A number of special programs will be taking place during the month of May 2017 in celebration of Delaware Archaeology Month, a program designed to promote the study and conservation of the state’s archaeological resources and to reflect on the vital role of archaeology in revealing the cultural legacy of the state.
Delaware Archaeology Month is sponsored by the Archaeological Society of Delaware which was founded in 1933 by amateur and professional archaeologists to study and appreciate archaeology, and more recently, historic preservation. The organization’s mission is to educate both its members and the public about archaeology, to support professional archaeological investigations, to report on activity within Delaware and the surrounding region and to promote interest and participation in archaeology and related activities.
For a listing of activities, go to the Archaeological Society of Delaware website.
The John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Del., is currently featuring “Five Stories,” a series of descriptive panels that explore the lives of a variety of people who lived and worked on the farm of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, signer of the U.S. Constitution and “Penman of the Revolution.”
Between 1740 when Samuel Dickinson, a wealthy Quaker tobacco planter and merchant of Talbot County, Md., moved his family to the site on Jones Neck, southeast of Dover, Del., to John Dickinson’s death in 1808, more than 200 people were deeply connected to the plantation including Dickinson family members, tenant farmers, tradesmen, free blacks, indentured servants and enslaved individuals. “Five Stories” looks to bring some of their experiences back to life.
During its first iteration, which opened in February 2017, “Five Stories” provides information on the lives of family patriarch Samuel Dickinson; Dinah, an enslaved woman owned by Samuel who was later manumitted by John Dickinson; Mary Norris Dickinson, John’s wife; William and Deborah White, tenant farmers at the site; and John Furbee and his brother Peter Patten, free-black men who rented farmland from John Dickinson. Following are images of the five descriptive panels:
Aside from the Dickinson family itself, information on the people associated with the site is extremely difficult to find. However, thanks to painstaking research by historians, archaeologists and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs staff members; as well as scholarship conducted under the auspices of the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion, details about the lives of the plantation’s people have been mined from a variety of places including, among others, the Delaware Public Archives, Delaware Historical Society, University of Delaware and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. While important information has been gleaned from likely sources such as maps, letters and diaries, it has also been found in more mundane places such as probate inventory, account-book records and bills of sale. As additional information is uncovered through research, new panels will be created that tell the stories of other people who lived and worked at the plantation.
The installation of “Five Stories” is the latest in a series of improvements that have taken place at the plantation’s visitor center since 2010. Originally constructed in the late 1980s, the visitor center is located in a replicated 18th-century-style barn whose interior is infused with the scent of fragrant, undressed wood. Improvements that have taken place in recent years include extensions to the right- and rear-sections of the building, the addition of several windows, upgrades to the restrooms and additional steps that have brought the facility more fully into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Operating hours at the John Dickinson Plantation from April 1 through Sept. 30 are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. From Oct. 1 through March 31, operating hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours begin at the plantation’s visitor center followed by exploration of the mansion house, log’d dwelling, smokehouse and other outbuildings. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-739-3277.
The five museums of the State of Delaware will be sponsoring seven special events during the month of May 2017. A full schedule is included below. Except where noted, all programs are free and open to the public.
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 events, May 2017
Friday–Sunday, May 5–7, 2017
Dover Days Festival. Celebration of Delaware history featuring historical re-enactments, parade, maypole dancing, walking tours, pet parade, arts and crafts, music and more. Events are primarily based in downtown Dover locations including the Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House. 302-734-4888.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
“Some Like Classical.” Guided tours examine some of Victor Records’ earliest recordings of classical music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Part of the Dover Days Festival. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Dover Days at the John Dickinson Plantation. Activities include tours and hearth cooking utilizing 18th-century recipes. Part of the Dover Days Festival. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
“William Penn vs Lord Baltimore: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.” Historical-theater production explores William Penn’s conflict with Lord Baltimore over ownership of the Delmarva Peninsula. Part of the Dover Days Festival. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Performance at 1 p.m. Museum open for tours 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
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.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
A Day in Old New Castle. The oldest house and garden tour in the nation includes programs at the New Castle Court House Museum and the New Castle Green. Downtown New Castle. Admission free at the New Castle Court House Museum. Admission charge at other venues. 302-322-5774.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
“A Sailor’s Life for Me”—Zwaanendael Museum’s 6th Annual Maritime Celebration. Maritime-themed activities including living-history re-enactors, encampments, musket drills, displays, demonstrations, tours of Lightship Overfalls and more. Downtown Lewes locations including the Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Free admission except for tours of the Lightship Overfalls. 302-645-1148.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
“A Sailor’s Life for Me”—Zwaanendael Museum’s 6th Annual Maritime Celebration. Activities in downtown Lewes include tours of the remaining section of HMB DeBraak at 9 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway. Reservations required. Outdoor activities at the Zwaanendael Museum from 1–3 p.m. Wreath-laying ceremonies honoring the crew of DeBraak beginning at 3 p.m. at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and living-history re-enactors at Canal Front Park from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. 302-645-1148.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Memorial 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. 302-744-5054.
By Alice Guerrant, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs archaeologist and Historic Properties Research Center manager.
In recent months, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and its consultant, Heritage Strategies, have been working on the development of Delaware’s next statewide historic preservation plan.
In March 2017, we held five public meetings to ask Delawareans’ about the needs and issues facing historic places in the state, and to hear their ideas for the priorities for the next plan.
What did we hear?
We heard about the need for more education at all levels about historic preservation, and in particular, the need for training tradespeople in the special techniques and methods for restoring buildings properly. Participants also expressed the need for more attention to planning on the local level. Finally, we heard again and again that local communities and grassroots organizations play a vital role in preservation but need leadership and support.
