Slideshow Image for First and Last

About This Exhibition:

Despite being the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787, Delaware refused to sign the 13th Amendment to formally abolish slavery until the 20th century. In First and Last: Delaware’s Fraught History with Slavery and Abolition, explore the state’s complex history with slavery and abolition.  

Visitors will learn about slavery and colonization efforts in the state; Black Delawareans’ involvement in the underground railroad; and the notorious Patty Cannon gang, who kidnapped, sold and killed free and enslaved Black people in the state. Materials on view include books, letters, photographs, deeds of sale for enslaved persons, newspaper ads for runaway slaves, copies of Delaware legislative bills, and more.


Curated by Arline Wilson, Senior Assistant Librarian and Digital Humanities and Africana Scholar in Special Collections, and Britney Henry, Ph.D. student in the Department of English.