Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Former president of Ghana visits John Dickinson Plantation

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

John Kufuor, former president of the Republic of Ghana, visited the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover on Saturday, May 16, 2015 where he was treated to a guided tour by site supervisor Gloria Henry. Kufuor was in Dover to deliver Delaware State University’s commencement address on May 17.

(From left) Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Deputy Director Suzanne Savery, President John Kufuor and site supervisor Gloria Henry behind the John Dickinson Plantation’s mansion house.

(From left) Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Deputy Director Suzanne Savery, President John Kufuor and site supervisor Gloria Henry behind the John Dickinson Plantation’s mansion house.

President Kufuor (left) listens to Gloria Henry (right). At center is a museum figure depicting John Dickinson.

President Kufuor (left) listens to Gloria Henry (right). At center is a museum figure depicting John Dickinson.

Henry’s tour provided extensive information on the life of Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, signer of the Constitution and “Penman of the Revolution.” In a remarkable moment, Kufuor mentioned that he had studied law at Lincoln’s Inn in London which is located across the street from Middle Temple where Dickinson studied. Other highlights of the tour included an examination of books in Dickinson’s library, weaving on the plantation’s barn loom, and demonstrations of meat curing in the smokehouse and hearth cooking in the log’d dwelling. Kufuor was accompanied on the tour by his nephew Dr. Akwasi Osei, a member of the Delaware State University faculty and former chair of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation.

President Kufuor listens to historic-site interpreter Chris Merrill outside the plantation’s smokehouse.

President Kufuor listens to historic-site interpreter Chris Merrill outside the plantation’s smokehouse.

Exploring the plantation’s barn loom.

Exploring the plantation’s barn loom.

Go to the following to read a press account of President Kufuor’s address at Delaware State University

Former president of Ghana gives DSU commencement
News Journal, Wilmington, Del.—May 17, 2015

 


U.S. military members invited to free lecture/tours of the hull of the DeBraak

Friday, May 15th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

U.S. military personnel are invited to attend free lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798.

Interpreter pointing to the remaining section of the DeBraak's hull.

Interpreter pointing to the remaining section of the DeBraak’s hull.

Normally $10 per person, reservations for the lecture/tours, which will take place on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 9 a.m. and Noon, are free for current and former members of the U.S. armed forces and their families (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) with a limit of 12 visitors per program. Military identification is required. Reservations are available only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

All programs 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 “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World,” an exhibit that tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late 18th century. Attendees of the lecture will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.

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

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

This special offering is part of the Blue Star Museums program, a vehicle for outreach to members of the United States armed forces. A collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America, the program offers free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

 

Division to sponsor 22 special events during June 2015

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of June 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 22 special programs at sites across the state. Except where noted, programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull. Lecture/tours of the 19th century British warship will be conducted beginning in June and continuing through September 2015.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull. Lecture/tours of the 19th century British warship will be conducted beginning in June and continuing through September 2015.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, June 2015

Mondays, June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2015
Lecture/tour of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak. Explore the history of the DeBraak which was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Program includes a trip to the hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Programs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Limited seating. Admission $10 by reservation only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Thursdays, June 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2015
“Thirsty on Thursdays.” Learn how to make cool 18th-century drinks including switchels, lemonade and tea. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, June 6, 2015
Free lecture/tour of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak for U.S. military members and their families. Explore the history of the DeBraak which was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Program includes a trip to the hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Programs at 9 a.m. and Noon. Limited seating. Tours for current and former members of the U.S. military and their families only. Admission free by reservation only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Saturday, June 6, 2015
“Bring Your Partners: Learn the Art of Old English Country Dancing.” Inter-active program in which visitors will discover the style that was the precursor to square dancing. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Programs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, June 6, 2015
“The Golden Age of Jazz.” Here tunes from the hottest era in jazz music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines and join in on popular dances from that time. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Programs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13, 2015
Separation Day. Celebration marking the 238th anniversary of Delaware’s separation from Great Britain and Pennsylvania and the formation of the Delaware State. Programs include activities at the New Castle Court House Museum. Downtown New Castle. Friday, 5–10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 302-323-4453 or 302-545-1650.

