Introducing Aunt Delia

Welcome and thanks for taking a look! If you're interested in African American history and genealogy, then we have something in common.

This blog is called "Finding Aunt Delia" because of my quest to properly identify a woman of color in a photograph from my white American family's past. "Aunt Delia" appears in this image, which was taken around 1880 in Norfolk, Va. She is holding my great grandmother, Lois Evalyn Wemple who was born in 1879. Many years after it was taken, my grandmother (Lois's only child), who was then a grown woman herself, identifed the woman as "Aunt Delia" in writing on the back of the photo. Despite being a pretty good researcher, I have not been able to determine Delia's last name, where she lived or how exactly she was associated with my family. But there are many more Delias who I might be able to identify and whose stories can help me and others understand our shared American history.

So the title of this blog is meant to signify my interest in African American genealogy and history, and in particular, research resources, photographs and history in Northern Virginia, and sometimes a little further away, that can help us find out about our ancestors. In future posts, I plan to share some of the stories I've found compelling, some of the challenges I encounter, good books others might want to read, and some of what I've done to find "Aunt Delia."


  1. Wow - fantastic blog, and what an awesome mission. I hope you have great success in this endeavor, and am anxious to read more!

  2. I enjoyed reading your article about Finding Delia. I have a question---could Delia have been a different variation of the name Julia? (If you mis-pronounce the name Julia---it could sound like Delia.) I ask because nearby, in 1880 there was a woman on the same street as your Wemple family. She was a servant in another household. She was about 39 years old.

    The image in your photo reveals a mature woman holding your ancestor who was a toddler. One might wonder if there was a change of employers, could Julia be Delia? Apart from the African American family that lived near your ancestor's home, the other closest African American female who did work as a servant was Julia. But of course that is only a guess, and does not prove anything. Do you know how long Delia worked for the family?

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Karen, and for the great ideas, Angela. I don't know how long Delia was with my family because she doesn't show up in any other photos or letters, though she must have been important to my great grandmother for my grandmother to write down her name so many years later.

    I've looked into Cordelias, Adelias, Bedelias but never Julia! I love what you said about people living nearby because that's what my friend Char Bah suggested, and I found a Celia nearby but I didn't think to look at Julia. So thanks for that tip :)

  4. interesting blog. good luck with finding Delia.

  5. Really nice, informative blog. I was referred to your site today by a Google alert I have for black genealogy and my first thought was why does a white woman have such a vested interested in researching African American genealogy and heritage. Then I read this Oct 2 post. All I can say thank you for making all these resources available. My family is not from Virginia but I will be referring my genealogy group members to your site that do have Virginia roots.

  6. Thank you, Dera, for your comments and for the mention on Afrigeneas :)


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