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Frank R. Zebley papers


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Frank R. Zebley was a Delaware native, author, and Speaker in the Delaware House of Representatives in 1938.

He was born in January, 1883 in Wilmington, Delaware, to Lewis Atwood (d. circa 1897) and Katherine Price Zebley (b. 1850). His father was employed at one time as a car builder and manager with the Pullman Palace Car Co. in Wilmington, and worked variously as a carpenter and general laborer for other local companies as well. Frank graduated from Wilmington High School in 1898, after which he found employment as a machinist in the Delaware Machine Works. Sometime between 1906 and 1912 he acquired a degree in mechanical engineering from the International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, PA, and by 1912, the Wilmington City Directory lists Frank Zebley as a contractor and builder.

Frank Zebley was also an active supporter of the Republican party, and generally opposed to New Deal liberalism. He had been a member of the Young Men's Republican Club, and in the 1930s had embarked upon a political career, winning a seat as Speaker in the Delaware House of Representatives in 1938. According to a note in his scrapbook, however, Zebley felt betrayed by his party's leaders (for reasons not divulged), and in 1940 he retired in disgust.

During the 1930s he spent a great deal of his leisure time traveling extensively around Delaware, and wrote several books based on these experiences:

Along the Brandywine (1940), and The Churches of Delaware (1947). He died in 1960.

Index (soundex) to the population schedules of the 12th census of the United States, 1900, Delaware. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1986?The Wilmington City Directory. Wilmington, DE: s.n.Zebley, Frank R. Along the Brandywine. Wilmington, DE: William M. Cann, 1940.Zebley, Frank R. Churches of Delaware: a history, in brief, of the nearly 900 churches in Delaware as located by the author. Wilmington, DE: s.n., 1947.Historical and biographical information derived from the collection.

The Frank R. Zebley papers span the period 1897-1950, and consists of .5 linear feet of material comprising correspondence, business of the Delaware state legislature, legal and financial business of the estate of Alexander C. Rodgers, a scrapbook, and ephemera. This is a very small collection of personal papers with large lacunae that make it difficult to piece together a narrative of Zebley's life.

Mention of his family members are made only briefly in his two books, and in a 1916 newspaper clipping regarding the death of Elizabeth Frazier (as three of Frank's brothers were pallbearers). It is also uncertain how he became active in politics, what offices he held before 1938, or why he retired in 1940. In some ways, the collection raises more questions than it answers. For example, the newspaper clippings pasted to the spine of the scrapbook which read "Personal 3" suggest that there may be at least two other scrapbooks which are not extant, and his seemingly great interest in professional wrestlers, as implied by the numerous clippings of articles and photographs found on the last pages of the scrapbook, is curious.

Much of the correspondence dates to his term in the Delaware House of Representatives, and includes numerous requests for jobs and legislation. Among the papers is also found a list of the members of the House's 107th assembly, as well as a breakdown of the various committees on which these individuals sat.

Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Gift of Harold W. T. Purnell, 1963.

Processed by Arthur Siegel, November 1998. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, February 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly, June 2015, and Tiffany Saulter, November 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2010 February 19
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Scrapbook, circa 1897-1919.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

All items are pasted onto the pages of this black, hard-cover scrapbook. On the spine are pasted two newspaper clippings which read "personal 3." Included are invitations, newspaper clippings, a sketch, a receipt, business cards, train tickets, memoranda, bulletins, and notes and calculations. Also included are:

  1. three report cards from Wilmington High School (1897 & 1899), and signed by "L.A. Zebley" and "Mrs. R.P. Zebley"
  2. a Christmas day assembly program for Wilmington High School (December 23, 1898)
  3. a certificate of purchase of a Mechanical Engineering scholarship from the International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, PA (October 8, 1906)
  4. a membership card for the Young Men's Republican Club
  5. a certificate for election as Inspector of the Sixth District in Wilmington (June 23, 1910)
  6. a certificate of election as Registrar for the Sixth Election District in Wilmington (July 13, 1910)
  7. a membership certificate to the National Publicity Society (June 10, 1915)
  8. a 1916 funeral notice for Elizabeth Frazier (wife of Charles Frazier) an army registration card (September 12, 1918)
  9. a certificate of "Appointment by the Governor as Honorary Delegate / Atlantic Congress / for a League of Nations" (January 27, 1919), and signed by Governor John Townsend of Delaware
  10. a book jacket to "The Churches of Delaware," which was authored by Zebley himself
Physical Description

36 pp.

Scope and Contents

Included is correspondence with the Wilmington Department of Public Safety, as well as letters to Zebley during his period as a member of the Delaware House of Representatives. These letters ask for personal favors from individuals, organizations, and companies; support for particular causes; and endorsements. In addition, several are letters of application for employment on his staff. The correspondence which does not concern Zebley directly is arranged together under the heading "miscellaneous."

