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  Archived Posts From: 2016

news

Employees and volunteers recognized at division all-staff meeting

Written on: September 23rd, 2016 in News

On Sept. 19, 2016, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs employees and volunteers gathered at the Laurel, Del. Fire Hall for an all-staff meeting to review recent successes and examine future plans.

Division employees and volunteers at the all-staff meeting on Sept. 19, 2016.

Division employees and volunteers at the all-staff meeting on Sept. 19, 2016.

Division director Tim Slavin kicked off the program by welcoming the following staff members who have joined the division over the past six months: Kara Briggs, Kaitlyn Dykes, Kelly Ewing, Andrew Lyter, Steven Mumford and John Witzman; plus Nate Betts who is providing contractual services for the division’s State Historic Preservation Office. This was followed by the announcement of a perfect-attendance award for Dan Davis and the presentation of staff service-awards to Ann Baker Horsey for 40 years of service, Jan Rettig for 25 years, and Vertie Lee and Edward McWilliams for 20 years.

As part of the division’s all-staff meeting, a firefighter from the Laurel Fire Department conducted training sessions in the use of fire extinguishers.

As part of the division’s all-staff meeting, Francis Passwaters of the Laurel Fire Department conducted training sessions in the use of fire extinguishers.

Division staff members then came to the podium to honor their colleagues by presenting Extra Mile Awards to Kaitlyn Dykes, Beth Gott and Tom Pulmano of the Zwaanendael Museum staff who helped a visitor recover her handbag which had been left at the site—and Jennifer Bowman; Barbara Carrow; Chis Conley; Jennifer Dunham; Melissa Fitzgerald; Beth Gott; Carla, Maya and Zaria Griffith; Chris Hall; Vertie Lee; Chris Merrill; Sharyn Murray; Tom Pulmano; James Scott; Charolenne, Richard and Ricky Shehorn; Nena Todd; Bridget Wallace and Yvonne Henry-Whaley who helped to make the John Dickinson Plantation/St. Jones Reserve’s “Make a Splash!” festival a resounding success.

Slavin then returned to share the news that members of the division family would soon be honored with two important state-level awards: Greg Buchman, Chris Conley, Scott Hayes and James Scott of the Preservation-Maintenance Team will receive the Department of State’s Employee of the Second Quarter for the emergency aid that they provided to a fellow employee who had collapsed at a job site; and Dr. Carolyn Apple who will receive a 2016 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for her work in helping to obtain the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection for the state’s collections, and for her tireless efforts in researching, documenting and curating photos; writing display text; and assisting in the installation of exhibits and displays that showcase photos from the collection.

Delaware Department of State Employees of the Second Quarter. (From left) Chris Conley, Scott Hayes, Greg Buchman and James Scott of the division’s Preservation-Maintenance Team.

Delaware Department of State Employees of the Second Quarter. (From left) Chris Conley, Scott Hayes, Greg Buchman and James Scott of the division’s Preservation-Maintenance Team.

In addition to highlighting the work of the division’s staff and volunteers, the event included progress reports on the division’s priority activities including, among many others, strategic planning, progress on obtaining accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, collections inventory and a variety of historic-preservation initiatives. Staff members also added variety to the meeting by presenting four short vignettes on various aspects of Delaware history.

Before concluding the day’s activities, attendees received training in the proper use of fire extinguishers, and participated in a team-building exercise that provided valuable lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity. As part of the exercise, participants were divided into several small groups and asked to build free-standing structures out of a pack of playing cards.

Division staff members building a structure made of playing cards.

Division staff members building a structure made of playing cards.

Measuring the height of a card structure. (From left) Carlos Maldonado, Steven Mumford, Suzanne Savery and Greg Buchman.

Measuring the height of a card structure. (From left) Carlos Maldonado, Steven Mumford, Suzanne Savery and Greg Buchman.

 


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historic-sites

History was made here: The New Castle Green

Written on: September 22nd, 2016 in Historic SitesMuseumsNews

A spotlight on one of the more than 40 historic properties owned by the state of Delaware and administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

By Brian Cannon, lead interpreter, New Castle Court House Museum

The United States is known as a “melting pot” for good reason. We have always adapted the elements of our many cultures, food and language to enrich our unique American society. In the center of New Castle, Del., lies one of the earliest of these cultural imports—a grass- and tree-covered plot of land called “the Green.”

