Delaware History

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United States > Delaware > Delaware History

Brief History

The following important events in the history of Delaware affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.

  • 1631:  New Netherland Dutch build fort at Zwaanendael (Lewes, Sussex, Delaware).
  • 1638:  New Sweden Swedes and Finns begins settling in the Fort Christina (Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware) area.
  • 1664:  New Netherland including Delaware became a British colony as part of an Anglo-Dutch war.
  • 1682-1776:  Pennsylvania's governor assumes control of Delaware over the objections of Maryland's claims as far north as Philadelphia. Delaware had its own provincial assembly after 1703.
  • 1684-1736:  The colonial government of Maryland laid claim to southern and western Delaware.
  • 1776:  Delaware declared its independence from Britain and established a government separate from that of Pennsylvania.
  • 1787:  (December 7,) Delaware became the first state.
  • 1861-1865:  During the Civil War, Delaware was a Union state.

One of the best sources for studying Delaware history is:

Scharf, John Thomas. History of Delaware, 1609-1888. Two volumes. Tucson, Arizona: W. C. Cox, 1974. (Family History Library film 1000154.) An excellent, detailed history with names, dates, and places.

Scharf's book is indexed in:

Coghlan, Gladys M. Index to History of Delaware, 1609-1888. Wilmington, Delaware: Historical Society of Delaware, 1976. (Family History Library book 975.1 H2s index; fiche 6088424-26.)

Other important histories, many including biographical sketches and name indexes, can be found in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under: