region, interacted in both peace and war with the resident Native American
From the beginning of the 17th century to the American Revolution and beyond,
Lower Delmarva, anchored in Old Somerset County (today's Somerset, Worcester,
Wicomico counties, Maryland and southern Sussex County, Delaware), was a major
center of European immigration to North America. The people who entered the new
through its Chesapeake Gateway developed farms and towns
tribes, intermarried and formed extended kinship groups, and created families
descendants are now scattered throughout the United States and beyond. The
total past and current numbers of descendants may well number in the millions. From this
perspective, Old Somerset, including its immigration relationships with
Northampton and Accomack Counties on Virginia’s portions of the Eastern Shore,
served as an early "Ellis Island" for America.
In colonial times, the Peninsula became home to residents whose origin
included both Africa and Northern Europe. Certain contemporary Delmarva speech
patterns retain, more strongly than any other part of America, the 17th-century
English settlers' dialect. And the occupation of many a Delmarvan,
"following the water," is modeled upon that of those same English
settlers whose West Country fishing and harvesting skills are being used by
modern-day watermen in forms remarkably little changed over three centuries and
The Delmarva Peninsula has contributed significantly to the development of
American life. Key roles were played in the nation's colonial, federal,
19th-century, Civil War, industrial and contemporary periods. Yet because of its
geographic separation from the Eastern Seaboard corridor, Delmarva may well be
America’s most important, yet least studied and understood region.
Delmarva History Online offers three thematic portals for exploring Delmarva's rich history and culture:
Discover Delmarva through the people who have inhabited the peninsula from the period of time prior to European contact to the middle of the 20th century. A collection of biographies, articles, databases, photos, and links to external resources.
Explore the history and culture of Delmarva by location. A collection of maps, information, and historical and research resources for the Delmarva Peninsula and its states, counties, hundreds, cities, and towns.
Trace the effects of national and global events on Delmarva. A collection of
resources spanning the colonial era, the revolutionary period, the American
Civil War, the Gilded Age, the modern era, etc.