WSFA Records


The records of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, the DAM’s founding organization, constitute the earliest records in the archival collection. They date from 1912, when the Society first began to meet. The materials document the Society’s efforts “to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of and cultivation in the Fine Arts in the State of Delaware by the establishment of schools and other methods of instruction; by books and other publications; by the establishment of a gallery or galleries of paintings and sculpture; and by such other methods as in the judgment of its members may further the promotion of the cultivation of the Fine Arts.”

Later records reflect the shift in the raison d’ être of the Society as it focused on the construction of the Delaware Art Center building. Founding members of the Society represented in the records include Mr. and Mrs. Charles Copeland, Mr. and Mrs. George P. Bissell, Emily P. Bissell, Stanley M. Arthurs, and Frank E. Schoonover. Other prominent members include Gertrude Brincklé and Clifford W. Ashley.

The records are comprised of documents of historic and legal importance, such as the Society’s first charter, constitution, and by-laws. The records include letters of subscription to the First Purchase Fund, rental agreements with and legal documents pertaining to the Wilmington Institute Free Library, and papers of the early founders. Other highlights include the minutes from the Special Meeting of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts (October 27, 1936), correspondence and newspaper clippings chronicling the development of the first capital campaign and the subsequent opening of the Delaware Art Center in 1938.