Voters of Newark, Delaware, merged with the Wilmington branch of the League to form the League of Women Voters of New Castle County. The League is a national non-partisan organization which encourages its members to become politically active citizens and to support voter awareness at the community level. The records of the Newark League document the local history of this women's organization, as well as local, state, and national election issues from the early 1950s until the late 20th century. The records include bylaws, policies and organization manuals, board minutes and agenda, treasurers' and other officers' reports, newsletters, sponsored publications, and files from special projects and programs. The files of the Voter Services Committee include fact-finding reports, issues files, voter awareness plans, candidate profiles and questionnaires, information on voting laws, reports related to Newark city elections, district voting maps, and debate plans. The Newark League produced informative publications such as This is greater Newark, a community profile; They represent you, a guide to elected officials; and Voters Guide, a pre-election supplement to the News Journal.
June D. MacArtor Papers, 1966-2005, ca. 25 linear ft.
Delaware lawyer June D. MacArtor specialized in envionmental matters and worked for the State of Delaware. She headed the Environmental Group in the Delaware Department of Justice, and she was deputy director of the Division of Air and Waste Management in DE Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). Post retirement, MacArtor has served variously on the Council on Transportation (DelDOT), New Castle Council Planning Board, New Castle Conservation District, Delaware Nature Society, and the Delaware Audubon Society. The collection contains programs, notebooks, reports, handbooks, minutes, studies, legal forms, papers, correspondence, calendars, and memos pertaining to Ms. MacArtor's work for the State of Delaware and other citizens' watch groups on planning, land use, and environmental issues. Note: the collection is currently unprocessed. Ask for assistance in Special Collections.
MSS 109 George S. Messersmith Papers, 1907-1961 (bulk dates 1932-1947); 9 linear ft.
George S. Messersmith (1883-1960) was a distinguished career diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. Messersmith was a school teacher in Delaware when he left to join the Foreign Service in 1914. His recommendation to close the consulate of his first post based on lack of a need for it set the tone for his future reputation as being efficient and thorough in his work. At his second post, in Curacao in the Netherlands West Indies during World War I, Messersmith cracked a secret German code which allowed the U.S. to arrest and deport enemy agents. Messersmith served next in Antwerp, Buenos Aires, and then Berlin as Consul General in 1930. From 1934- 1937 he served as Minister to Austria, before he was called back to America to serve as Assistant Secretary of State. He was posted as Ambassador to Cuba in 1940, Ambassador to Mexico in 1941, and Ambassador to Argentina in 1946. Messersmith retired in Mexico where he died in 1960. In all posts, Messersmith was credited with establishing better relations than those existing before his arrival, especially in Mexico and Argentina. His work in pre-World War II Germany and Austria is especially important. A keen observer, Messersmith filed detailed and lengthy dispatches on the people and politics he saw. He predicted with great accuracy and warned the U.S. of the course of events in Europe if Hitler and the Nazi Party were not overthrown before they acquired greater power. Messersmith was greatly respected by the Nazis because he firmly represented U.S. positions and interests, maintaining speaking terms even in disagreement. The Messersmith Papers provide thorough documentation of U.S. diplomatic relations in areas of Messersmith's posts through correspondence, dispatches, official memoranda, and clippings.
MSS 196 Morris Family Papers, 1740-1985 (bulk dates 1864-1875, 1919-1925); .5 linear ft.
In addition to early records of deeds and indentures, the Morris Family Papers feature personal papers of Hugh M. Morris (1878-1966). A native of Sussex County, Morris began the study of law in 1900 under the preceptorship of Willard Saulsbury, Jr. and was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1903. In 1919, Morris was commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson as District Judge for the District of Delaware, a position he held until his retirement in 1930. Morris' judgeship was noted for his fairness and his establishment of precedents with emerging post-World War I corporate law. After 1930, he practiced law at the Wilmington firm Morris, Steel, Nichols & Arsht. A small collection, the Morris Family Papers include correspondence related to Hugh Morris' 1919 appointment to the federal bench, legal documents, and a small amount of material belonging to Willard Saulsbury, Jr. (probably acquired when Morris worked in the firm of Saulsbury, Morris & Rodney around 1915-1916).
MSS 331 Papers of Willard Saulsbury, Jr., ca. 1846-1921; ca. 80 linear ft.
Willard Saulsbury, Jr. (1861-1927) served in the U.S. Senate from 1913-1919, his Democratic support of Woodrow Wilson a factor in both his electoral success and defeat in that office. Willard Saulsbury, Jr. was the last Delaware senator elected by the state legislature. Saulsbury served on the Foreign Relations Committee, and was chairman of the committee on the Pacific Islands and Porto Rico. He visited the Far East in 1915 and was elected as president pro tempore of the Senate in 1916. After his Senate career, he returned to the practice of law in Delaware at the firm of Saulsbury, Morris & Rodney, but also served on other committees, including national democratic conventions and the 1923 Pan-American Conference at Santiago de Chile. Saulsbury was the son of Willard Saulsbury (1820-1892), who served in the U.S. Senate from 1859-1871. He was also the nephew of Eli Saulsbury (1817-1893), U.S. Senator from 1871-1889. The collection includes the business records and legal files of Saulsbury, Morris & Rodney; personal correspondence; papers related to his senate career; scrapbooks related to travel; clippings and reference files on issues of Delaware politics at the state and national level; and a smaller amount of papers and documents belonging to the senior Willard Saulsbury. Of particular interest to Delaware politics are files related to J. Edward Addicks.
MSS 528 Gwynne P. Smith Papers, ca. 1961 2004 (bulk dates 1970-1986); ca. 23 linear ft.
Gwynne P. Smith served eight terms as state representative to the Delaware General Assembly, 1974 - 1980. Her pursuit of public office was an outgrowth of earlier neighborhood civic involvement in Brookside in Newark and Green Acres in Wilmington, where she moved with her family in 1958. From 1968-1973, Smith served on the state board of the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs as chair for environmental legislation. During the same period, she served on the environmental committee of the League of Women Voters, and in 1969 she helped organize Delaware Citizens for Clean Air. Mrs. Smith testified at numerous public hearings on clean air, coastal zone, and water resources, and she helped consolidate support for the Coastal Zone Act, the Wetlands Act, the Delaware Environmental Protection Act, the Beachland Presevation Act, and other environmental bills. With Tom Doherty, she helped write the first piece of legislation in Delaware by citizen volunteers that was enacted into law, the Environmental Protection Act of 1970. Her papers document the civic activities and legislative career of a woman committed to protecting the environment and improving the quality of life in Delaware. Note: The collection is currently unprocessed. Please ask for assistance.
MSS 108 Fred Telford - Charles Polk Messick Papers, 1913-1972; 14 linear ft.
The Fred Telford - Charles Polk Messick Papers represent a 50-year collaboration in the field of public personnel administration. Telford (1881-ca. 1970), a graduate of the University of Chicago and George Washington University, met Charles Messick in 1917. Telford worked in a variety of positions in the personnel field for public and private organizations. While with the Works Progress Administration in 1935-1936, Telford wrote manuals for use in personnel records, classification, salary plans, recruitment, analysis of absence data, and service ratings. As a consultant, he worked on large projects for New York, Pennsylvania, California, and other states as well as the federal government. Messick (1882-1972), a native of Sussex County, received degrees from Delaware College (M.A. 1909) and the University of Pennsylvania. Messick gained notice through his work with the New Jersey State Civil Service Commission from 1910-1949, influencing the creation of many civil service administrations in the United States and Canada. After his retirement, Messick established Charles P. Messick and Associates, hiring Telford as his senior associate. The firm provided consulting and advisory services for national, state, and municipal governments as well as private organizations. The collection consists of the personal papers of Fred Telford, surveying the history of public personnel administration through personal writings and professional work with Messick.
MSS 127 Papers of Senator John J. Williams, 1946-1988 (bulk dates 1947-1970); 150 linear ft., 45 scrapbooks, media
John J. Williams (1900-1988) served in the U.S. Senate from 1947-1970. Senator Williams served on both the Finance and Foreign Relations committees, and was nationally known as an advocate of financial accountability from the government. He was called the "Watchdog of the Treasury" and the "Conscience of the Senate." His files demonstrate congressional oversight withdocumentation of several investigations. Notably, he exposed corruption in the offices of regional tax collectors in the early 1950s. These tax scandals led to reorganization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue into the Internal Revenue Service. In the early 1960s, Senator Williams initiated inquiries into the unethical behavior of senate staff member Bobby Baker, and received wide public recognition and support in his call for integrity and ethics in government. The collection consists of papers from his senate career organized into four subgroups: Legislative Staff/Office files; Constituent Correspondence and Cases; Administrative and Personal Office files; and Personal. Senator Williams' papers include voluminous constituent correspondence commenting on issues of the 1950s and 1960s from McCarthyism to the Vietnam war.
Frank R. Zebley Papers, 1897-1950; .5 linear ft.
Wilmington resident Frank R. Zebley (1883-1960) was a building contractor who was also an active supporter of the Republican party in Delaware. His brief political career peaked with his election as Speaker in the Delaware House of Representatives in 1938, but by 1940, he had resigned in disgusted opposition to New Deal liberalism. This small collection of Zebley's papers includes legislative and constituent correspondence dating from the 107th Delaware Assembly, 1938-1939.Top of page