Dorothy Miller 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
Dorothy Miller was born in Windber, Pennsylvania, in 1931 and received her BS in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University before going on to be an analytical chemist at DuPont. While employed at DuPont, Miller became vocal against the company's acquisition of White Clay Creek land for the intent of building a dam. An avid birder, Miller used her knowledge of the area's flora and fauna and consolidated the field notes of a number of Delaware naturalists to produce a report detailing the proposed dam's effect on wildlife. Miller believed that the best way to protect water resources was by protecting the land around them. It was this belief that influenced her civic involvement in water resource management and other development projects, like the Newark Bypass and the construction of Delaware Park.
Miller joined forces with Don Sharpe of the United Auto Workers and Dennis Neuzil of the Delaware Sierra Club, as well as 22 other organizations to fight to preserve White Clay Creek. Miller also served as a leader in new umbrella organizations, the Coalition for Natural Stream Valleys and the Citizens for White Clay Creek, and was an active member in several of the other civil engagement groups, such as the White Clay Creek Watershed Association.
A longtime resident of Newark, Miller routinely scoured newspapers for sheriff sales of contiguous property that the City of Newark and New Castle County could add to White Clay Creek State Park, including a 7.3-acre piece of land bordering White Clay Creek, Capitol Trail and Cleveland Avenue in 1976. This parcel of land was renamed Dorothy P. Miller Park in July, 2006. Miller passed away in 2016 at the age of 84.Blackwell, Robert. "Dorothy P. Miller." Dorothy Miller Obituary - Wilmington, DE | The News Journal, 26 Feb. 2016, www.legacy.com/obituaries/delawareonline/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=177850066 (accessed October 26, 2018). Biographical information derived from the collection.
In the 1950's, the DuPont Company, concerned about water supply issues in New Castle County, began looking for alternative solutions to supply water for its Newport and Edge Moor Plants. DuPont conducted a feasibility concerning the construction of a reservoir on the White Clay Creek and began encouraging local governments to plan for and build it. In 1956, DuPont purchased the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's land, as well as other properties along the Creek. The proposed White Clay Creek Dam, located at Wedgewood Road in Newark, would have flooded 1,160 acres and supplied 71 million gallons of water a day. In 1984, DuPont, at the suggestion of the National Park Service, donated land to the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania to establish a joint park: White Clay Creek Preserve.
In 1988, the heirs of S. Hallock du Pont announced plans to sell off 850 of the family's 2,000 acre estate, which had been held in trust for future generations. Seeking to limit the loss of open space, Governor Michael Castle began the purchase of 321 acres of the land which would connect Walter Carpenter State Park and the White Clay Creek Preserve to the Middle Run Valley Natural Area, a New Castle County-run park. The purchase was completed in the early 1990s, and in 1995, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. State Park, the Delaware portion of the White Clay Creek Preserve, and the du Pont estate lands were joined together and renamed White Clay Creek State Park.
In 2000, Congress designated the entirety of White Clay Creek watershed as a national Wild and Scenic River, making it the first complete watershed in the nation to receive that designation.
"Watershed History." White Clay Creek Wild & Scenic River, White Clay Wild & Scenic River Program/White Clay Watershed Association, whiteclay.org/history/ (accessed October 26, 2018).Historical information derived from the collection.
The Dorothy Miller papers spans from 1965-2010, with the bulk of material situated within the 1960s and 1970s, at the time of the White Clay Creek Dam proposal. The collection includes notes, research materials, reports on White Clay Creek's flora and fauna, correspondence, speeches, land surveys, maps of the White Clay watershed, and both opinion pieces and news articles from local newspapers.
While the majority of the collection centers around the White Clay Creek Dam proposal and its aftermath, Miller belived that the best way to protect water resources was to protect the surrounding landscape. This inspired her to become involved in land acquisition surrounding White Clay Creek, fighting overdevelopment in Newark specifically, and New Castle County more broadly. The collection also documents Miller's work protecting water resources and monitoring residential/commercial and transportation development projects throughout Newark, such as the Creek Bend subdivision and the proposed Newark Bypass.
The collection is divided into five series:
Series I "Establishing and Maintaining White Clay Creek" contains material relevant to the acquisition, establishment, maintenance, and preservation of White Clay Creek land, as it was Miller's most notable accomplishment.
Series II, "White Clay Creek Dam" (1963-2005) contains material relevant to the White Clay Creek Dam proposal. Within this series are scientific documents, correspondence between organizations like the Sierra Club to government officials, and press publicity which recounts the general opinion of the community via interviews and opinion pieces.
Series III, "Delaware Water Issues", documents various proposed solutions to Delaware's possible water scarcity concern after the White Clay Creek Dam proposal failed. This series includes proposals for reservoirs at multiple sites around Newark, Delaware.
Series IV, "Delaware's Development", highlights road and housing development projects proposed around the city of Newark that impacted White Clay Creek and its surrounding land.
Series V, "Personal" is dedicated to Miller's legacy, encapsulating the community's memories of a woman who made it her life's work to preserve White Clay Creek for the future. The series also includes personal notes and photographs which give insights into Miller's work.
- Box 1-4: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
- Box 5: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons (6 inches)
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize 18" box
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC oversize mapcases
Gift of Dorothy Miller, 2006-2010.
Processed and encoded by Anna Nuzzolese, October 2018.
- White Clay Watershed Association
- E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company
- Coalition for Natural Stream Valleys
- Sierra Club. Delaware Chapter
- Delaware. Department of Transportation
- United States. Army. Corps of Engineers
- Water Resources Agency for New Castle County
- United States. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
- Community Life--Delaware--Newark--History--20th century
- Conservation of natural resources--Delaware
- Economic development
- Transportation--Delaware--History--20th century
- Political participation--United States--History--20th century
- Watershed management
- Water-supply--Delaware--History--20th century
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2018 October 24
- 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 Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
This series includes documents pertaining to the acquisition, establishment, maintenance and preservation of White Clay Creek land. The series reflects the progression of White Clay as it grew in not only physical size but also in distinction, specifically in 2000 when Congress included it in the National Park Service's National Wild and Scenic River program.
This series details the White Clay Creek Dam proposal. Its contents include scientific documents elaborating on the potential effects of a dam on the White Clay landscape, organizational correspondence between local environmental groups and government officials, and press publicity which not only recounts the proposal process, but also highlights the community's stance towards a dam via interviews and opinion pieces.
This subseries includes scientific testing and research done on additional water sources as well as various types of flora and fauna in an effort to assess the effects a dam would have on the area's biotic and abiotic communities.
Includes research done on water sources, like the Christina River Basin, in the area that could potential serve as solutions to the dam.
Reports encapsulate research done on species of flora and fauna found in and around White Clay Creek that were feared to be most vulnerable if the dam proposal were to go through. Noteworthy in this section is the report that Miller herself put together to serve as a reference (found in Folder 32).
Report calls out 33 species of mammals, 27 species of amphibians and reptiles including the endangered bog turtle, 24 species of fish, and 93 species of birds as being potentially endangered by the proposed dam.
This subseries houses all of the documentatin pertaining to various environmental groups, like the Delaware Sierra Club or United Auto Workers, who actively worked within the campaign to stop the dam proposal. Contents of this sub series range from meeting minutes to drafts and final copies of position statements and media releases.
This subseries is a compilation of newspaper clippings and other print media that speak not only to the progression of the decision-making process pertinent to the dam, but also the opinion of the community via opinion pieces, letters to the editor, and interviews.
This series documents the various proposals to counter Delaware's water scarcity issue after the dam proposal failed. The series also includes water management education pieces that narrate a growing dialogue about water issues that begins to flourish throughout the state.
This series details transportation, commercial, and residential develoopment projects that would directly affect White Clay given their geographical proximity to the watershed. Miller's belief that the best way to protect the water was by protecting the land around it greatly influenced her involvement in pushing for stricter regulation of developmental projects.
Highway proposed by the Delaware Division of Highways that would run along White Clay Creek for two miles. After much opposition from environmentalists and residents who lived along the route, the plan was scrapped. In 1980, a scaled-down version of the beltway was proposed for a mile and half south of the original plan.
The Delaware Department of Transportation proposed to replace a 12-foot, 66-foot long bridge that bordered the wildlife preserve and state park with a bridge that measured 40 feet wide by 120 feet long. Environmentalists worried that, along with the immediate lsos of a significant portion of the wildlife preserve, an expanded bridge would influence future highway studies to allow for the widening of roads throughout White Clay Creek Preserve.
This series, dedicated to Miller's legacy, encapsulates the community's memories of a woman who made it her work to preserve White Clay Creek. Her notes, personal photographs, and insights give a greater understanding to the importance of the White Clay Creek proposal, and what it could have meant for the area if not for Miller and her friends' work.