1964: The Historical Society of Delaware Turns 100

The year 1964 was an incredibly important landmark year for the Society as it celebrated its 100th birthday. The organization now boasted six employees, including a Librarian and its second professional Executive Director, Mr. Dale Fields, and was looking to keep expanding both its facilities and programs. This was also the year that the Society began planning in earnest for important renovation projects to its headquarters in the Old Town Hall. One of the Society’s most important celebratory projects for the year was a special 100th anniversary issue of “Delaware History” journal that was published in April 1964 and included an overview of the organization’s history, biographical sketches of its leaders, and a list of manuscript materials in its collections.

Another cause for celebration was the acquisition of the Richard S. Rodney manuscript collection, which was bequeathed to the Society by prominent Delawarean and avid historian, Judge Richard Seymour Rodney (1882-1963). Judge Rodney, a native of New Castle, served as an Associate Judge of the Delaware Supreme Court, on the U.S. Supreme Court, and also as the Society’s President from 1943-1954. At a special dinner meeting of the Society on January 14, 1964, the Society’s President, James M. Tunnell, Jr., formally announced that “under the Will of Honorable Richard S. Rodney the Society will receive the large collection of 18th and 19th century manuscripts and books which Judge Rodney has collected over the years. Among the most important of these documents are a number which deal with George Read, one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence for Delaware. This collection will be known as the Richard S. Rodney Collection.” A fitting, well-timed, and appropriate gift from a man who was not only a history scholar in his own right, but also the originator and driving force behind our “Delaware History” journal, which continues to this day.

Rodney 1
Judge Richard S. Rodney

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