Arden Records, 1894-1977

November 14, 2022
Selections from the Arden Records, 1894-1977. The town of Arden in Brandywine Hundred in northern Delaware was founded in 1900 by Frank Stephens and Will Price, reformers who wanted to create a community based on William Morris's Arts and Crafts ideals and Henry George's Single Tax philosophy. In a Single Tax community, the town owns the land. Individuals and businesses hold land on long-term leases but own any improvements, such as houses and buildings. Arden began as a summer colony but gradually became a year-round town. Ardentown, founded in 1922, and Ardencroft, founded 1950, adjoin Arden. While Arden and Ardentown were open to all, including African Americans, Ardencroft was started with the intention of creating an integrated community. Arden was created as an open community, welcoming people of all economic levels, ethnic and religious groups, and political persuasions. Residents did not have to believe in Single Tax principles but had to accept them in order to hold land. Especially in its early days, Arden had a definite left-wing bent. Residents enjoyed a wide range of community and cultural activities. The Arden Club was founded in 1908 to coordinate community life. Activity groups and committees were called gilds, reflecting Arden's affinity for the "Merrie Old England" of Shakespeare's day. Today, Arden, Ardentown, and Ardencroft are suburbs of Wilmington. Land is still held on Single Tax principles. The collection is divided into nine series covering various aspects of Arden and its founders. Series 1, Town of Arden (6 boxes): minutes of town meetings, 1912-1943; minutes and other papers of trustees, 1914-1963; papers about elections, 1925-1973; financial records, 1908-1975; and assessments, 1910-1970. Series 2, Arden Club (4 boxes and 4 folders): club records, 1909-1974, and scattered papers from various gilds and events, 1911-1969. Series 3, Other Aspects of Cultural and Community Life (5 boxes): Arden Weavers, 1920s-30s; Arden Community Recreation Association, 1954-1970; Arden School, 1942-1972; Arden Building and Loan Association, 1936-1962; Arden Forge, 1929-1935; theater, especially Robin Hood Theater, 1935-1965; photographs. Series 4, Ardentown (1 box): town documents, 1922-1974, with an emphasis on assessments Series 5, Ardencroft (2 boxes): documents from its founding and other town documents, 1949-1958 Series 6, Will Price (4 folders): mainly writings by him, 1912-1922 Series 7, Frank Stephens (7 boxes): general papers, 1894-1962; operetta, Grubb's Corner; materials on anti-vivisection, 1896-1928 Series 8, Donald Stephens (6 boxes): general papers, 1912-1966; appointment calendars and diaries, 1955-1966; Progressive Party, 1951-1952; clippings, 1919-1962; publications on war and peace, 1915-1958 Series 9, Oversize (11 folders and 1 box): land rents from Arden and Ardentown; scrapbooks, 1907-1914
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