Aerial view of the New Castle Green. In the foreground is the New Castle Court House Museum, followed counterclockwise by the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Photo by Bruce Burk.

Aerial view of the New Castle Green. In the foreground is the New Castle Court House Museum, followed counterclockwise by the Arsenal, Immanuel Episcopal Church and the Academy. Photo by Bruce Burk.

In 1651, the Dutch West India Company established a military post named Fort Casimir at present-day New Castle to control the adjacent South River, today the Delaware River. In 1655, as colonists began settling the area around the fort, it became necessary to lay out streets and plots of land for homes. In keeping with the European style, Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony, included in the plan a central, open public-area to allow grazing of animals, public markets and eventually, a blockhouse for defense.

Over time, the grazing sheep and town markets moved elsewhere and the Green became known as the Public Square. The blockhouse, not needed for defense, became the court house and jail, and a place for public activities. In October 1682, William Penn arrived in North America to claim his new colony of Pennsylvania and the area known as the Three Lower Counties on Delaware, the present day state of Delaware. He received title to the Lower Counties at the blockhouse in a ceremony called Livery of Seizen, commemorated today with a nearby statue of William Penn by noted sculptor Charles Cropper Parks.

New Castle resident Jim Whisman as William Penn in front of the Penn statue. The Arsenal building is in the background.

New Castle resident Jim Whisman as William Penn in front of the Penn statue. The Arsenal building is in the background.

In 1689, a new, wooden court-house-building was constructed on the Green and the old blockhouse was given to the town’s Anglican Church parish. This structure was soon replaced by a new masonry building that today serves the congregation of Immanuel Episcopal Church.

New Castle Green with the Academy building at left and Immanuel Episcopal Church at right.

New Castle Green with the Academy building at left and Immanuel Episcopal Church at right.

The Public Square quickly developed as New Castle County’s legal and governmental center. In 1729, the old court house was destroyed by fire and replaced in 1732 with a new brick structure that served courts, government offices and the colonial assembly for the Three Lower Counties. Today, that building is the New Castle Court House Museum, interpreting the town’s importance in Delaware and regional history.

New Castle Court House Museum

New Castle Court House Museum

As the court system expanded, the need for additional jail- and workhouse-space also grew. At first, jail space was included in the court house itself. However, by the 1800s, the Green included separate buildings for incarceration. A new county prison built in the 1850s would occupy almost a quarter of the Green until it was closed in 1905. The prison was demolished in 1911 except for a two-story brownstone building known as the Sheriff’s House. Originally the administrative offices for the prison and official home for the county sheriff, the house is now owned by the National Park Service and will be used as the offices of the First State National Historical Park. [Editor’s note: The Green and New Castle Court House Museum are partner sites in the First State National Historical Park.]

Sheriff's House

Sheriff’s House

The fear of a coming war with Great Britain prompted the federal government to erect an arsenal on the Green in 1809 to store weapons and gunpowder. A small, windowless brick-structure, it was eventually given to the town of New Castle and enlarged to become a school house.

The citizens of New Castle had been early enthusiasts of education, supporting the 1799 construction of a building on the Green called the Academy. While it was not a public school in the modern sense, it was ahead of most communities in Delaware, even allowing young ladies to attend. As the population of New Castle grew, the presence of the Academy and Arsenal as schools gave the center of town the nickname the “School Green.”

New Castle Academy

New Castle Academy

Today, except for the Sheriff’s House and Immanuel Church, the New Castle Green and its buildings are owned by the state of Delaware and maintained by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The open space no longer supports sheep and cows, but is designated as an “urban forest” containing over a dozen species of trees, and  is used daily by residents and visitors alike as an escape back to a slower time in Delaware history.

 

Born in Wilmington and raised in New Castle County, Brian Cannon served in the U.S. Air Force before attending Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University. After 25 years of service in fire protection and safety management, he began a second career in the museum field. Cannon joined the staff of the New Castle Court House Museum in 1997 and has served as a full-time staff member since 2007.

Brian Cannon

Brian Cannon


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events

Division to sponsor 17 free programs during October 2016

Written on: September 16th, 2016 in EventsMuseumsNews

The five museums of the State of Delaware will be sponsoring 17 special events during the month of October 2016. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public.

Re-enactment of the Livery of Seizen ritual inside the New Castle Court House Museum. The ceremony will be conducted as part of William Penn Day on Oct. 22, 2016.

