University of Delaware

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The University of Delaware: A History


The most important depository for materials relating to the history of the University of Delaware is, of course, the University Archives. Colonial records here include the minutes of the board of trustees of the Academy of Newark (from 1783), copies of Presbyterian records relevant to the origins of this institution, an early receipt book, and miscellaneous academy papers. College records include the minutes of the board of trustees (from 1833) and of the faculty (from 1834), matriculation books (from 1834), ledgers and accounts, including some special collections such as the boxed papers relating to the Foreign Study Plan.

One heterogeneous collection of all sorts of materials--clippings, programs, letters, deeds, and so on--was arranged by William D. Lewis chronologically in forty-eight volumes with the title of Delaware University Archives. Except for some papers in this collection and elsewhere, very little presidential correspondence survives until the time of Albert N. Raub and George A. Harter. Some letters and other documents from the Harter, Mitchell, and early Hullihen administrations--materials that were apparently unwisely disposed of--have recently been donated to the archives, where they are known as the Raymond Dill Collection.

Papers, largely copies, exist of the first two headmasters, Alison and McDowell, and there are also collections of papers of some of the relatively recent university faculty, including Kirkbride and Amy Rextrew. The most valuable collections of records kept by trustees are the H. Rodney Sharp Papers and the scrapbooks, in four volumes, of Emalea Pusey Warner. Among these scrapbooks an anonymous "Book of Memories" was useful, as were the reminiscences of Manlove Hayes.

Student records include the minutes, directories (published), and other papers of the three literary societies, the Athenaean, the Delta Phi, and the Pestalozzi. The papers and diary of David L. Mustard, like the diary of Joseph Cleaver, Jr., which has been published, illumine student life in the 1850s.

Along with copies of many documents from other depositories, the University Archives includes a small collection of oral interviews, of which one with John Perkins has been used extensively in Chapter 11, and it has copies of all of the student papers, theses, and dissertations cited in this book. Here also are a number of manuscript indexes and other finding aids and lists, some prepared by William Lewis and some by the present archivist, John M. Clayton, Jr.

The Morris Library of the university contains the Evans Papers, a large collection of documents of two secretary-treasurers of the board of trustees, Charles B. Evans and his father George G. Evans. This library also holds a collection of oral interviews, mostly transcribed, with former students and members of the faculty and three volumes of typed papers that William D. Lewis called Delaware Miscellany. This latter collection includes William Gray's long reminiscence regarding Delaware College in 1883. Individual items in the Delaware Miscellany are indexed in the main card catalogue of the Morris Library, while references to items in the Evans Papers may be found in William Lewis's bound Delaware University Archives. The Rathmell Wilson Papers and the manuscript Kerr and Whiteley genealogies in the Morris Library are of modest interest to the university historian.

The Eleutherian Mills Historical Library, on the Brandywine River near Wilmington, contains pertinent materials in the papers of Charles I., Francis G., and, especially, Pierre S. du Pont, which last contain over 3,000 items pertaining to the university. Other materials relating to Pierre du Pont's beneficial interest in the institution are in the papers of the Delaware School Auxiliary Association and the Delaware School Foundation. John B. Riggs's Guide to the Manuscripts in the Eleutherian Mills Historical Library (Greenville, Del., 1970) and its Supplement... 1966 through 1975 (Greenville, Del., 1978) will lead the scholar to these items and others of relevance in this library.

Various items regarding the university and its predecessors are to be found at the Historical Society of Delaware, Wilmington, but for the purposes of this book the chief value of this depository lay in its unparalleled collection of early Delaware newspapers.

The Delaware State Archives, in Dover, has the Ridgely Family Papers and also, of course, such valuable official records as the Legislative Papers, which contain many interesting petitions relating to the early college.

The only collection still in private hands that was used in this book was the papers of William H. Purnell, including a scrapbook, used through the courtesy of a descendant, Mrs. Clyde Cox, of Newark.

In Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has many items relating to the early college and academy, including papers of Matthew Wilson located through the card catalogue in several different collections, and a manuscript "Account of Expenses on Voyage to Jamaica made to solicit Benefactions for the Academy of New Ark, 1772-1773," by Hugh Williamson (in the Society Collection). The Thomas Penn Papers, used in microfilm, contain valuable comments on the struggle for the first academy charter.

The library of the American Philosophical Society, also in Philadelphia, contains letters of Daniel Kirkwood in its John F. Frazer Papers and John Warner Papers, as well as a 1777 diary of James Hutchinson that chronicles Hugh Williamson's return to America from his fund-raising mission in Great Britain (called to my attention by Mrs. Marie Barrett).

The chief source of information on this mission is found in the letters of Williamson's colleague, John Ewing, whose papers are at the University of Pennsylvania. That university's archivist, James Dallett, turned up several other items of interest.

The manuscript Presbytery of New Castle Minute Book 1759-1773, at the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, was helpful in establishing Alexander McDowell's assignments in this period. Other valuable records of this society have been printed.

Miscellaneous data from the Princeton University Archives were kindly supplied by its archivist, Earl Coleman, and a copy of the Robert Johnson account book in the Rutgers University Library was supplied by Richard P. McCormick.

The Bagby Family Papers, at the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, provided the earliest known manuscript journal of one of the literary societies.

The Southern Historical Collection of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, furnished microfilm of a Josiah Smith, Jr., letterbook, as well as the surviving papers of Samuel Chiles Mitchell for the period of his presidency.

The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, provided some original papers regarding Walter Hullihen, as did the University of Vermont, Burlington, for George Allen. Among other colleges and universities supplying helpful data were Minnesota, Michigan, Vassar, Harvard, and Union College. The Carnegie Corporation, in New York, located and provided copies of several documents in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Archives.