Henry C. Conrad served as the Society’s president for only one year, 1908, in an era when presidents served for many years, but this provides an opportunity to remember a distinguished Delawarean and devoted historian.
A native of Bridesburg, Pennsylvania, Henry C. Conrad (1852-1930) moved to Wilmington as a child and spent the rest of his life in Delaware. He clearly loved his adopted state. In addition to his successful law practice, he had many interests and community involvements.
Of primary interest to the Delaware Historical Society, of course, is his passion for history. He began publishing articles on a variety of topics in the early 1880s and continued until his death. Particular interests were religion and the legal profession. Conrad’s major work is his three volume History of the State of Delaware published in 1907.
Conrad was also active in Wilmington politics, serving as postmaster, president of City Council, and president of the Board of Education. In the early 1880s he was part-owner and publisher of the Wilmington Morning News. In 1909, Conrad was appointed resident judge in Sussex County, requiring him to move to Georgetown and probably leading to his resignation as president of the Society.
Education for African Americans was another lifelong commitments for Henry C. Conrad. In 1876, at the young age of 24, he became actuary of the Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of the Colored People, which ran schools for African Americans. As actuary—a post he held for 17 years–Conrad handled most of the Association’s business affairs. This service led to one of his first publications, A Glimpse at the Colored Schools of Delaware (1883). In 1891, he was a founding trustee of Delaware State University.
Henry C. Conrad’s final service to history was serving as Delaware State Archivist from 1924 to 1930.