Re-enactment of the Livery of Seizen ritual inside the New Castle Court House Museum. The ceremony will be conducted as part of William Penn Day on Oct. 22, 2016.

Administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the five museums—the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum—tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through tours, exhibits, school programs and hands-on activities, the museums shine a spotlight on Delaware’s unique history and the diverse people who came to live there. The New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation are partner sites of the First State National Historical Park. The Old State House is located on the Dover Green, another partner site of the park. Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of events sponsored by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special programs, October 2016

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
“The Birth and Re-Birth of a State House: The 40th Anniversary of The Old State House Restoration.” Guided tours explore the modifications that have been made to The Old State House since its completion in 1791, Mabel Lloyd Ridgely’s efforts to restore it and its restoration in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
“Music of the World.”
Guided tours explore the music of cultures from around the world that was recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company, accompanied by 78-rpm records played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.

Displays at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Displays at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Fridays, Oct. 7, 14 and 28, 2016
“Photo Fridays.” Take advantage of early morning and late afternoon light to photograph the natural beauty of the home and grounds of the “Penman of the Revolution.” John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Plantation open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Early and late access available by reservation only by calling 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016
“A Day in the Life of the John Dickinson Plantation.” Visitors of all ages will enjoy a day of hands-on activities from Colonial trades to hearth cooking in the 18th-century setting of the home of the “Penman of the Revolution.” John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild.
Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
“Currents Reading.”
Literary reading by Delaware poets and authors published in the new anthology “Currents” which showcases work from the Delaware Division of the Arts’ 2012 Cape Henlopen writers retreat. Part of the statewide Delaware Literary Reading Series 2016. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 1–3 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Monday, Oct. 10, 2016
Columbus Day. The following museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The following museums will be closed: The John Dickinson Plantation, the New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum. 302-744-5054.

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016
“1781 Surrender: End of War.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Bob Vander Decker. Part 10 of “The Founding of America in One Year,” a year-long series that examines important local and national events that led to the founding of the United States. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016
River Towns Ride and Festival. Festivals in historic New Castle and Delaware City frame a bicycling event between the two cities. Family-oriented festival held from 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m. at the New Castle Court House Museum and The Green in New Castle will feature food and craft beer, music, pumpkin decorating and children’s games. 302-323-4453. Note: Event originally scheduled for Oct. 1, 2016. Due to inclement weather, event rescheduled to Oct. 15, 2016.

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016
Meeting of the State Review Board for Historic Preservation. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 10 a.m. 302-736-7417.

Friday, Oct. 21, 2016
“Lantern Tours of the Plantation.” Programs explore the parties, games, dances and entertainment that would have abounded at the plantation during the nighttime in the 18th century. Activities will also include wagon-ride guided-tours conducted by staff of the St. Jones Reserve exploring the nocturnal life of the estuary. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Programs 6–7 p.m. and 7:30–8:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling the John Dickinson Plantation at 302-739-3277 no later than Oct. 20.

Autumn scene at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Autumn scene at the John Dickinson Plantation.

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
William Penn Day. Series of programs commemorating the 334th anniversary of Penn’s disembarkment at New Castle, his first landing in the New World. Activities include a re-enactment of the Livery of Seizen ritual at 10:15 a.m. in which Penn received possession of New Castle and a 12-mile circle of land surrounding it; a performance by De Blokfluiters recorder/flute ensemble at 11 a.m.; “The Tryal of William Penn,” a historical play exploring Penn’s trial on religious freedom and the rights of English subjects under the law at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.; “The Amazing Mrs. Penn,” a living-history performance by Jean Norvell as Hannah Penn at 2 p.m.; and a Baroque concert by the Immanuel Bach Consort at 6 p.m. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Free admission but reservations required for the 6 p.m. concert. 302-323-4453. Note: The time for the Immanuel Bach Consort performance has been changed from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
“Distilling in Delaware.” Lecture on the history of distilling in the First State by Mike Rasmussen, co-founder of Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna, Del., plus a tasting of some of the company’s products. Presented in coordination with the museum’s exhibit “Wine and Spirits in Delaware: Producing, Preserving, and Presenting.” Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 5 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Oct. 21, 2016.

Containers and accessories from Levy & Glosking distillers of Dover, Del. Part of the exhibit, “Wine and Spirits in Delaware: Producing, Preserving, and Presenting.”

