By Tim Slavin, director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
On Tuesday, we gave back to the community.
As readers may know, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs benefits from more than 13,000 volunteer hours each year. In recognition of that generosity, a number of division team members went to the Food Bank of Delaware in Milford on July 28, 2015 and donated our morning to helping their noble cause of trying to eliminate hunger in Delaware.
Greg Buchman, Gwen Davis, Betsy Gant, Ed Gillespie, Edward McWilliams, Lynn Riley, Suzanne Savery, Desiree Williams, Rachel Wootten and I spent the morning sorting and packing canned and boxed goods donated the evening before by attendees of the Delaware State Fair, then shucked and cleaned hundreds of ears of corn and then cleaned and stacked a hundred or so coolers. (And, yes, we have pictures to prove it!)
Thanks to those who volunteered and special thanks to Rachel Wootten, our volunteer services coordinator, for putting all this together. I’m very proud of the work that we do at the division, and am grateful for the values we bring to our jobs every day.
By Rachel Wootten, volunteer coordinator, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
[Editor’s note: Retired pharmacist and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs volunteer Howard Fulcher of Dover will be leaving Delaware in August 2015 to return to his native New Jersey. Fulcher served as a division volunteer since April 2011.]
As I prepared to write this article for the division’s August newsletter, I didn’t know what to say. I knew how much of a positive impact Howard has had on the Johnson Victrola Museum, and in turn, on the division. I knew how much visitors at the museum (especially those from New Jersey) enjoyed Howard and his tours. I knew how much everyone would miss him. I knew how much I would miss him. I knew all these things; however I didn’t know where to start. Writing this article meant Howard really was leaving and I just didn’t want to believe it.
For more than four years, Howard has not only contributed over 730 volunteer hours at the museum, he has also been active in programming and in serving on the Community Engagement Committee that is drafting a marketing plan for the division. He has come into the museum to work countless times, when he was not scheduled, just to help his colleagues on a busy day. He has participated in almost every division event and has always gone the extra mile in everything he has done. When talking to historic-site interpreter Jackie Collins about Howard’s time at the museum, she fondly remembers working on the Fats Waller program with him in February of 2015. She recalls the amount of time and effort Howard put into his research and preparation for the program and how dedicated he was. When speaking with other colleagues about Howard’s Delaware departure there was a common theme—Howard will be greatly missed and certainly never forgotten.
From all of us, thank you Howard! We wish you nothing but the best in New Jersey. You will always be remembered as an important contributor to the division’s volunteer program. Your smiling face, your jolly spirit and your constant jokes will always be cherished. I know I speak for everyone when I say this but the Johnson Victrola Museum family will not be the same without you.
On Saturday, July 18, 2015, 18 incoming Delaware State University freshmen presented a series of interactive, history-related activities at four historic sites located in Dover, Del. The programs were developed as a partnership between the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Volunteer Program, the First State Heritage Park and Delaware State University’s Jumpstart Program, an academic-enrichment and leadership-development initiative that provides opportunities for academically advanced, incoming freshmen to get a “jumpstart” on their college careers.
As part of the partnership, the 18 participating students were divided into teams with a separate team assigned to each of the four sites. During the activity-development process, which took place from late-June to mid-July 2015, team members were given free rein to discuss any topic related to their respective site’s history or exhibits and to develop enjoyable and educational activities that provide visitors with fresh perspectives on Delaware history. The partnership gave students a unique opportunity to experience how museums develop public programming through efficient time-management, teamwork, critical thinking and creativity—valuable skills that the students will need as they move forward in their lives.
In their program at the John Dickinson Plantation, the students used primary-source documents to highlight the lives of Nathan and Abigail Phillips and their children. Originally enslaved, the family was freed in 1786 when Dickinson unconditionally manumitted all of his slaves. In 1793, two of the children—13-year-old Curtis and 12-year-old Reuben—were indentured to Dickinson for eight and nine years respectively and trained as servants. In addition to the Phillips presentation, the students, dressed in period clothing, presented hands-on demonstrations in which visitors participated in paper-quilling, potpourri-making and quill-pen-writing.
At the Johnson Victrola Museum, the students created a program that focused on Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, two African-American vocalists who recorded for the Victor Talking Machine Company; while at The Old State House, the students presented a program that explored espionage during the American Revolution.
Finally, the program at the John Bell House featured students, dressed in period clothing, exploring the story of the “Dover Eight,” a group of escaped slaves from Maryland who were captured and imprisoned in the Dover, Del. jail, and who subsequently broke out and ultimately made their way to freedom in Canada.
In addition to their work at the sites, the students were required to create a poster for each of the four programs that incorporated the subjects of English, math and history. These posters were displayed at the program’s closing ceremony that took place at Delaware State University on July 24, 2015.
Written on: July 23rd, 2015 in News
During the month of June 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs welcomed four new members to its staff including two historic-site interpreters, and a new member in each of the agency’s Preservation Maintenance and Horticulture teams. Following are profiles of these newest members of the division family.
As historic-site interpreters who conduct tours and special programs at the division’s museums, Charolenne Shehorn and Bridget Wallace add a human face to Delaware history by providing in-depth information about the state’s historic places, and by bringing the people and events of the past to life.
A native of Dover, Del., Shehorn enjoyed a 30-plus-year career at Kraft Foods where she served, among other responsibilities, as a lab technician in the company’s quality-control department. During her years at Kraft, Shehorn found time to serve the community by volunteering for the Lion’s Club and a local Boy Scout troop. In 2011, she began volunteer service at the division’s John Dickinson Plantation where she has since been involved in the process of conducting research on, and compiling a database of, African Americans who lived on the site. She will continue to work at the plantation as a member of the division staff.
