Delaware Genealogy and History Guide

Delaware Genealogy Resources:





Delaware quick facts:

  • Statehood:
    December 7, 1787
  • State Capital:
  • State Nickname:
    The First State / Diamond State / Blue Hen State / Small Wonder State
  • State Bird:
    Blue Hen Chicken
  • State Song:
    "Our Delaware"
  • State Flower:
    Peach Blossom
  • State Tree:
    American Holly
  • State Motto:
    Liberty and Independence


Delaware Genealogy Research Guide:

Delaware Census Records:

The first Federal census enumerated for Delaware is 1790 and the U.S. government took a census every 10 years thereafter.  The census chart below will show you which census years are available for Delaware

  • 1790 The 1790 DE census was lost during a fire in the War of 1812.
  • 1800
  • 1810
  • 1820
  • 1830
  • 1840
  • 1850 - Includes Slave Schedules, important for black family research.
  • 1860 - Includes Slave Schedules, important for black family research.
  • 1870
  • 1880 - A Soundex Index is available on microfilm.
  • 1890 census schedules were lost in a 1921 warehouse fire. See 1890 Census Fragment for Delaware for information about a list of African Americans from the 1890 and 1900 censuses of Delaware.
  • 1900 - A Soundex Index is available on microfilm.
  • 1910
  • 1920 - A Soundex Index is available on microfilm.
  • 1930

Additional Delaware Census Records:

  • 1782 State census records are incomplete but used as a census substitute.
  • Microfilm Rolls M279 is an 1820 Census of Manufactures for New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
  • 1850-1880 Mortality Schedules (list of all persons who died during that census year).
  • 1850-1880 Agriculture Schedules (lists people living on farms).
  • 1880 Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes
  • 1850-1880 Manufacturing and Industry Schedules (lists all persons engaging in the business of manufacture and industry).
  • 1850-1870 Social Statistics Schedules.
  • Delaware Census Records at Ancestry

Delaware Military Records:

US Military service records can be obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Delaware Civil War records are online at the Delaware Public Archives.  These digital images include muster rolls, letters, lists of killed and wounded soldiers and other DE Civil War manuscripts.  For information on Delaware military units, see Dyer's Compendium of The War Of The Rebellion (Delaware Section).  Cornell University has a two searchable Civil War databases.  One is a database of The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion and the other is a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Both are accessible at their Making of America site.

More Helpful Delaware Military Links:

Delaware Vital Records

How to obtain Delaware vital records:

  1. For information on how and where to obtain both old or recent vital records see: Delaware Vital Records.
  2. Go in person to any of the Delaware county offices.
  3. Write to the Delaware Office of Vital Statistics
  4. Call 1-877-888-0248

Delaware Genealogy Subscriptions Online:

Many websites with genealogy resources for Delaware are available online. Some offer free DE genealogy databases and other information for the online genealogical researcher, but the paid subscription websites hold a more consistent amount of quality genealogy data and offer free trials to that data.

1. Delaware Genealogy Databases at

          Get the Free Trial when you register!

2. offers genealogy databases, a library and U.S. Census Collection.

         FREE TRIAL of

Delaware peach blossomCondensed History of DelawareDelaware peach blossom

The land we call Delaware today was explored in 1609 by Englishman Henry Hudson for the Dutch East India Company.  In 1610, Captain Samuel Argall, was exploring the coastline of "The New World" when his ship was blown off course.  He ended up in the bay known today as Delaware Bay, which he named after the Governor of Virginia.

Explorers and early settlers of Delaware were met by 2 different tribes of Native Americans.  The Lenape (now known as the Delaware Tribe), who lived on the Delaware River and the Nanticoke who lived on the Nanticoke River in the southwest.  Historians have placed the settlement of these Native Americans in Delaware as early as 1400.

Zwaanendael was the first white settlement on Delaware lands.  Formed on the present day site of Lewes, DE, the settlement consisted of 30 settlers who sailed from the town of Hoorn on the ship De Walvis in 1931.  These 30 men, built a fort, planted crops and befriended the Native Americans.  One year later in 1632, Captain De Vries set sail to visit the new colony at Zwaanendael and discovered all of the settlers had been killed and the buildings of the new settlement had been burned by the Indians.

In 1638, Swedish settlers led by Peter Minuet established Fort Christina.  This became the first permanent settlement in the Delaware River Valley.  This settlement was located on the Christina River.  Fort Christina was erected by the new settlers on "The Rocks" near Seventh Street in Wilmington, DE.  This area is commemorated today at Fort Christina State Park with a beautiful monument created by Carl Milles and gifted to Delaware by the people of Sweden along with a replica of the Kalmar Nyckel, the ship which brought the Swedish settlers to "The New World" to begin the Swedish Colony.

In 1655, the Swedish Colony was overtaken by the Dutch, brining the Swedish Colony to it's end.  However, the Dutch and English struggled for the rights to the area for many years.  In 1681, the Quaker, William Penn was given the Delaware lands by The Duke of York.

In 1776, three Lower Counties ratified the U.S. constitution and became Delaware State, being the first of the colonies to call themselves a state and on December 7, 1787, Delaware adopted the U.S. Constitution and is named the first state in the Union.  This is why the nickname for the state in 2002 became "The First State".

DELAWARE HISTORY FACT: The word Delaware comes from the name of the first governor of Virginia "Lord De La Warr".

DELAWARE HISTORY FACT: The word Zwaanendael, which was the first white settlement of Delaware, means "valley of swans" in the Dutch language.

DELAWARE HISTORY FACT: New Castle was the first capital of Delaware, however after the Revolutionary War, Dover was established as the new state capital in 1777.


  • Thomas McKean, son of William McKean, signer of the Declaration of Independence and a founding father of America.
  • Caesar Rodney, signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • George Read, signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Valerie Bertinelli, actress, famed for One Day At A Time television series.
  • John Phillips, author.
  • Howard Pyle, artist.
  • Felix Darley, artist.

Delaware History Links:



Peach Blossom graphics courtesy of Santa Lady