Containers and accessories from Levy & Glosking distillers of Dover, Del. Part of the exhibit, “Wine and Spirits in Delaware: Producing, Preserving, and Presenting.”

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016
“The Spirit of New Castle Past.” Play by historic-site interpreter David Price explores historical figures of New Castle’s past who return to tell their stories of conquest, murder, adultery, kidnapping, slavery and revolution. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required. No admission after the play begins. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016
“Mysteries of History.” Walking tour explores the unusual tombstones of St. Peter’s cemetery in Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tour leaves from the museum at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016
“Who Done It: A Historic Murder Mystery.” Fictionalized historical play in which museum guests assist Delaware’s Dr. James Sykes in questioning suspects in the death of Samuel Bedford, III. Based on a real 18th-century medical mystery solved by Dr. Sykes. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Visitors to the 2 p.m. performance are encouraged to bring children for indoor trick-or-treating at stops within the building. Costumes are welcomed for all who attend. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-744-5054.

The Old State House

The Old State House

 


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events

EVENTS RESCHEDULED–Programs on Delaware’s Native-American heritage to be held through the end of September 2016

Written on: September 13th, 2016 in EventsMuseumsNews

Programs on Delaware’s Native-American heritage that were cancelled for Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 have been rescheduled to the remaining weekends in September, 2016. The cancellations were due to inclement weather resulting from the after-effects of Hurricane Hermine.

Lenape fancy dancer. The Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware will be celebrating its heritage with dancing and demonstrations on Sept. 24, 2016.

Lenape fancy dancer. The Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware will be celebrating its heritage with dancing and demonstrations on Sept. 24, 2016.

Following is updated information on the programs:

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
Spoken-word performances on Delaware’s Native Americans. Latest installment in the “Listen Up!” spoken-word series which features local youth who utilize poetry, theater, dance and song to create compositions that celebrate different aspects of Delaware history. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performances at Noon and 2:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5054. Rescheduled from Sept. 3, 2016. 

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
“We ARE Still Here!” As part of a discussion about his book, “We Are Still Here!: The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Indians,” the Rev. Dr. John R. Norwood examines the most popular misconceptions about Native-American people and their existence in today’s society. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5054. No change from original schedule. 

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“The First People of the First State: A Lenape Celebration of Heritage.” Sixth annual celebration featuring the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware as they honor mother earth and Native-American culture with dancing and demonstrations from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Digging for Old Delaware” and “Native American Games and Amusements” from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; grand entry at Noon; flint-knapping lesson at 1 p.m.; “Surviving Invasion: The First People of the First State” lecture by Dr. Cara Blume at 1:30 p.m.; and cordage-making class at 2 p.m. On The Green and in the John Bell House and The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5054. Rescheduled from Sept. 3, 2016. 

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“Songs and Stories: Oral Traditions of Delaware’s Native Peoples.” Presentation by historic-site interpreter Kaitlyn Dykes on Delaware’s native peoples through their own words. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Sept. 23, 2016. No change from original schedule. 


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news

Kara Briggs joins the division staff as an architectural historian

Written on: August 25th, 2016 in NewsPreservation

On Aug. 8, 2016, Kara Briggs joined the staff of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office as an architectural historian. She is based at the division’s main office located at 21 The Green in Dover.

Kara Briggs

Kara Briggs

Briggs’ responsibilities at the division include conducting cultural-resource reviews of federally funded or permitted projects for Section 106 compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act for historical and architectural properties; providing coordination services with state designated certified local governments; and oversight of division-held historic-preservation easements including monitoring and enforcement of easement provisions, technical assistance to property owners and negotiation and completion of new easements.

Briggs holds a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy with a concentration in historic preservation from the University of Delaware where she also earned certificates in museum studies and human-subjects training. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interior design from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Her varied work experience includes service as a consulting architectural historian and projects manager for several private companies; as collections manager and research assistant for the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design; as an exhibit designer and curator of collections for the Historical Society of Delaware; as collections-management curator for the Andrew Low House in Savannah, Ga.; and as site supervisor for the division’s John Dickinson Plantation where she worked from 2001 to 2002. Briggs is the author of “Images of America: Forty Acres” about the Wilmington neighborhood where she lives.

Forty Acres

 


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exhibits

Division’s exhibit of World War II photographs at Middletown Historical Society closed on July 21, 2017

Written on: August 24th, 2016 in ExhibitsNewsVolunteerism

-Exhibit closed on July 21, 2017-

“World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit” was on display from August 2016 through July 21, 2017 at the Middletown Historical Society located at 216 N. Broad St. in Middletown, Del.

