Saint Patrick

By David Cardillo, DDNP staff, blog contributor

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 16 March 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

A century ago, the Middletown Transcript from March 16, 1918 published several articles regarding Saint Patrick’s Day.  The main article on Saint Patrick himself debunks the popular myth of driving reptiles out of Ireland. Instead, this article portrays him as a humble, compassionate human and focuses on his involvement with the Celts.  Patrick’s popularity with the common folk as well as his charisma with those in power seemed to aide him in his task to serve the Church’s mission.

The same issue of the Middletown Transcript also contains two smaller articles on other images and symbols associated with Saint Patrick’s Day, specifically, the shamrock.  The shamrock was chosen for Ireland’s banner by Saint Patrick, and a shamrock is a variety of clover.  The luck of clovers can be dated back to the Greeks, and that wearing a clover would bring prosperity.  It was also noted that snakes tend to avoid clover.

Find out more by searching Delaware newspapers on Chronicling America for “Saint Patrick.”

Dentist’s Day

By David Cardillo, DDNP staff, blog contributor

The Wilmington daily Republican. (Wilmington, Del.), 10 May 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Did you know that March 6 is Dentist’s Day?  While not a national holiday, it can still be a fun holiday to remember the person who keeps your chompers in good working order.  In addition to drilling, filling, bridging, flossing, and brushing, dentists often have interests outside of oral health.

Take, for example, a dentist named Doctor Honeywell who, in 1897, participated in a production of Harry W. Semon’s Big City Minstrels.  The show itself featured several singers, Doctor Honeywell among them, who was well-cheered by the attendance of many of his patients.

The sun. (Wilmington, Del.), 25 Oct. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The October 25, 1897 edition of The Sun describes Dr. Honeywell not only as an accomplished and personable dentist, but also as humorous and and a good singer.  The show was performed at the Bijou Theater in Wilmington. It also toured in Delmar and other southern cities in Delaware, with shows scheduled for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

For more dental history in Delaware, visit Chronicling America, select Delaware Papers, and search for “dentists” or “dentistry.”

External source: Dentist’s Day via National Day Calendar

Washington’s Birthday

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, blog contributor

President’s Day, according to, was originally a celebration of President George Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1732.  His birthday was commemorated in 1800, a year after his death, and observed for the better part of a century. It became a Federal holiday in 1879.

In the late Twentieth Century, Washington’s Birthday was shifted from the regular date of February 22 to the third Monday in February and became a joint celebration of every American president.  Because of the confusion associated with the date change, President Abraham Lincoln, who also had a birthday in February, was lumped in with President Washington.

The Newark Post of February 28, 1917, used the holiday to report on a luncheon held by the Women’s College in honor of the holiday to showcase the home economics program of the college.

Newark post. (Newark, Del.), 28 Feb. 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The women in the program were expected not only to cook, but to be able to prepare food on both a small (family-size) scale and a large (luncheon or dining hall) scale.  For the luncheon, the women were tasked with planning room decor, including seating arrangements, in addition to the menu.  The article describes how a study of home economics can fill a four-year course load by combining a study of nutrition, history, physics, chemistry, and other cultural subjects. It was a very well-rounded degree!

External source:

Stories of Love

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

In the same way there have been stories of hauntings for Halloween and heartwarming Christmas stories in newspapers, there are also romance stories, as evidenced in the February 14, 1914 edition of The Middletown Transcript.

In this issue, Joanna Single wrote a short story, “A Valentine Heart,” about a young lady named Nancy.  Nancy is a secretary who has grown fond of her boss throughout her interactions with him at work.  And he has become fond of her as well, though neither Nancy or her boss become aware of this until the end of the story.  No separate artist is mentioned, thus the artwork may also have been drawn by the author.  The artwork depicts the three characters of the story and is an interesting sample of illustrations and fashions of the time.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 14 Feb. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

More stories, though perhaps without illustrations, can be found by searching “Valentine’s Day” on the Chronicling America website.

Groundhog Day 1880

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

The daily gazette. (Wilmington, Del.), 03 Feb. 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

As we can see from this article of The Daily Gazette from February 3, 1880, Groundhog Day in Delaware goes back over a century.  Nowadays, Delawareans rely on Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania, but this article is unclear as to whether Delaware observed its own groundhog or if this is a report from Pennsylvania predating the 1887 foundation of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

The groundhog in question in 1880 did indeed see his shadow, then ran back to his burrow.  That afternoon, clouds rolled in, bringing snow, which later turned to rain, robbing people of even the chance to go sledding.