Saturday, June 13, 2015
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.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Friday, June 19, 2015
The Doctor Is In.” Living-history theatrical performance by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs historical interpreter Dennis Fisher exploring the life and times of Dr. James Sykes, an 18th to 19th-century Dover physician. Partnership between the division and the Dover Public Library. Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, Dover. 7 p.m. 302-736-7030.

Dennis Fisher will portray Dr. James Sykes in “The Doctor Is In” program on June 19, 2015.

Dennis Fisher will portray Dr. James Sykes in “The Doctor Is In” program on June 19, 2015.

Sunday, June 21, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when David Scott Taylor of the American Historical Theatre performs “Gideon Olmstead—Adventures of a Sea Captain During the Revolution.” Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148.

Monday, June 22, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when Daisy Century of the American Historical Theatre performs “Phyllis Phillis Wheatley’s Voyage to Britain” which explores an episode in the life of the first published African-American poet. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148. Note spelling correction.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Concert by the Skinny Leg Pete Band performing soul, funk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Stango Park, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes. 7 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Painting Party @ The Pole Shed.” Aided by an art instructor, guests at one of Delaware’s most historic estates will help to create the “Peaceful Path” painting while enjoying food and beverages provided by Caffé Gelato. Buena Vista Conference Center, 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), New Castle. 6–8:30 p.m. Admission $39 in advance. For tickets, go to http://www.painting-parties.com/6-23—buena-vista-conference-center.html. For information, call 302-323-4430.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when Christian Johnson of the American Historical Theatre portrays William Augustus Newell founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service. Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes. 302-645-7670.

Christian Johnson will portray Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service, on June 24, 2015.

Christian Johnson will portray Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service, on June 24, 2015.

Thursday, June 25, 2015
17th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.” Programs begin at Noon and culminate at 7:15 p.m. when Kim Hanley of the American Historical Theatre portrays first lady Abigail Adams discussing trade and embargoes during the American Revolution. Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes. 302-645-7670.

State of Delaware’s museums again say thanks to America’s military personnel

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

For the fourth year, the six museums of the state of Delaware have joined the ranks of Blue Star Museums as a vehicle for outreach to members of the United States armed forces.

Blue Star Museums poster

The program is a collaborative effort of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America. It offers free admission to active duty military personnel including members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard and Reserve, with up to five family members, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa are participating in the program including children’s museums, fine art museums, history and science museums and nature centers.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the state of Delaware’s six museums tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Although admission to the state’s museums is already free, participation in the Blue Star Museums program allows the division to expand its outreach efforts to military personnel and thank them for their service to the nation.

 

Archaeological symposium at the New Castle Court House Museum on May 9, 2015

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

On Saturday, May 9, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware, will present “The Early Colonial Delaware Valley—An Archaeological Symposium.” Now in its eighth year, the symposium is dedicated to building a regional-level dialog that can identify the uniqueness of the cultures that existed in the Delaware Valley during the early period of European colonization.

New Castle Court House Museum

New Castle Court House Museum

The symposium will take place at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Craig Lukezic at craig.lukezic@state.de.us or call 302-736-7407.

Go to the following for a complete symposium schedule.

Schedule released for 2015 Chautauqua tent shows

Monday, April 20th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

The First State’s essential relationship with the Delaware River and Bay, and the sea, will be brought to life during the 17th annual Chautauqua tent show, “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past,” that will take place at a variety of downtown Lewes, Del. locations from June 21 to 25, 2015. A preliminary schedule of events is listed below. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Christian Johnson will portray Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service, on June 24, 2015.

Christian Johnson will portray Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service, on June 24, 2015.

A unique mixture of education and entertainment, Lewes’ Chautauqua will be held under a large tent and will feature re-enactors who take on the personas of celebrated historical figures, educating and entertaining audiences as they bring the past to life. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the featured characters who will include American-Revolutionary-War-era sea captain Gideon Olmstead; enslaved African-American poet Phillis Wheatley discussing her voyage to Britain; Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service; and first lady Abigail Adams discussing trade and embargoes during the American Revolution.