Photograph of servicemen playing volleyball from “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit."

Photograph of servicemen playing volleyball from “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit.”

Images featured in the exhibit were selected from the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection which includes more than 600 photographs taken by Dover, Del. native William D. Willis and his colleagues who served as official military photographers during service in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945. The collection surfaced after Willis’ death and was brought to the attention of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs which accepted it into the permanent collections of the state of Delaware in 2012.

Several photographs from the collection had been presented to the public through a series of displays created by the division’s Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team and exhibited at Legislative Hall in Dover between March 2015 and February 2016. Photographs from these displays were combined to create “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit” that was on view at the Seaford Historical Society between Feb. 13 and May 31, 2016.

The exhibit featured selected Willis photographs augmented by related items of local interest supplied by the society and by private lenders including household objects that focus on Delaware’s contributions to the home front, gardening tools that highlight victory gardens, and sporting- and game-items that helped to provide popular recreational activities on military bases. The exhibit was organized according to the following topics: William D. Willis’ military service as a photo technician, war production, Delaware’s wartime contribution to the homefront, agriculture, military base life, and United Service Organizations (USO) shows.

Photograph of “chow” entertainment from “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit."

Photograph of “chow” entertainment from “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit.”

William D. Willis (1919–2001) was born in Dover, Del. After graduating from Dover High School in 1939, he worked as a mechanic in an automobile-repair shop in his home town. On May 16, 1941, he entered active duty in the U.S. Army where he received training in Army Air Forces motor mechanics at Fort Devens, Mass. Pfc. Willis served as a mechanic for a year after completing his training and was then transferred to the position of photographic technician with the 9th Photo Technician Unit, taking and developing pictures and handling various phases of laboratory work pertaining to negative processing. He departed for the European Theater of Operations on Aug. 9, 1943 and served there until Sept. 26, 1945. For most of his service, he was attached to the 20th Fighter Group at Kings Cliffe, England.

Photograph of William D. Willis

William D. Willis

The division’s partnerships with the Seaford and Middletown historical societies are components of the agency’s Affiliates Program which utilizes professionals from the division staff—including exhibit designers, curators, editors, museum managers, trades-people, archaeologists and historians—who work with history- and heritage-based organizations throughout Delaware to develop joint programs and exhibits, including potential display of items from the state’s collections. “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis: a photographic exhibit” was curated by Carolyn Apple, a retired Dover physician and CARE Team volunteer who has been deeply involved in the Willis collection from processing its initial donation to researching, documenting and curating photos; writing display text; and assisting in the installation of the exhibit.


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archaeology

Free admission beginning Aug. 31, 2016 for “Lost off Lewes: The British warship DeBraak”

Written on: August 24th, 2016 in ArchaeologyEventsMuseumsNews

-Tours explore the surviving hull section of an 18th-century shipwreck-

Beginning on Aug. 31, 2016 and continuing through Sept. 29, 2016, admission is free for “Lost off Lewes: The British warship DeBraak,” guided tours that explore the 18th-century history, artifacts and the surviving hull section of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Free tours will take place at 9 a.m. on the following Wednesdays and Thursdays: Aug. 31; and Sept. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29, 2016. Previously, admission charge for the tours, which began on June 8, 2016, had been $10 per person.

Lost off Lewes faux newspaper article.

 

Each tour begins at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., where a lecture on the ship will be presented in conjunction with the exhibit “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.” Participants will learn about the history, crew and sinking of the DeBraak through a guided presentation and display of actual artifacts. Attendees will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak conservation facility to see the ship’s surviving hull section.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull which can be seen in the left of the photo.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull which can be seen in the left of the photo.

Each tour will last approximately two hours. Individuals age 10 and up are welcome. Space is limited to 12 participants per tour. Admission for the tours is free but, due to space restrictions, reservations are recommended via the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click on “Tours” in the “Categories” column). Walk-ups are welcome but space is not guaranteed. For questions, call 302-645-1148.

Significance of DeBraak …

During the late-18th and early-19th centuries, sloops of war such as DeBraak played an increasingly important role in Royal Navy campaigns. These relatively small vessels combined speed, agility, shallow draft and increased firepower, all of which made them formidable naval vessels. As the only Royal Navy sloop of war from this time period that has been recovered anywhere in the world, DeBraak serves as an invaluable historical resource for a time when Great Britain was the world’s preeminent naval power.

Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.

Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.

The surviving section of the DeBraak’s hull and its associated artifact collection have been curated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since they were acquired by the state of Delaware in 1992. Approximately one-third of the hull survives including the keel, keelson and lower framing elements, including a large section of the starboard (right) side.

About the Zwaanendael Museum …

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters. The museum’s exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history.

DeBraak tour participants listening to a presentation at the Zwaanendael Museum. The exhibit “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World” is in the background.

DeBraak tour participants listening to a presentation at the Zwaanendael Museum. The exhibit “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World” is in the background.

 


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events

Native-American heritage to be spotlighted at division museums during September 2016

Written on: August 17th, 2016 in EventsMuseumsNews

Updated: Sept. 13, 2016

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 24 special events during the month of September 2016 at the museums of the state of Delaware. Six of the programs will explore the First State’s rich Native-American heritage and culture. A full schedule is included below. Admission to all the listed events is free.

Lenape fancy dancer. The Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware will be celebrating its heritage with drums, songs and dancing on Sept. 3, 2016.

Lenape fancy dancer. The Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware will be celebrating its heritage with drums, songs and dancing on Sept. 24, 2016.

According to Nena Todd, site supervisor for the state’s downtown Dover museums, “September is a time for Native-American people to gather in their homelands. Traditionally, the coming of cooler weather provided a signal for native peoples to transition from a summer of hunting and fishing to more secure winter lodgings.” This tradition of seasonal gathering continues in today’s Native-American communities with September serving as a time when families come together to honor their heritage with events such as the “The First People of the First State: A Lenape Celebration of Heritage” that will be held on the Dover Green on Sept. 24, 2016.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the five museums of the state of Delaware—the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum—tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through tours, exhibits, school programs and hands-on activities, the museums shine a spotlight on Delaware’s unique history and the diverse people who came to live there. The New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation are partner sites of the First State National Historical Park. The Old State House is located on the Dover Green, another partner site of the park. Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of events sponsored by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, September 2016

Wednesdays and Thursdays, Aug. 31, Sept. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29, 2016
Lost Off Lewes: The British Warship DeBraak.” Special tours explore the 18th-century history, artifacts and the surviving hull section of this shipwreck. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 9 a.m. Limited seating. Admission free by reservation only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov/ and click on “Tours” in the “Categories” column). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016
“Man’s Best Friend.” Guided tours explore one of the most celebrated canines in the world—Nipper, the dog who adorns the Victor trademark, “His Masters Voice.” Programs will be accompanied by 78-rpm records played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.

Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016
“Trades of the Plantation: Plaster-Casting.” Each Saturday in September the plantation will explore a different 18th-century trade. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
Labor Day. All museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; the John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-736-7400.

Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
“Man’s Best Friend.” Guided tours explore one of the most celebrated canines in the world—Nipper, the dog who adorns the Victor trademark, “His Masters Voice.” Programs will be accompanied by 78-rpm records played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.

"Nipper Corner” at the Johnson Victrola Museum. The celebrated canine will be explored in programs on Sept. 3 and 5, 2016.

“Nipper Corner” at the Johnson Victrola Museum. The celebrated canine will be explored in programs on Sept. 3 and 5, 2016.

Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
“Post Cards of Dover.”
Bill Burton gives visitors a chance to revisit “Old Dover” through his collection of vintage Kent County postcards. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 11 a.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
“The Long Road to Recognition.” Elected Chief Dennis Coker will discuss the long process that led to a unanimous vote in the Delaware House and Senate to recognize the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware after 240 years. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
“Trades of the Plantation: Weaving.” Each Saturday in September the plantation will explore a different 18th-century trade. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
“Delaware State Parks: Time Travelers.” Archaeologist John McCarthy will discuss Delaware State Parks’ “Time Travelers” program which provides young people with the hands-on experience of an archaeological excavation. In celebration of the “The First People of the First State,” McCarthy will also discuss some of the significant Native American archaeological sites found within Delaware’s parks. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016
“1779-1780: War and Politics.” Lecture by historic-site interpreter Bob Vander Decker. Part nine of “The Founding of America in One Year,” a year-long series that examines important local and national events that led to the founding of the United States. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 7 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
“Trades of the Plantation: Blacksmithing.” Each Saturday in September the plantation will explore a different 18th-century trade. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
Spoken-word performances on Delaware’s Native Americans. Latest installment in the “Listen Up!” spoken-word series features local youth utilizing poetry, theater, dance and song to create compositions that celebrate Delaware’s Native-American people. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performances at Noon and 2:30 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054. Note: This program was rescheduled from Sept. 3, 2016.  

