SENATE BILL NO. 127
AN ACT AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, DIVISION OF HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS TO NAME THE HALL OF RECORDS BUILDING LOCATED ON THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF DUKE OF YORK STREET AND LEGISLATIVE AVENUE, DOVER, DELAWARE, AS THE LEON DEVALINGER, JR. HALL OF RECORDS BUILDING IN HONOR OF LEON DEVALINGER, THE STATE'S FIRST FULL TIME STATE ARCHIVIST AND IN COMMEMORATION OF THE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF THE BUILDING BUILT FIFTY YEARS AGO TO HOUSE THE STATE'S TREASURED AND HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS FOR POSTERITY.
WHEREAS, these initial whereas clauses are complete or partial quotes from the State Sentinel of 1939, an old Dover newspaper now extinct; and
WHEREAS, "Delaware's new Hall of Records Building was officially opened to the public on Dover Day, May 6, 1939", which coincidentally on May 6, 1989 is official Old Dover Day, marking the building's Golden Anniversary- 50 years; and
WHEREAS, the building is built of red brick with architectural lines and masses in conformity with the local colonial tradition"; and
WHEREAS, the new building was located within easy walking distance of the heart of town and not very far away from the State House"; and
WHEREAS, the new building was under the direct charge of Leon deValinger, Assistant Archivist"; and
WHEREAS, "initially the building housed the Corporation and Franchise Tax Department and the State Archives Department"; and
WHEREAS, the first floor had offices for the State Archives Department, Secretary of State, a small private office for the Governor, with research rooms and vaults, there was space in the lobby for the display of the State Charter and other documents; the second floor was devoted to the Corporation and Franchise Tax Departments; in the basement there were workrooms for the Archives Department and vaults"; and
WHEREAS, in 1939 the Journal Every Evening newspaper of Wilmington reported a story that read "State Archives rises from the cellar of the Old State House to a $160,000 building which brought Delaware from the dark ages of record preservation to one of envy in the nation"; and
WHEREAS, the Hall of Records was built through P.W.A. assistance and was considered one of the finest archives buildings in the East; and
WHEREAS, Leon deValinger, Jr., a native of Middletown, Delaware was born in 1905 and his family moved to Wilmington where he attended Grammar School 28 and P.S. 15 and graduated from Wilmington High School; and
WHEREAS, Mr. deValinger went on to the University of Delaware where in 1930 he received his Bachelor's Degree in history; and
WHEREAS, while at the University of Delaware, the name Leon deValinger came to the attention of Dr. Georg, H. Ryden, a history professor who served as part-time State Archivist and upon graduation from Delaware, Leon went to work for Dr. Ryden as Assistant State Archivist in 1930; and
WHEREAS, in 1935 Leon received his Master's Degree from Delaware, his thesis was the first comprehensive survey of colonial government in Delaware; and
WHEREAS, when Leon deValinger went to work for the State Archives it was located in the basement of the Old State House and the colonial records of the State were in absolutely deplorable condition; and
WHEREAS, Leon deValinger led the fight for construction of the State's first well-designed depository for historical records which resulted in the construction of the Hall of Records In 1938; and
WHEREAS, Leon worked closely with architects in designing the building and convinced the State that it was essential to devote much of the space in the building to fire-proof vaults for record storage; and
WHEREAS, in 1941 Leon deValinger succeeded Dr. Ryden as State Archivist becoming Delaware's first full-time archivist and during his career as archivist built what now comprises the modern Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs from ground up; and
WHEREAS, there are many, many achievements credited to Leon deValinger, some of which include the Delaware State Museum, becoming its first Director; saving the John Dickinson Mansion from destruction, to include its purchase and restoration; brought about the acquisition by the State of many other historical structures which make up the State's vast historic sites; and
WHEREAS, it was in the 1930's that Leon deValinger was instrumental in erecting historical markers throughout the State; and
WHEREAS, during Leon deValinger's tenure as State Archivist he held a host of other responsible positions such as the Mason-Dixon Boundary Coordinator, head of the Buildings and Grounds Commission for the City of Dover, Chief of Protocol for the State, Director of the Bonds for Delaware Veterans of the Vietnam War and has held every national office in the Society of American Archivists; and
WHEREAS, in 1964, Leon deValinger was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by his Alma Mater, the University of Delaware, where he also taught many summer courses in Delaware history; and
WHEREAS, on July T5, 1971 Leon deValinger retired as State Archivist after serving in the position for 38 years; and
WHEREAS, not entirely satisfied with retirement in 1971 he became Executive Director of the Delaware League of Local Governments, a position he held until he retired in 1988; and
WHEREAS, Leon deValinger has contributed to the State of Delaware his talents, his dedication and deep interest in preserving and protecting our historic and natural heritage for posterity purposes and he is most deserving of this distinct honor of naming the Hall of Records the "Leon deValinger, Jr. Hall of Records Building" in deep appreciation for a life time of work.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. The Department of State, Division of Historic and Cultural Affairs is hereby authorized and directed to name the Hall of Records Building located on the northeast corner of Duke of York Street and Legislative Avenue, Dover, Delaware as The Leon deValinger, Jr. Hall of Records Building in honor of Leon deValinger, Jr., Delaware's first full-time State Archivist on this Fiftieth Anniversary of the building on May 6, 1989, the officially declared Old Dover Day for 1989.
Section 2. The Department of State, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is hereby authorized and directed to purchase and/or construct appropriate markers, plaques, or other designators indicating the name of the building to be the "Leon deValinger, Jr. Hall of Records Building", such signs and/or plaques to be in conformity with aesthetic architectural signs in the capitol complex area.
Approved May 4, 1989