Kim Hanley will portray first lady Abigail Adams on June 25, 2015.

Kim Hanley will portray first lady Abigail Adams on June 25, 2015.

Chautauqua takes its name from a series of adult education programs that were first held at a campsite on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in upstate New York during the late-19th century. Chautauquas spread throughout America in the late-19th and early-20th centuries bringing speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day to a wide cross-section of the nation’s rural and small-town population. Circuit Chautauquas (also known as Tent Chautauquas) were an itinerant manifestation of the movement. Programs would be presented in tents pitched in a field near town. After several days, the Chautauqua would fold its tents and move on to the next community. The popularity of Chautauquas peaked in the mid-1920s, after which radio, movies and automobiles brought about the gradual disappearance of the movement by the 1940s.

Reborn in the 1970s as a vehicle for humanities education, modern Chautauquas are organized around a core program in which re-enactors portray celebrated historical figures, speaking and interacting with audiences, often in the setting of a large outdoor tent. Modern Chautauquas have been presented annually in Delaware since 1999 featuring a wide variety of historical figures including Abraham Lincoln; Amelia Earhart; Dolley Madison; Eleanor Roosevelt; Edgar Allan Poe; the Lone Ranger; John Philip Sousa; and Delaware’s own Pvt. James Elbert, Maj. Allen McLane, F.O.C. Darley and Clifford Brown. Delaware’s 2015 Chautauqua tent show is being presented as a partnership between the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Lewes Historical Society and the Lewes Chamber of Commerce.

“Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past”
17th annual Chautauqua tent show, Lewes, Del., June 21–25, 2015

Preliminary schedule as of April 15, 2015
Free admission for all events

Sunday, June 21, 2015
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148
Noon          “Captain John Smith on the Nanticoke.” Lecture by archaeologist Dan Griffith explores the natural environment of the Nanticoke River watershed in the early-17th century

1:15 p.m.    “Piloting on the Delaware River and Bay.” Lecture by retired river-pilot Dick Buckaloo

2:30 p.m.    “Songs and Stories of Old Sailing Days.” Family-friendly performance in which Matthew Dodd, dressed in period clothing, takes listeners back in time to the days of sail

3:45 p.m.    “The History of the C & D Canal: A Tale of Towns, Villages, Locks, and Bridges.” Historian Michael Dixon tells the fascinating story of how the canal shaped Delaware’s history

6 p.m.         “Songs and Stories of Old Sailing Days.” Family-friendly performance in which Matthew Dodd, dressed in period clothing, takes listeners back in time to the days of sail

7:15 p.m.    “Adventures of a Sea Captain During the Revolutionary War.” David Scott Taylor of the American Historical Theatre portrays Capt. Gideon Olmstead

Matthew Dodd will present sea shanties and stories on June 21, 2015.

Matthew Dodd will present sea shanties and stories on June 21, 2015.

Monday, June 22, 2015
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148
Noon          “Delaware Built: The American Line.” Lecture by Dr. William Flayhart on the first successful American-flag steamship line, started in 1873

1:15 p.m.    Scott Bossert, marine supervisor for the Delaware Bay and River Cooperative, discusses the organization’s oil-spill-recovery vessel

2:30 p.m.    “Re-Creation of the 1950 Study of Zooplankton in the Delaware Bay.” Chris Petrone, marine education specialist for the University of Delaware’s Sea Grant College Program, discusses the re-created study being conducted aboard the Joanne Daiber, the program’s new boat which is named for the researcher who led the original study and who was the first female scientist at the university

3:45 p.m.    ”Menhaden Industry in Lewes.” Lecture by Tom Brown, Lewes Historical Society volunteer and former chief of staff of the National Archives and Records Administration

6 p.m.         The Bowman-Braddock Duo. Flute and guitar performance with readings form Howard Pyle’s pirate story “Tom Chist and the Treasure Box” which was set at Cape Henlopen

7:15 p.m.    “An Enslaved Poet’s Voyage to Britain and Back.” Dr. Daisy Century of the American Historical Theatre portrays Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet, recounting her Atlantic voyages

