Delaware Literary Travel

Delaware contains a variety of literary destinations for bibliophiles.

If you’re a Delaware resident and you don’t plan to go out of state for your summer vacation, a “staycation” can be just as fun and rewarding.

Delaware is home to a plethora of unique literary destinations to explore if you happen to be a bibliophile. 

Each of the three counties in the state has libraries with plenty to offer for curious minds, so if you want to visit a few substantial libraries in the state, keep reading. This article will cover various collections and other interesting events in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County. 

Not to mention, we’ll also delve briefly into the entirety of the Delaware Collections so that readers like you can walk away from this article with a preview of what they could expect to see when researching the various entries, tools, and documents therein.

University of Delaware

The University of Delaware is located in New Castle County, and the library therein is one of the most robust sources of historical records and literary collections that visitors can’t find anywhere else. The university’s library is world-renowned for its various historical preservation endeavors, and with that sort of reputation, it’s no wonder why so many book lovers and history buffs make the University of Delaware a must-see location.

One popular attraction brought to you by the University of Delaware’s library is the Delaware Author Adventure Trail. It’s a stretch of road that leads to three different literary destinations. The entire trail is less than an hour’s travel time, so it can be knocked out in a single day. These destinations include the following: 

  • Literary Newark: This segment of the trail honors the work of Delaware poet Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson and Delaware’s resident sci-fi writer, Steve Alten. Collections of their works and other interesting historical items are housed within the University of Delaware’s library.
  • Howard Pyle: Howard Pyle was a master when it came to illustrating written works, and many of his illustrations are showcased in this segment of the trail, at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington.
  • Winterthur Library: Winterthur is actually a library, museum, and garden rolled into one location. It houses a collection of rare books and artifacts thanks to the building’s original owner, Henry Francis du Pont.

Biden Book Collection

Because Delaware is home to our current president and first lady, Joe and Dr. Jill Biden, the library also keeps a small collection of books and essays the couple has written. 

President Joe Biden wrote Promise to Keep, Promise Me, Dad, and his Inaugural Address.

Dr. Jill Biden wrote Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops, Joey: The Story of Joe Biden, and Where the Light Enters. The first two titles are children’s picture books, while the third is a memoir.

New Castle County

Aside from the University of Delaware’s library, New Castle County has an array of equally interesting special collections housed in its libraries. 

  • Corbit Calloway Memorial Library: This location houses the Delmarva Collection (a series of works by Leslie Calloway), The Delaware Collection (a digital collection of digital postcards), and various resources to check out for ancestral and genealogical research.
  • Wilmington Public Library: The Wilmington Public Library houses an extensive collection of state historical documents, including Delaware newspapers, census records, city directories, and the exclusive Delaware Room. This room isn’t open to the public, but each item secured within is carefully indexed for digital review.

Kent County

Kent County has a couple of interesting literary experiences to take part in, so if you’re staying in-state this summer, be sure to visit Kent County’s libraries. The following two entries are among the most popular literary destinations in Delaware.

  • Dover Public Library: Like many libraries, the Dover Public Library features a variety of genealogical research documents, but this library’s collection doesn’t end there. The Dover Public Library also offers Dover obituary records, historical photo viewings, Dover histories, databases full of literary and personal records, and several well-organized Heritage Walking Tours segmented by year.

  • William C Jason Library: This library is located in Dover, and it’s part of Delaware State University’s library system. The William C Jason Library houses an impressive array of historical materials in its collection. Such items include a Juvenile Collection, Archives, African American works, journals, microfilms, and a selection of rare books.

Sussex County

Finally, Sussex County has a few libraries to visit during your literary excursion. Laurel Public Library and Lewes Public Library are among the key destinations that library patrons enjoy. Be sure to make time for both locations.

  • Laurel Public Library: This library has several collections worth checking out for those interested in the state’s history. These collections include a map from 1868, documents from the Delaware Historical Society, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade database, public archives, and the Delaware Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s resources.

  • Lewes Public Library: Historical resources in this library’s collection include newspaper archives, an array of ancestral research data, and other research aids. In addition, the  Lewes Public Library participates in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. This program mails participating children one free book per month to encourage children’s literacy.

The Delaware Collections

Several libraries across the state collaborate in order to create and maintain the Delaware Collections, a list of historical and recordkeeping resources that are pertinent to the state’s past, present, and future. 

The unique grouping of materials in this collection is made possible by the Delaware Library Association, Delaware Public Libraries, the Old Swedes Foundation, Library Planning Collection, several state museums and societies, university dissertations, and government publications. 

This collection features many of the pieces that are viewable in different state libraries, including historical documents, maps, census records, archives, newspapers, obituary records, oral histories, and even photographs from the early days of photography in Delaware. 

As one of the first states in the country, Delaware has a rich history and thanks to the past’s recordkeepers, we have ample histories and historical resources to review. These documents and research tools enable each generation to get familiar with Delaware’s interesting development.

Sometimes, if you’re looking for an informative and engaging experience to take part in during your time off work, the answer is right in your backyard. There’s so much to learn about in Delaware, so there’s no need to feel down if you’re not leaving the state for vacation. History is very much alive in this state, and participating in activities with other literature lovers is going to make your endeavors fun and memorable.



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