Account books for a blacksmith shop in Newark, Delaware

Biographical and Historical Notes

Gilbert W. Chambers was born in New Castle County, Delaware, on November 26, 1856, the son of Benjamin Chambers and Sarah Whiteman Chambers. He owned a blacksmith shop on the west side of South College Street, between Main Street and Delaware Avenue just south of Church Lane in Newark, Delaware, from at least the 1890s to the 1920s. His business supplied products and services to individual customers, companies and local government bodies. Chambers did work for Delaware College, now the University of Delaware; the Atlantic Refining Company; the Newark Water Department; White Clay Creek Hundred; and members of the Armstrong, Casho, Cooch, and Dayett families. He married Lydia J. Dickey of Stanton, Delaware, on January 8, 1891. Chambers died on April 19, 1930. His daughter, M. Edna Chambers, a bookkeeper at DuPont, donated these volumes to the University of Delaware Library in 1960.


United States Federal Census for 1920

United States Federal Census for 1930

Delaware Death Records, 1861-1933 (accessed via on January 22, 2018)

Delaware Marriage Records, 1744-1912 (accessed via on January 22, 2018)

Information derived from the collection.

Scope and Contents

These three volumes are account books for the Newark, Delaware, blacksmith shop of Gilbert W. Chambers, kept between 1887 and 1921.

Each volume is a ledger with an alphabetical index of Chambers's customers at the front. Chambers organized each customer's debts and credit payments together, and often carried their accounts forward to later pages in the ledgers. Much of Chambers's work involved shoeing horses and making repairs to carriages, sleighs, wagons, and other vehicles. Chambers also made and repaired tools, produced hardware, and mended various pieces of mechanical equipment. He frequently performed work for Delaware College, especially the school's experimental farm, mechanical department, and chemical department.

Chambers kept Volume 1 between December 31, 1887, and January 1, 1899. The volume is bound with red marbled paper and red leather on the spine and cover corners. A typed note laid in to the first page of the index describes were Chambers's blacksmith shop was located. This ledger contains 288 pages with handwritten entries in black ink.

Volume 2 is bound in cloth and red paper with black stamped designs. The word "LEDGER" is stamped in gold on the spine. There is a black stationer's ticket in the shape of a book affixed to the inside of the front cover. The ticket reads "E.S.R. Butler & Son./STATIONERS/BOOKSELLERS/PRINTERS/ENGRAVERS/421 Market Street/WILMINGTON, DEL." in yellow text. This volume contains 546 pages with handwritten entries in black ink. Pages 547 to 600 are blank. Chambers kept this volume from June 4, 1908, to January 1, 1915.

Chambers kept Volume 3 between January 1, 1914, and September 11, 1921. The volume is bound in cloth with black stamped designs, and has red paper on the cover corners, and red and black paper on the spine. The word "LEDGER" is stamped in gold on the spine. A stamp on the inside of the front cover advertises "Vernon's No. 12 Special Flat Opening Blank Books." The book contains 350 pages with handwritten entries in black ink. Pages 351 to 468 are blank.