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Eastern Shore photograph collection

Identifier: PP 0083


This collection contains two photograph albums depicting life on Maryland's Eastern Shore, circa 1890-1900. Also included are scenes in Delaware and Pennsylvania.


  • 1890-1900

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Maryland's Eastern Shore peninsula comprises nine counties of Maryland, the entire state of Delaware, and two counties of Virginia, with Pennsylvania directly to the north of the penninsula. The names of Maryland's Eastern Shore counties reflect the early English settlers of the region: for example, Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Dorchester, and Worcester; while the rivers in the region frequently have names taken from Native American languages: Choptank, Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Pocomoke. The creators of these photograph albums had a home in Millington on the Chester River in Kent County, Maryland, at the border of Queen Anne's County.

Prior to the days of highway automobile travel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the connection of this portion of Maryland was strong toward Delaware and Pennsylvania towns in close proximity, and the history of the region shows interconnection among these three present-day states. The early history of Delaware includes Dutch exploration and a settlement at the town of Lewes, on what is now Cape Henlopen, in the 1630s. In 1638, Swedes arrived to establish a colony at present-day Wilmington, but Dutch control was imposed on this settlement with the arrival of Peter Styvesant to the continent in 1655, ending Swedish rule of Delaware. In the period from 1681 until the Revolutionary War, the region saw a struggle for control among William Penn of Pennsylvania and Lord Baltimore of Maryland. Having been granted the Province of Pennsylvania by Britain, Penn sought to control, as well, the lands on either side of the Delaware Bay. Penn and Lord Baltimore and their heirs struggled over the boundaries of Penn’s domain, which dispute continued until the Revolutionary War. In 1776, simultaneous with the Declaration of Independence from Britain, Delaware established itself as a state independent from Pennsylvania, with boundaries as surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon during years 1763-1768.

In the 19th century, the Delaware Railroad ran straight down the center of the penninsula known as the Maryland Eastern Shore, from Wilmington, Delaware to Crisfield, Maryland, with branch lines making stops at Centreville, Chestertown, Oxford, Cambridge, Crisfield, Salisbury, Berlin, and Lewes, Delaware. The region was largely agricultural, with colonial estates which were often large, slave-holding plantations. The Sassafras River, a branch of the Chesapeake Bay, borders Kent and Cecil Counties, with its mouth one mile northwest of Betterton, Maryland.

Wissahickon Creek flows from the area near Lansdale in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, approximately 40 miles south to join the Schuylkill River within Fairmont Park in Philadelphia. The river was once the site of many mills, run-off from which contributed to the pollution of the Schuylkill which was a source of drinking water for Philadelphia; 23 mills on the Wissahickon were forced to close in 1869 in an effort to improve the quality of the city's water supply.


1.0 Linear Feet (1 flat box)

Language of Materials



The photographs remain in the albums.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Edward P. Thatcher, 1983.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of one box with two albums containing, respectively, 37 and 103 photoprints; a total of 140. The photos depict the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in the years circa 1890s. There are many images of rivers and old mills and churches in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, including Unicorn Mills and the Sassafras River in Maryland, a mill and historic site at Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania, and scenes on Wissahickon Creek in or near Philadelphia. A number of images document ocean resort life at Rehobeth, Delaware, and others depict people engaged in recreational activities including boating, crabbing, picnics, skating, or visits to parks. There are also images of African Americans in Maryland.

Guide to the Eastern Shore photograph collection
Under Revision
Katherine Cowan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-25: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States