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Stango Park, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes. 302-645-1148
7 p.m.         Concert by the Skinny Leg Pete Band performing soul, funk, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Part of Lewes’ Summer Concert Series

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes. 302-645-7670
Noon          “Treasures of the Sea.” Lecture by Susan Doering, coordinator of the exhibit at the Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown

1:15 p.m.    “Cape Henlopen Quarantine Station.” Lecture by Shawn Heacock, trainer/educator at Cape Henlopen State Park

2:30 p.m.    “History of the U.S. Life-Saving Service in Delaware.” Utilizing a local shipwreck as an illustration, Laura Scharle, site supervisor of the Indian River Life-Saving Station discusses the formation of the service and common 19th-century rescue techniques

3:45 p.m.    “Run It Up the Flagpole and Sea.” Utilizing a reconstructed 1884 life-saving station as a setting, visitors will work together to decode a nautical signal-flag message in order to rescue an imaginary stranded ship and crew. This family-friendly program will also feature historical interpreters, dressed in period clothing, portraying members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service as they share true tales of harrowing shipwrecks and rescues off of the Delaware coast

6 p.m.         Old-time radio show presented by the Ad Hoc Touring Company, a component of Possum Point Players in Georgetown, Del.

7:15 p.m.    Christian Johnson of the American Historical Theatre portrays Gov. William Augustus Newell, founder of U.S. Life-Saving Service

 Thursday, June 25, 2015
Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes. 302-645-7670
Noon          Demonstration of fly-casting and other fly-fishing techniques

1:15 p.m.    Lecture on the Lightship Overfalls by Bob Gibson of the Overfalls Foundation

2:30 p.m.    “World War II Subchasers.” Presentation by historian Joan Lofland on the subchasers built at the Vinyard Shipyard in Milford, Del.

3:45 p.m.    “Salvage of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak.” Claudia Leister, executive director of the Milford Museum, discusses the salvage operation of the 18th-century British warship that took place off the coast of Cape Henlopen in the 1980s

6 p.m.         Pyrates Royale Duo. Swashbuckling family-friendly musical performance

7:15 p.m.    “Embargo Acts, Trade, Privateers and Crossing the Atlantic.” Kim Hanley of the American Historical Theatre portrays first lady Abigail Adams as she describes her trans-Atlantic voyages and speaks her mind about issues of the day during the American Revolution

Current division-sponsored displays

Monday, April 20th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

In addition to sponsoring exhibits and special programs at sites across Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs creates displays that provide a brief accent on different aspects of history and culture. Less formal than exhibits, these displays provide a compliment to the primary activities available at museums, historic sites, libraries, government buildings, visitor centers and other public places.

Photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. The image is part of the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” at Dover's Legislative Hall.

Photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. The image is part of the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” at Dover’s Legislative Hall.

Following is a listing of division-sponsored displays that are currently on-view at sites across Delaware:

  •  Ongoing
    “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow”
    The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.

Utilizing graphics, clothing and memorabilia from the collections of the state of Delaware, the display explores how Delawareans expressed their deep sorrow upon the death of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865.

Carved slate featuring a likeness of Abraham Lincoln that was on-board the funeral train that left Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1865 bound for Springfield, Ill. The object is part of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” that will open at The Old State House on April 21, 2015.

Carved slate featuring a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. The object was on-board Lincoln’s funeral train that left Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1865 bound for Springfield, Ill. It is part of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” at The Old State House.

  • Ongoing
    Sculpture by Charles Parks
    New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.

The display features depictions of noted historical and political figures including a Minute Man, and presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush. The works compliment the familiar statue of William Penn, also created by Parks, which stands in front of the Arsenal building on Market Street in New Castle.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Over the course of a prolific 50-plus-year career, Charles Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. His numerous honors and awards include a Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts from the state of Delaware (1973), the Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, the Meiselman Prize for Classical Sculpture from the National Sculpture Society, the Gold Medal from the National Sculpture Society Annual Exhibition and the Tiffany Foundation Award for Creative Sculpture. In 2011, Parks and his wife donated more than 300 of the sculptor’s works to the state of Delaware including bronzes, plasters, woodworks and over 250 fiberglass works ranging in size from eight inches to nine feet from various periods in Parks’ career.

