Dorothy Miller papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Dorothy Miller (1931-2016)

Dorothy Miller was born in Windber, Pennsylvania, in 1931 and received her BS in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University before going on to be an analytical chemist at DuPont. While employed at DuPont, Miller became vocal against the company's acquisition of White Clay Creek land for the intent of building a dam. An avid birder, Miller used her knowledge of the area's flora and fauna and consolidated the field notes of a number of Delaware naturalists to produce a report detailing the proposed dam's effect on wildlife. Miller believed that the best way to protect water resources was by protecting the land around them. It was this belief that influenced her civic involvement in water resource management and other development projects, like the Newark Bypass and the construction of Delaware Park.

Miller joined forces with Don Sharpe of the United Auto Workers and Dennis Neuzil of the Delaware Sierra Club, as well as 22 other organizations to fight to preserve White Clay Creek. Miller also served as a leader in new umbrella organizations, the Coalition for Natural Stream Valleys and the Citizens for White Clay Creek, and was an active member in several of the other civil engagement groups, such as the White Clay Creek Watershed Association.

A longtime resident of Newark, Miller routinely scoured newspapers for sheriff sales of contiguous property that the City of Newark and New Castle County could add to White Clay Creek State Park, including a 7.3-acre piece of land bordering White Clay Creek, Capitol Trail and Cleveland Avenue in 1976. This parcel of land was renamed Dorothy P. Miller Park in July, 2006. Miller passed away in 2016 at the age of 84.


Blackwell, Robert. "Dorothy P. Miller." Dorothy Miller Obituary - Wilmington, DE | The News Journal, 26 Feb. 2016, (accessed October 26, 2018).

Biographical information derived from the collection.

White Clay Creek

In the 1950's, the DuPont Company, concerned about water supply issues in New Castle County, began looking for alternative solutions to supply water for its Newport and Edge Moor Plants. DuPont conducted a feasibility concerning the construction of a reservoir on the White Clay Creek and began encouraging local governments to plan for and build it. In 1956, DuPont purchased the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's land, as well as other properties along the Creek. The proposed White Clay Creek Dam, located at Wedgewood Road in Newark, would have flooded 1,160 acres and supplied 71 million gallons of water a day. In 1984, DuPont, at the suggestion of the National Park Service, donated land to the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania to establish a joint park: White Clay Creek Preserve.

In 1988, the heirs of S. Hallock du Pont announced plans to sell off 850 of the family's 2,000 acre estate, which had been held in trust for future generations. Seeking to limit the loss of open space, Governor Michael Castle began the purchase of 321 acres of the land which would connect Walter Carpenter State Park and the White Clay Creek Preserve to the Middle Run Valley Natural Area, a New Castle County-run park. The purchase was completed in the early 1990s, and in 1995, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. State Park, the Delaware portion of the White Clay Creek Preserve, and the du Pont estate lands were joined together and renamed White Clay Creek State Park.

In 2000, Congress designated the entirety of White Clay Creek watershed as a national Wild and Scenic River, making it the first complete watershed in the nation to receive that designation.


"Watershed History." White Clay Creek Wild & Scenic River, White Clay Wild & Scenic River Program/White Clay Watershed Association, (accessed October 26, 2018).

Historical information derived from the collection.

Scope and Contents

The Dorothy Miller papers spans from 1965-2010, with the bulk of material situated within the 1960s and 1970s, at the time of the White Clay Creek Dam proposal. The collection includes notes, research materials, reports on White Clay Creek's flora and fauna, correspondence, speeches, land surveys, maps of the White Clay watershed, and both opinion pieces and news articles from local newspapers.

While the majority of the collection centers around the White Clay Creek Dam proposal and its aftermath, Miller belived that the best way to protect water resources was to protect the surrounding landscape. This inspired her to become involved in land acquisition surrounding White Clay Creek, fighting overdevelopment in Newark specifically, and New Castle County more broadly. The collection also documents Miller's work protecting water resources and monitoring residential/commercial and transportation development projects throughout Newark, such as the Creek Bend subdivision and the proposed Newark Bypass.

The collection is divided into five series:

Series I "Establishing and Maintaining White Clay Creek" contains material relevant to the acquisition, establishment, maintenance, and preservation of White Clay Creek land, as it was Miller's most notable accomplishment.

Series II, "White Clay Creek Dam" (1963-2005) contains material relevant to the White Clay Creek Dam proposal. Within this series are scientific documents, correspondence between organizations like the Sierra Club to government officials, and press publicity which recounts the general opinion of the community via interviews and opinion pieces.

Series III, "Delaware Water Issues", documents various proposed solutions to Delaware's possible water scarcity concern after the White Clay Creek Dam proposal failed. This series includes proposals for reservoirs at multiple sites around Newark, Delaware.

Series IV, "Delaware's Development", highlights road and housing development projects proposed around the city of Newark that impacted White Clay Creek and its surrounding land.

Series V, "Personal" is dedicated to Miller's legacy, encapsulating the community's memories of a woman who made it her life's work to preserve White Clay Creek for the future. The series also includes personal notes and photographs which give insights into Miller's work.