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
“We ARE Still Here!” As part of a discussion about his book, “We Are Still Here!: The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Indians,” the Rev. Dr. John R. Norwood examines the most popular misconceptions about Native-American people and their existence in today’s society. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“The First People of the First State: A Lenape Celebration of Heritage.”
Sixth annual celebration featuring the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware as they honor mother earth and Native-American culture with dancing and demonstrations from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; “Digging for Old Delaware” and “Native American Games and Amusements” from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; grand entry at Noon; flint-knapping lesson at 1 p.m.; “Surviving Invasion: The First People of the First State” lecture by Dr. Cara Blume at 1:30 p.m.; and cordage-making class at 2 p.m. On The Green and in the John Bell House and The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Note: This program was rescheduled from Sept. 3, 2016.  

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“Trades of the Plantation: Smokehouse.” Each Saturday in September the plantation will explore a different 18th-century trade. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Historic-site interpreters in front of the John Dickinson Plantation smokehouse.

Historic-site interpreters in front of the John Dickinson Plantation smokehouse.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
“Songs and Stories: Oral Traditions of Delaware’s Native Peoples.” Presentation by historic-site interpreter Kaitlyn Dykes on Delaware’s native peoples through their own words. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 2 p.m. on the museum’s 2nd floor (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Sept. 23, 2016.


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events

Division produces rack cards advertising the state’s museums and DeBraak tours

Written on: July 28th, 2016 in EventsExhibitsMuseumsNews

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently produced a series of rack cards advertising the five museums of the state of Delaware—the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum. In addition, the division produced a rack card advertising the 2016 tours of the surviving hull section of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that sank off Lewes, Del. in 1798.

General purpose Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs rack card front

Created in a lively, colorful style by graphic designers Michael Cinque and Carlos Maldonado of the division’s Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team, the rack cards feature images that evoke the experiences that visitors can expect when they visit these iconic places in Delaware history. Each of the museum cards features photographs of the site and activities that have taken place there, while the DeBraak card features historical images of late-18th-century warships and a faux newspaper-article that describes the DeBraak’s demise.

Division staff members are in the process of distributing the cards at locations where they can be picked up by the public including visitor centers, chambers of commerce, hotels, museums, libraries, senior centers, state parks, historic sites and other points of contact in the community.

John Dickinson Plantation rack card

Johnson Victrola Museum rack card

New Castle Court House Museum rack card

Old State House rack card

Zwaanendael Museum rack card

General purpose Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs rack card both sides

Debraak tours rack card

 


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museums

Division welcomes three new historic-site interpreters

Written on: July 28th, 2016 in MuseumsNews

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently hired three new historic-site interpreters for its museums in Lewes and Dover. Historic-site interpreters are the division’s front-line connection with the public, adding a human face to Delaware history. Through tours and special programming, they provide in-depth information about the state’s historic places and help bring the people and events of the past to life.

Kaitlyn Dykes and Andrew Lyter are both currently serving at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes. Dykes comes to the division after working as a volunteer manager for Delaware State Parks, as a historical interpreter at the Fort Miles Historical Area in Cape Henlopen State Park and as an archaeology intern for Jamestown Rediscovery. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Kaitlyn Dykes

Kaitlyn Dykes

Andrew Lyter holds a bachelor’s degree in history from West Chester University in Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in history from that same institution. He has worked as a program coordinator and museum educator at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, as a historic ships keeper for the Independence Seaport Museum and as a volunteer interpreter at a variety of historic sites in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Andrew Lyter

Andrew Lyter

Before joining the staff of The Old State House in Dover, Steven Mumford worked in a wide variety of capacities in Maryland including writing grants and other fund-raising activities; managing historic-preservation projects; and serving in administrative positions for a number of state-, county- and local-government agencies. An actor, historical interpreter and director, Mumford is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Dover English Country Dancers, has taught acting at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Md. and was the writer and producer of a documentary film on old Chestertown, Md. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Tarkio College in Missouri and has studied historic preservation at Washington College in Chestertown.

Steven Mumford

Steven Mumford


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