Physical Description

104 items

Department of Public Safety, 1930.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence to and from the Wilmington Department of Public Safety concerning the investigation of traffic dangers on the corner of 6th and Market streets, and the attempt by Zebley to have appropriate traffic signs placed there. Also included are numerous newspaper clippings regarding this matter.

Physical Description

29 items

1938 January & December.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence from the Delaware SPCA, the State Highway Department, the Kent County Republican Coalition Committee, the Wilmington Star, the State Board of Health, and two from the Office of Auditor of Accounts.

Physical Description

17 items

1939 January.
Box 2 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence from the Delaware Department of Public Instruction, the City of Wilmington Department of Public Safety, the State of Delaware Mother's Pension Committee, the Recorder of New Castle County, the Delaware Anti-Tuberculosis Society, the National Get-out-the-Vote Club, and the Coalition of Conservative Democrats and Republicans. This last group sought endorsement from Zebley in their effort to fight against "New Deal radicalism."

Physical Description

33 items

1939 February.
Box 2 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence from the Brandywine Archers; Senator John Townsend of Delaware; the Delaware Safety Council; the State College for Colored Students; and four typed but unsigned letters by Zebley, one of which was addressed to Senator Townsend.

Physical Description

16 items

Miscellaneous, 1938-1939.
Box 2 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence from William C. Northrop to Henry M. Canby; H.V. Holloway to the Boards of Education of the City of Wilmington; William Ball to William Kent; C.P. Holcomb to the Hon. Ellwood J. Turner (in which Zebley is mentioned); and N.D. Rand, President of the Brandywine Archers to Leonard K. Yerger, President of the Board of Fish and Game Commission.

Physical Description

5 items

Estate of Samuel Franklin Ewart, 1939 January-February.
Box 2 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Includes four autographed letters typed by T.L Ewart, son of Samuel F. Ewart. Two of these were addressed to Zebley, and the other two were addressed to the Delaware State Legislature as a whole. These concern a complaint by T.L Ewart against the mismanagement of estate finances by banks and trust companies (particularly the estate of his own father), and the failure of the courts to act on behalf of beneficiaries. Ewart is petitioning the legislature to investigate the problem.

Physical Description

4 items

Legislative Business, 1938-1939.
Box 2 Folder F8
Scope and Contents

Includes an eight-page list of committee members in the Delaware legislature; correspondence regarding House Bill 321; correspondence and charts regarding fiscal appropriations to Delaware public schools for 1939-41; a two-page list of members of the 107th Assembly of the Delaware House of Representatives; a two-page copy of a resolution passed by the State Board of Trustees of the Delaware State Hospital; and a three-page suggested procedure for organization of the Delaware House of Representatives.

Physical Description

8 items

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence, receipts, and legal and financial business regarding this estate, of which Frank Zebley was named executor. Also included are some personal items of Alexander Rodgers, such as a diver's licence and social security card. It is clear from the receipts and correspondence that Rodgers had been very ill towards the end of his life, and suffered from several heart attacks in the weeks before he died on February 23, 1949.

Physical Description

97 items

Correspondence, 1949-1950.
Box 2 Folder F9
Scope and Contents

Includes a letter from Mary C. Taunt (in Los Angeles, CA); two from Alice I. Watson; two from Emma Rodgers; and one from "A.J.C." All but the last of these were hand-written. Alexander Rodgers had been staying with Mary Taunt before he died, and her letter to Zebley vividly recounts Rodgers' last days.

Physical Description

6 items

Receipts, 1948-1950.
Box 2 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

For hospital care, ambulance service, train tickets, register of wills, tax receipts, funeral expenses, and deposit to the Security Trust Company.

Physical Description

22 items

Legal, 1949-1950.
Box 2 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

Includes a will and letters testamentary of Alexander Rodgers; an inventory list and statement for the Register of Wills and Inheritance Tax Report; a petition by Zebley to the Register of Wills; and releases from Emma C. Rodgers, Robert L. and Elizabeth E. Rodgers, Mary C. Taunt, and Alice Watson, along with accompanying correspondence. The releases certified that Zebley, as executor, paid these individuals the money that Rodgers had bequeathed to them.

Physical Description

10 items

Financial, 1944-1950.
Box 2 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Includes cancelled checks; bank statements; deposit slips; a hardbound checkbook from the Wilmington Trust Co. (with 14 check stubs from March 1949 to April 1950); an estate settlement; tax forms; an estate inventory; a bankbook from the Wilmington Savings Fund Society (1944-1950); miscellaneous calculations; and a letter to Alexander Rodgers from the Social Security Administration regarding his benefits claim.

Physical Description

59 items

Personal Items.
Box 2 Folder F13
Scope and Contents

Included are several cards on which are written the names and addresses of various individuals; Alexander Rodgers' social security card; an army registration certificate (September 12, 1918); a driver's licence (June 13, 1946); an employee I.D. card with the Wiltex Co.; and a membership card with the Past Sachem's Association of Delaware.

Physical Description

11 items

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