Collecting Delaware Books

Delaware City Book and Scientist Michael Pupin

First published April 1993 and updated March 2006.

Michael Pupin
Michael Pupin

Delaware connections show up unexpectedly. When they relate to one of Delaware's small towns, they are of unusual interest.

Michael Pupin's From Immigrant to Inventor, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1924, tells about life as a laborer on a Delaware City farm on pages 45 through 56.

Pupin was a 15-year-old Serbian when he immigrated alone to the United States in 1876. His home town of Idvor near Belgrade existed for one purpose: to absorb the first blows if Turkey should attack Austria through Serbia.

He tells of accepting a farm job and sailing from Philadelphia to Delaware City. On the boat were a number of Delaware farmers, "every one of them wearing a long goatee but no mustache.… Every one of them had the brim of his slouch hat turned down covering his eyes completely. As they conversed, they looked like wooden images they made no gestures." He did not speak English, but apparently mules respond to a universal tongue that Pupin knew. His job was driving wagonloads of manure to the peach orchards.

He was befriended by the farmer's wife and daughter, who taught him English and found him a quick leamer, so much so that they urged him to leave the farm and get an education. To make a long story short, Michael Pupin went on to become a professor at Columbia University, one of America's leading electrical engineering wizards, and confidante of President Wilson.

Most of this book has nothing to do with Delaware. Indeed, the author says its purpose is to "chronicle the rise of idealism in American science." However, the dozen pages about life on a Delaware farm give a fascinating insight.

Pupin's book is easy to find and inexpensive. It was published in numerous editions and given to every boy as inspiration.

There are many biographies of Pupin and lists of his inventions on the Internet. A good place to start is

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