The history of Delaware goes back to 1787 though the state collection of records will begin around 1913. There is a lot of Delaware genealogy material out there, if you know where to look.
Delaware Vital Records
The term “vital records” is used to describe birth, death and marriage certificates held by the state. They are aptly named because they are vital to any Delaware genealogy studies.
You have a few options when making a request for vital records. There are offices in Newark and Georgetown that only take in-person requests, and then you can use the Dover office for either in-person service or for mailed in applications. The other two do not accept mailed in forms.
The proper forms to make a records request can be printed out from the Delaware Health and Social Services website. There are separate forms for all 3 types of documents, and you need to supply all the names, dates and places relevant for the event on the record. The fee for each type is $25 and will need to be included with your application.
Before you make your request, be aware that there are privacy restrictions on these documents. You will need to be a direct relative of the person on the record, unless the records are old enough. For birth records, the time frame is 70 years and death records must be 40 years old before they become public.
The main Vital Records offices will have material dating to around 1913, so if you are looking for documents older than that, you will need to direct your research elsewhere. That would include the Public Archives, or even the county clerk’s offices in the county where the event you are interested in took place.
Delaware Public Archives
Older records that the Vital Records office does not have can be found at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover. They have a great deal of Delaware genealogy material aside from the old vital records. Much of their holdings are on microfilm so you will have to go in person to do most of your research. Staff can do some remote searching for you, but there is a fee. Contact the Archives if you can’t get there yourself.
Besides the vital records, they have census records, Civil War material, court and probate records, maps, naturalization papers, photographs and a large number of historical books.
The Archives are open to the public during standard business hours, but are closed on weekends. They are also open on the first Saturday of every month.
Even though the state is a small one, their great depth of history has led to a number of Delaware genealogy groups to have formed. The main one for the state is the Delaware Genealogy Society. Being a member can help you contact others who may be looking for the same material you are, and having additional contacts is always helpful in this area.
The Historical Society of Delaware is also quite helpful though they do not focus just on genealogy.