Skip to Content

Delmo Housing Corporation Records

Identifier: WUA-wua00107

Series 01: Delmo Housing Corporation Records These Delmo Housing Corporation records come from the office of Harold C. Hanke, a St. Louis attorney who was a long-time treasurer of the Corporation.  They cover every aspect of the organization, from home purchase records to staffing issues to budget and all other areas, and give an excellent overview of the work of the Corporation.  They cover the years 1945 to 1976. Series 02: Family Health Services These files, from the office of Harold C. Hanke, cover the development and maintenance of the Family Health Services, which provided health care for the residents of the Delmo communities.  These records cover 1970-1976.

Series 03: Ralph E. Pumphrey Files Ralph E. Pumphrey, professor emeritus of Social Work at Washington University, served for a number of years on the Delmo Board of Directors. These files are a record of his involvement with Delmo.  Also included is a copy of a draft of "Delmo Saga" by W. Wilder Towle, a longtime Board member who wrote "Delmo Saga" as an account of the history of the corporation's beginnings.


  • 1945-1989

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


10.50 linear feet

11 boxes

Historical Information

The Delmo Housing Corporation was formed in 1945 when ten Farm Security Administration communities were being sold. In order to prevent these homes from being sold to commercial interests with a resulting loss of migrant housing, a group of concerned people came together as the Delmo Housing Corporation, a charitable and educational corporation. Among the founding members were Bishop William Scarlett, Henry V. Putzel, Edwin P. Coleman, Jr., Oliver M. Langenberg, and Rev. Charles C. Wilson. They raised some of the down payment money and collected small down payments from the occupants of the homes, and were able to purchase nine of the communities (in 1954 an additional village was added). These homes were then purchased by the tenants at modest prices, allowing them to become homeowners, often for the first time.

In each village a community center, village council and women's club was developed, and some villages also have thrift shops where donated items are sold, with profits generally going to community improvements. Programs and assistance for residents included adult education, health education, high school scholarships, college loans, and special loans and grants. Many churches sent young members to Delmo on work camps, and these high school and college students helped renovate buildings, create playgrounds, and other such projects.  From the start the communities were encouraged to be self-governed, maintaining their own community land and buildings and making the decisions on community improvements. Health services for residents were developed, including the Migrant Health Services and the Family Health Services. In 1995 Delmo celebrated its 50th year. The Corporation, once based in St. Louis, is now based in the Bootheel, but still has many active St. Louisans.

Method of Acquisition

This material was donated to University Archives by Harold C. Hanke and Ralph E. Pumphrey.  Some material was transferred from Smith, Hanke, and Batts (Attorneys and Counselors) on August 26, 1975 and six boxes were sent from Ralph Pumphrey on June 29, 1976.

Processing Information

Processed by Jay Kempen in November 2005.  Updated by Gretchen Neidhardt in September 2010.

Delmo Housing Corporation Records
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 February 26: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Local History Collecting Area

Miranda Rectenwald
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495