Thursday, May 16, 2013

The DHAS Speaker for Treasures of the Archives

For those who missed the Delmar Historical and Arts Society Speaker on "Treasures of the Archives," you missed a good presentation.

Our speaker was Mr. Thomas Summer who is Manager, Outreach Services, at the Delaware Public Archives. A native of Milford, Delaware, Thomas Summers graduated from Washington College (Maryland) in 1983 with a B.A. in History. After serving as an air traffic controller in the United States Navy for four years he returned to the Delaware area and began working as an archivist at the Delaware Public Archives. Tom earned his Master of Education in Elementary Studies from Wilmington College in 1995.He has been Manager of Outreach Services since May 2005. Mr. Summer’s subject was “Treasures of the Archives.”
He did a remarkable job of relating powerpoint slides of various documents and photographs to today’s events. Some of the topics he spoke on (by far not all) were;

His talk started with an example of what is known as the "Charter Documents" of 1682. He explained how the document set the northern border of Delaware as a twelve-mile radius from the town of New Castle and south to Cape Henlopen. It is this set of documents that has many times in the past and continue to establish & protect Delaware’s boundaries & its resources. In 2008 the State of New jersey wanted to construct a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Jersey side of the Delaware River. The Charter documents prevented this because the twelve-mile radius extend to the New Jersey Shoreline and the Supreme Court upheld the power of the documents by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying it was within Delaware's authority to prohibit construction of the facility within its domain.

Other documents shown were early Delaware indentures which are contracts between two people. He explained that the term indenture came from the agreement was written twice on a long sheet of paper. The true copies were on the top and on the bottom of the paper. The paper was then cut half in a wavy fashion. If there was need to prove the document the two pieces were matched together with the wavy or indented edges and it was shown the document was the original. Thusly the contracts became known as indentures due to the indented edge.
He discussed the 1690 Proclamation for suppressing cursing

He explained why when a person enlisted in the military in the Revolutionary War one of the items noted on his record was his complexion. The British when retreating would leave blankets and other items that had smallpox on them. By looking at the complexion of the soldier if pox marks were present it meant he had had smallpox and thusly had an immunity to the small pox. He was put in the front of the attack so he could touch possible smallpox items and pick them up before soldiers who did not have small pox came along and picked them up and became diseased.
He spoke on Delaware offer to let New Castle Delaware be the new National capital after the Revolutionary war and he spoke about Alexander Hamilton and his methods to fund the Federal Government which had acquired the debt incurred by each state to finance the Revolutionary war.

Stored in the Delaware archives is the permanent record of everyone who went to school in Delaware.
He spoke some on the whipping post that Delaware had up until 1973. Each County had one but national pressure finally made Delaware stop using them.

He talked some about the Hometown photograph project. As you can imagine the Delaware archives is filled with photographs containing unidentified people. The Hometown project consisted of the Delaware archives sending out photographs with a log book and local residents could go to their local library and look at the photographs and identify those they knew by writing it down in the log book. Over 1900 people have been Id’ed over the last three years. The Hometown Delaware program is full of photos mostly from the 1930s to 1950s. A small group of the archives’ more than 800,000 pictures are at You can visit there and see if you can Id anyone.
He spoke some a bout the KKK and we found some of the Archives information on the KKK in Delaware is sealed until 2025.

and much more

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