Did you miss the public meetings? It’s not too late to be heard! Take our on-line survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DelawareHistoricPreservationPlanning2017. There are only nine questions, and it should take about 15 minutes.
Have a specific issue or observation? Email us at email@example.com.
We want to hear from you!
Adults and children alike will have an opportunity to experience seafaring lives of adventure, romance, excitement and hardships, and to honor mariners who made the ultimate sacrifice, during the Zwaanendael Museum’s two-day maritime celebration, “A Sailor’s Life for Me,” that will take place at a variety of downtown Lewes, Del. locations on May 27 and 28, 2017. A preliminary schedule of events is included below. Except for tours of the Lightship Overfalls, admission to all events is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.
2017 Zwaanendael Maritime Celebration: “A Sailor’s Life for Me”
Preliminary schedule as of April 18, 2017
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes
–“Life at Sea” demonstrations, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Swab the deck, learn about shipboard food, play “Crown and Anchor” and other Colonial-period games and serve on a block-and-tackle station where visitors will be drilled by a demanding mariner looking for new crew members
–Displays and demonstrations on local maritime history, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Presented by a variety of local organizations including the Indian River Lifesaving Station; the Lewes Historical Society; the Lightship Overfalls and the Overfalls Foundation; and the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR)
Canal Front Park, 211 Front St., Lewes
–Living-history encampment, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Historical re-enactors will portray sailors and mariners from the American Revolutionary War to the Korean War with a spotlight on World War I in commemoration of the centennial of America’s entrance into the Great War. Activities include displays, demonstrations and musket drills
Lightship Overfalls, 219 Pilottown Road, Lewes (next to Canal Front Park)
–Sound pipe demonstrations, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Demonstrations on the use of sound pipes which were used by the Overfalls to produce distinct and powerfully audible warnings during the presence of thick fog or mist
–Tours of the Overfalls, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Visit this National Historic Landmark that was the last lightship built by the United States Lighthouse Service. Last tour at 3:30 p.m. Admission $5 for adults and children over 14 years of age
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes
–“Lost Off Lewes: The British Warship DeBraak,” tours at 9 and 11 a.m., and 12:30 p.m.
Participants will meet at the Zwaanendael Museum where they will board a van that will transport them to an offsite conservation facility for a guided tour of the surviving hull section of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak which sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Admission is free, but due to limited seating, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Friday, May 19, 2017
–Colonial games, 1:30–4 p.m.
–Wreath-laying ceremony honoring crew members of the DeBraak, apx. 3:30 p.m.
Featuring historical re-enactors, a bugler and a bagpiper, this ceremony will take place at the DeBraak Memorial located on the museum grounds. The site is believed to contain the remains of several crew members who lost their lives in the sinking of the DeBraak
Canal Front Park, 211 Front St., Lewes
–Living-history encampment, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Historical re-enactors to portray sailors and mariners from the American Revolutionary War to the Korean War with a spotlight on World War I in commemoration of the centennial of America’s entrance into the Great War. Activities include displays, demonstrations and musket drills
Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church cemetery, 211 Mulberry St., Lewes
–Wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of James Drew, captain of the DeBraak, 3 p.m.
Featuring historical re-enactors, a bugler and a bagpiper, participants will lay a wreath on Capt. Drew’s grave, followed by a walk to the Zwaanendael Museum for a wreath-laying ceremony honoring other crew members of the DeBraak
Written on: April 13th, 2017 in News
Delaware’s role in the creation of the United States was recognized on March 23, 2017 during the opening ceremonies in Virginia for the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The museum tells the story of the founding of the nation from the late-Colonial period through the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
Museum celebrations took place between March 23 and April 4, with each day honoring one of the original 13 states in the order in which they ratified the Constitution. Delaware earned the pole position as a result of its Dec. 7, 1787 ratification of the nation’s founding document, the first state to do so.
Gov. Carney was represented at the March 23 ceremony by Linda Parkowski, director of the Delaware Tourism Office. The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs was represented by John Dickinson Plantation staff members Gloria Henry, who participated in a panel discussion on Delaware’s heroes and heroines of the American Revolution, and Vertie Lee who helped staff information tables on Delaware history. Other Delaware individuals and organizations participating in the event included historians Kim Burdick and Wade Catts, and representatives the 1st Delaware Regiment, Delaware Department of Transportation, Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, First State Heritage Park, the George Washington Society and Read House & Gardens.
For press coverage of the event, go to the following:
Delaware Day marks unveiling of American Revolution museum
Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, Va.—March 25, 2017
The five state museums administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs—the New Castle Court House Museum, the Johnson Victrola Museum, The Old State House, the John Dickinson Plantation and the Zwaanendael Museum—will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. The museums will return to their normally scheduled hours thereafter.
-Tours explore the surviving hull section of this 18th-century shipwreck-
Beginning on June 7, 2017, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will offer tours that explore the 18th-century history, artifacts and 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. Tours will take place at 9 a.m. on the following Wednesdays during 2017: June 7, 14, 21 and 28; July 5, 12, 19 and 26; Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27.
Tours begin 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 for interpretation and viewing of the ship’s surviving hull section. Each tour lasts approximately two hours.
Tickets are available at the Zwaanendael Museum. Tours are restricted to individuals age 10 and up with space limited to 12 participants per tour. Walk-ups are welcome but space is not guaranteed. Admission is $10 per person (cash or check only). For reservations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 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.
The surviving section of the DeBraak’s hull and its associated artifact collection have been curated by the division 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.