1993: Thelma Young and Helen Thomas collections come to HSD

In 1993, the Society acquired two significant collections related to women’s history in Delaware. The first details the work of Thelma Young, an educator and advocate in the African American community from the 1930s through the 1960s. The second collection belonged to Helen Thomas, a leader in the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1970s and 1980s.

Thelma Young, a native of Arkansas, came to Wilmington in the early 1930s after graduating from Columbia University. She taught cooking at Howard High School and later worked at H. Fletcher Brown Technical High School in the practical nursing program. Her dedication to young people extended beyond the classroom as seen through her involvement in the Walnut YWCA and the Girl Reserve program.

Thelma Young (seated) with students at H. Fletcher Brown Technical High School
Thelma Young (seated) with students at H. Fletcher Brown Technical High School

Helen Thomas’s collection of documents, photographs, and tapes details her years of leadership in the women’s movement in Delaware. She became involved in the movement in August 1970 when she and two other women set up a table in Rodney Square to recruit members for a Delaware Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She later served on the Governor’s Council for Women and the Delaware Commission on the Status of Women.

Helen Thomas, leader in women's movement in Delaware
Helen Thomas, leader in women’s movement in Delaware

The actions of each of these women significantly improved the quality of life in Delaware and their papers enrich the collections of our Society. Today, these two collections form the foundation for collecting the diverse stories of Delaware women.

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