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Elbert Chance papers

Identifier: MSS 0326

Scope and Content Note

The Elbert Chance (1926– ) collection consists of .33 linear feet and spans the dates 1987–1990. The collection is comprised of preservation photocopies of several episodes of “Newark As it Was,” Chance’s weekly column which appeared in the Wilmington News Journal’s Compass section from 1987–1992. Also included in the Chance collection are preservation photocopies of an article special to Compass which salutes Newark’s Aetna Hose, Hook, and Ladder Company for a century of fire-fighting service. Additionally, the collection contains a typescript of a speech written and delivered by Elbert Chance on the fiftieth anniversary of Newark High School’s graduating class of 1943.


  • Creation: 1987–1990


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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,

Biographical Note

Thomas Elbert Chance was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 21, 1926. He attended Henry C. Conrad High School in Wilmington and upon his graduation, matriculated into Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, where he studied for a semester before entering the U.S. Army. Chance served for twenty-one months as Sergeant-Major in the 63rd Infantry Regiment, touring both the Phillipines and Korea during that time. Upon his honorable discharge, Chance returned to Oberlin College to complete his freshman year, after which he ventured to New York City and received private voice instruction for two years.

In 1949, Chance enrolled at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, and worked as a student assistant to the Director of Public Relations while pursuing a course of study in theater. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1952 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Dramatic Arts and Speech, after completing a senior thesis on the history of theater in Delaware.

Upon graduation, Chance was hired by the University of Delaware to fill a unique joint appointment; working duly as Assistant to the Director of Public Relations and as the Sports Information Director from 1952 to 1954. While working as the Sports Information Director, Chance was approached by then University President, John Perkins, who offered Chance the opportunity to announce for the Blue Hen football matches. Chance accepted the proposal and has been the exclusive voice of the fighting Blue Hens for the past forty-four years. Chance worked as the Director of Public Relations from 1954 to 1956, and headed the combined offices of Public and Alumni Relations from 1956 to 1959.

In July 1969, the formerly interlinked offices of public relations, sports publicity, and alumni functions became autonomous as a result of the University’s expansion in physical size, an increase in student population, and a doubling of alumni contributions. Chance assumed the Directorship of Alumni Relations and maintained this position until his retirement in September 1985. Since the onset of Chance’s employment with the University in 1952, the Office of Alumni Relations has received several national awards and citations for excellence in fund raising, alumni support, alumni magazine publishing, and a 1971 citation from the American Alumni Council recognizing improvements in alumni programs.

Throughout his employment with the Universty of Delaware, Elbert Chance continued his formal education, receiving a Masters degree in 1959 for which he wrote a thesis on the history of horse racing in Delaware. Chance’s thesis was used as primary source material by Delaware race track officials when planning the restructuring of the race park in the early 1960s.

In August 1963, Elbert Chance and John D. Garvick co-authored A Brief History of Football at the University of Delaware, 1889–1963. The spiral-bound book was released by the offices of Alumni and Public Relations and contains historical text, accompanied by scorecards, for almost every game played between 1889 through 1963.

In 1983, Chance presented a series of lectures on the history of football at the University of Delaware for the weekly meetings hosted by the Newark Touchdown Club. Chance’s lectures were so successful that he was asked to convert his stories into print. The result was the Blue Hen Chronicles, a written and pictorial history of Delaware football published in November 1983. After the formation of the Centennial Football Committee, Elbert Chance was asked to update the Blue Hen Chronicles. The updated publication, titled One Hundred Years of Delaware Football, was published in 1989 by the University of Delaware Press.

Elbert Chance retired from the Office of Alumni Relations in 1985, but he remains active in Alumni affairs by periodically writing articles for The Messenger, the University of Delaware Alumni newspaper, and participating in local Alumni functions, such as the Campus Beautification Project. Chance was also a founding member of the Blue and Gold Club, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Newark Country Club.

In 1987, Chance began writing “Newark As it Was,” a weekly column appearing in the Compass section of the Wilmington News Journal until 1992. Chance’s column was a retrospect of Newark, Delaware, focusing on the cultural, social, and physical development of the city, the impact of national and international events on Newark’s citizens, and the evolution of the University of Delaware. In “Newark As it Was,” Chance revisits Newark’s past at fifty and twenty year intervals, reporting on events which dominated the local headlines in a given week.

University of Delaware graduation ceremonies and prominent speakers, City of Newark housing ordinances, natural disasters and the resulting structural and human damages inflicted on the area, and the effect of World War II on the state of Delaware were themes that Chance reflected upon regularly in the weekly column. Also of recurring interest to Chance was the progress of the University of Delaware’s study abroad program in France, highway construction and the appearance of new businesses in Newark, the activities of local clubs and councils, and noteworthy activities in local high schools.

Currently, Elbert Chance is living in Newark, Delaware, and he continues to announce for the fighting Blue Hens at the University of Delaware. Chance regularly contributes opinion editorials to the Newark Post, and continues to write articles on dramatic theater and Delaware football.

Chance, Elbert. Blue Hen Chronicles: a narrative and pictorial history of the Fighting Blue Hens football teams. Newark, Del.: Newark Touchdown Club, 1984. Chance, Elbert. One Hundred Years of Delaware Football. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1989. Lewis, Michael. “Elbert Chance: the Only Voice of Delaware Stadium.” The Review. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware, October 31, 1995.


.33 linear foot (1 box)


The Elbert Chance (1926– ) collection consists of preservation photocopies of several articles written by Chance for the local Wilmington, Delaware periodical News Journal.


Gift of Elbert Chance, 1993.

Shelving Summary

  • Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Processed by Jennifer Paul, 1996. Encoded by Natalie Baur, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly and Tiffany Saulter, October 2015.

Finding aid for Elbert Chance papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 05
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA