Local Historical Research

The Wilmington Library was established in 1788 and has, therefore, been collecting Delaware resources for quite a long time. We are available to assist anyone doing local historical research. If at any time you need our assistance, please contact the Reference Department.

The following are the resources that many people find particularly useful.  More resources are available.

  • Delaware Index. Wilmington Library staff maintains an old card index of local Wilmington newspapers, magazines and history books.  The index was created during the years 1920-1977. The index is in two parts: 1. A topical listing which includes historical events; 2. A biographical section listing famous Delawareans.
  • Delaware Newspapers. Our collection of newspapers on microfilm begins in 1871. We have the News Journal, Morning News, Sunday Morning Star, Every Evening and Evening Journal on microfilm. Patrons can use our microfilm machines to copy articles from the newspapers. Copies cost 25¢ per page. The library has bound print copies of older newspapers of various titles and years. Please inquire with the Reference Desk to check by year, which newspapers were in print and if the library owns it. The Reference Department has a union newspaper index that can check by year starting in 1787 of which newspapers were published and which library may own them.
  • Delaware Room. Our collection of historical Delaware materials is kept in a locked room. The collection is not designed for browsing but is well indexed in our Delaware index and online catalog. The materials that we collect include: Delaware authors; industrial/company materials; legal materials, periodicals and other assorted materials about Delaware’s past. We also have a clipping file of Wilmington newspaper articles that are indexed in the Delaware index mentioned below. Delaware-Room-Policy for use of materials and room.
  • City Directories / Cross Reference / Phone books. Although the earliest volume in the collection is the city directory of 1814, the more complete collection begins in the 1880’s. The collection is not complete but is quite extensive.
  • Historical maps. Our collection of early Delaware maps is kept in the reference department.  Maps show Delaware from colonial times to present. Our maps are indexed in our card catalog and patrons can search by geographic area and time period.
  • Delaware Census. We have the Delaware census on microfilm from 1810 to 1930.
  • Current information from the News Journal and Delaware Today, call the reference desk. The Librarians on staff have created an index of top stories from the local newspapers from 1989 to the present. In addition, the News Journal’s website has an archive that you can search by keyword. Any citations you find can be used to find an article in our microfilm. A Wilmington Librarian would be happy to search for you, just call (302) 571-7400 ext. 2416.