Then, as now, the groundhog was unavailable for comment after his predictions came true.

Find out more by searching “Groundhog Day” under Delaware Newspapers on Chronicling America.

External source: The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club

Call me…

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

Newspaper advertisements give historians a unique insight into what products were historically part of daily lives, what products were being sold, and even the evolution of a trend or technological innovation.

Case in point: this advertisement from The Daily Gazette, Friday, February 7, 1879 shows what telephones were like shortly after their invention:

The daily gazette. (Wilmington, Del.), 07 Feb. 1879. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

This ad focuses on businesses and how a telephone in general can connect one office to another.

Thirty-five years later, this ad from The Newark Post, November 18, 1914 shows that telephones are, more or less, a regular part of the business world, and instead of  trying to sell the phone itself, the ad is also selling a particular telephone service provider.

Newark post. (Newark, Del.), 18 Nov. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

A Century Ago Today…

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor


World War I, also known as The Great War, raged through Europe from 1914 to 1918, ending in November of 1918.  Thus, at the start of 1918, newspapers like the Middletown Transcript of January 5, 1918 reported on the war, peace proposals, government takeover of the railroads, shipbuilding, income taxes to support the war effort, and conservation and rationing of food and supplies.  Those were the main headlines, but some of the smaller articles reported on things such as a prisoner exchange between Germany and France, a munition train that blew up, an American pilot stationed in France who was shot down behind German lines, and other, more local and personal stories of the war.  Stories like these – and others in this particular issue – cover not only stories from the front lines, but also give a glimpse into the daily life and support from the home front.

Find out more by searching Chronicling America and searching Delaware papers, 1914-1918.


Christmas Legends According to 1897 Delaware

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

Merry Christmas from the DDNP!

The Delaware Gazette and State Journal on December 23, 1897 provides a comprehensive overview of Christmas lore.  One particular article describes not only the Christian origins of Christmas, but also how Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus) came to be.  It describes traditional Christmas dinners for the late 19th century, which consisted of pheasant and boar’s head stuffed with an orange and explains how the pheasant was eventually replaced with the goose, a precursor to the current American turkey tradition. As for decorations, the article describes the “heathenish” origins of mistletoe and yule logs and how they came to be Christianized.

Christmas has deep roots as a time for generosity. As described in this same article, kings, squires, and peasants sat down together to feast. As seen in the image above, clothing was also a reason for the season. This particular white gown is described as “extremely fashionable this season” as well as “graceful and smart.”

Traditions, food, friends, family, and fashion are still important part of life for Delawareans today.

Enjoy reading the over 10K pages about historic Delaware Christmas traditions on Chronicling America!


Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree…

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

In the same way Halloween parties were a popular social event at the end of October, Christmas dances and Christmas balls were popular throughout December in late 19th century Delaware. The Middletown Transcript of December 30, 1893 describes a ball held at the Middletown Opera House, where 125 dancers attended.  The article further describes the dresses worn by attendees down to the material of the dresses worn by the women.  The event had live music performed by the Albert’s Orchestra of Wilmington.

The December 30, 1900 edition of The Sun also mentions two holiday social dance events.  One was in Newark at Caskey Hall, and the other was a masquerade ball in Odd Fellow’s Hall in Hockessin.  Both events are described as being well-attended.

Other references to seasonal dances include the first grand annual ball of the Fame Active Association at Webster’s Dancing Academy in the December 22, 1876 edition of The Morning Herald, which continued until at least 1890 when it was mentioned in the January 1, 1891 edition of the Delaware Gazette and State Journal.

For more information about historic Delaware Christmas traditions and celebrations, search Chronicling America:


Christmas Stories of Historic DE

 by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

Season’s Greetings!

Christmas stories seem to have generated a genre of their own.  Before the internet and mass market paperback publishing, there was publishing in newspapers. The Wilmingtonian issue of December 24th, 1887 is one such example.  This particular issue contains several short stories, both fictional and anecdotal, either depicting a Christmas miracle or relating a tale of the comparatively recently-ended Civil War.

This trend continued throughout the years, and in other papers, as evidenced by the Middletown Transcript of December 23, 1922, which includes a story about a young lady named Regina attempts to acquire a Christmas tree from a supposedly abandoned lot after the tree she had ordered failed to arrive in time for Christmas Eve.  A gentleman named David stops her, says the lot is his, and they find they both have a need to provide a Christmas tree for their young charges…

Find more Christmas stories from historic Delaware newspapers by searching “Christmas” on Chronicling America:

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