By Madeline Dunn, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register of Historic Places coordinator
On July 26, 2017, staff from the State Historic Preservation Office conducted a National Register research workshop at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover. The workshop helped address one of the goals of Delaware’s statewide historic preservation plan for 2013 to 2017 which calls for expanding opportunities for public education to increase support for historic preservation, and continuing historical-research training for property owners. As part of the workshop, nine attendees, including property owners and volunteers, engaged in research activities associated with historic properties previously designated as potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Exploring a host of primary-research materials within the extensive collections of the Delaware Public Archives, participants reviewed deeds, wills, probate records, court-case files, education records and U.S. Census information. In addition to examining a myriad of archival records, participants also reviewed a variety of National Register issues including eligibility qualifications and criteria, functions, classifications, a glossary of terms, research requirements, as well as essential research questions. Throughout the day, staff from the Preservation Office assisted attendees with reading and interpreting historical documents while Archives staff helped participants navigate the facility’s archival collections and access miscellaneous resource materials.
Participants from all three counties learned about the rigors of conducting historical research; were impressed with the extensive collections housed within the Delaware Public Archives; and expressed determination to complete their research projects on selected historic properties including a country estate and a private residence in New Castle County, a historic school in Kent County, and a small farm complex and a beach cottage in Sussex County.