A Wilmington native who now lives in Greenwood, Del., Wallace graduated from the University of Delaware in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in art history. During the winter of 2015, she gained practical experience by serving as an intern at the Iron Hill Museum in Newark where she was responsible for cleaning, identifying, photographing, cataloging and displaying objects from the museum’s archaeological collections. In pursuit of a career working for museums, she landed her first job in her chosen field as a historic-site interpreter at the division’s downtown Dover museums—the Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House.
Scott Hayes grew up on his family’s farm east of Dover, Del. where he learned early how to repair and maintain equipment and just about anything else that needed fixing. The farm, which follows organic practices, produces a variety of crops including herbs, corn and hops—which Hayes hopes to someday utilize in creating his own beer. A graduate of Dover High School where he focused on architectural engineering, Hayes has studied that subject at Delaware Technical and Community College and is currently enrolled at Wilmington University where he is majoring in business management. He has worked as a welder for the Eagle Group and has run wire for Brothers Electrical, both in Clayton, Del. He now serves as a Physical-Plant Trades Mechanic I for the Preservation Maintenance Team that maintains, repairs and preserves the division’s facilities, museums and historic properties.
As a member of the division’s Horticulture Team, Renee Huber provides landscape support-services at the agency’s sites, helping to maintain a beautiful and safe natural environment that complements the historic nature of the individual properties. Prior to joining the division, the Hockessin, Del. resident served for 20 years as an associate horticulturalist at Hagley Museum where, among other responsibilities, she restored and managed greenhouses, served as the head floral designer for special events and grew plants in the museum’s cutting garden and the E. I. du Pont garden. Huber holds an associate’s degree in arts from Wesley College and certificates from Longwood Gardens’ Professional Gardener Training Program.
By Carolyn Apple, retired Dover-area emergency medicine physician and Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs volunteer
In my previous blog, I explained that gliders were lightweight engineless aircraft that were used by the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II to transport troops and heavy equipment into enemy controlled areas without detection. However, the United States was not the first to use this innovation so how did the idea of gliders start and by whom?
Surprisingly, it was Germany that first used gliders. As a result of the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended World War I, Germany was prohibited from having an air force or from using any type of aircraft to train pilots except for gliders. Soon, glider clubs and training schools became popular. In 1932, the Soviet Union developed larger gliders that seated up to 18 people and could transport heavy equipment and cargo.
As Germany experienced the slow rise of a leader named Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for the formation of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party also known as the Nazi party, the country began to rebuild its military which included the new German air force called the Luftwaffe. After World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, the Luftwaffe first used gliders in May of 1940 to land troops to quickly overtake the Eben Emael fortress which dominated the River Meuse in Belgium. This use of gliders in military service prompted the British, Americans and Japanese to develop their own glider programs.
Let’s examine how the United States started its glider program. Maj. Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, acting Deputy Chief of Staff for Air, was largely responsible for selecting the Waco Aircraft Company from Ohio to produce military gliders for the United States. The Waco CG-4A glider, towed by a C-47 Skytrain or Dakota, was most commonly used in missions because it could carry a cargo load of 3,710 pounds manned by a crew of two pilots. For example, this type of glider could accommodate 13 combat-ready troops, a jeep and/or a small artillery piece. Although the use of military gliders accelerated after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they soon earned the nickname “flying coffins” because of the high rate of casualties during both training and assigned missions. [Editor’s note: Examples of the Waco CG-4A glider and the C-47 Skytrain are on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Del.]
Delaware was certainly at the forefront of the glider program. In June 1943, Maj. Gen. Arnold appointed Richard C. du Pont, Sr. from Wilmington to head the Army Air Force glider program. It was the highlight of my research to learn how Delawareans played an important role in shaping the glider program. Sadly, du Pont was killed in California on Sept. 11, 1943 during a demonstration flight of an experimental glider, but his brother, Maj. A. Felix du Pont, Jr., who was serving as the head of combat training and the director of glider operations in the Pacific Theater, assumed the position as head of the glider program. Another interesting fact to add from my research is that the du Pont brothers had founded an airmail service called the All American Aviation Company, which later became US Airways.
Glider troops participated in many of the major campaigns in the European Theater of Operations including the invasion of Sicily, the Normandy invasion (D-Day), Operation Market Garden and the crossing of the Rhine. They also participated in the war in the Pacific. In all military missions made by the glider troops, causalities were unavoidable so safety precautions were practiced. However, I found it interesting that glider troops were not required to wear parachutes.
Today, gliders are no longer used in military service except by the U.S. Air Force for training purposes. The American glider program became defunct soon after the end of World War II but it is interesting to mention that the United States produced 14,612 gliders of all types and trained over 6,000 glider pilots between 1941 and 1945. I will also add that the 305th Troop Carrier Squadron, currently the 305th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron that operates from the New Castle Air National Guard Base, dropped paratroopers and released gliders with reinforcements in the invasion of Normandy and in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands in June and September 1944.
In my next blog, I will discuss the B-17 Flying Fortress long-range bomber.
The images in this blog were selected from the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection, one of the permanent collections preserved by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Mr. Willis of Dover, Del. served as a photographic technician with the Army Air Force during the Second World War. A display of items from the collection, “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis,” was on view at Legislative Hall in Dover through Feb. 21, 2016 .