  • Ongoing
    “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis”
    Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover. Limited visitation hours; call 302-739-9194 before planning a visit. Free admission.

On view over the course of a year, the display will be presented in three succeeding segments, each featuring a different selection of images from The William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection. The Willis collection includes more than 600 photographs taken by the Dover, Del. native during military service in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945 including images of crash scenes and battle-damaged military aircraft, photos of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and aerial views of villages in Normandy, France. Willis also photographed the daily procedures of base life as well as United Service Organizations (USO) shows featuring celebrities such as Jack Benny and Ingrid Bergman and a concert by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This large photographic collection, of which only approximately 20 images will be featured in each segment of the display, surfaced after Willis’ death and was brought to the division’s attention which accepted it into the permanent collections of the state of Delaware in 2012.

Photograph of William D. Willis on display at Legislative Hall.

Photograph of William D. Willis on display at Legislative Hall.

William D. Willis was born on June 14, 1919 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.

Division to sponsor 10 special events during May 2015

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

During the month of May 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 10 special programs at sites across the state. Except where noted, programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Historic-site interpreter Barbara Carrow conducting a hearth-cooking demonstration at the John Dickinson Plantation. Hearth cooking will be featured during the May 2, 2015 program, “Dover Days at the John Dickinson Plantation.”

Historic-site interpreter Barbara Carrow conducting a hearth-cooking demonstration at the John Dickinson Plantation. Hearth cooking will be featured during the May 2, 2015 program, “Dover Days at the John Dickinson Plantation.”

Highlights of the month include the 82nd Annual Dover Days Festival on May 1 to 3 which will feature several division-sponsored programs commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War including historical theater, music and a display. Meanwhile, the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will celebrate the festival from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 2 with colonial games, hearth cooking utilizing 18th-century recipes and special tours.

The adventure, romance, excitement and hardships experienced by 18th- and 19th-century seafarers will be brought to life at the fourth annual Zwaanendael Maritime Festival: “A Sailor’s Life for Me” that will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 23 at the Zwaanendael Museum located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes. The festival will provide opportunities for adults as well as children to experience the everyday lives of sailors by scrubbing the deck, learning about shipboard food, playing “Crown and Anchor” and other Colonial-period games, exploring a vessel’s cargo and the merchants who shipped it, and serving on a block-and-tackle station where visitors will be drilled by a demanding mariner looking for new crew members.

Historic-site interpreters, dressed in period clothing, will be demonstrating shipboard life at the Zwaanendael Maritime Festival on May 23, 2015.

Historic-site interpreters, dressed in period clothing, will be demonstrating shipboard life at the Zwaanendael Maritime Festival on May 23, 2015.

Finally, on Saturday, May 9 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the New Castle Court House Museum, located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, will host “The Early Colonial Delaware Valley—An Archaeological and Historical Symposium.” Now in its eighth year, the symposium is dedicated to building a regional-level dialog that can identify the uniqueness of the cultures that existed in the Delaware Valley during the early period of European colonization.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, May 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015
“Sounds of War: Patriotic Music.” Guided tours examine music’s influence during America’s wars when patriotic songs were composed throughout the nation. Hear music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines that was popularized during the Civil War and later recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company. Part of the Dover Days Festival. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
Dover Days at the John Dickinson Plantation. Activities include tours, Colonial games and hearth cooking utilizing 18th-century recipes. Part of the Dover Days Festival. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
Fried Okra: Civil War Era Music.” Performance by Rick Hudson and Friends. Part of the Dover Days Festival. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Programs at Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
“Two Civil War Soldiers.” Historical play about two Confederate soldiers captured at the battle of Gettysburg and subsequently imprisoned at Fort Delaware. Part of the Dover Days Festival. Dover Century Club, 40 The Green, Dover. 1 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, May 9, 2015
Eighth annual Symposium on the Early Colonial Archaeology of the Delaware Valley Region. Featuring informal presentations, the program is designed to build a regional-level dialog that can identify the uniqueness of the early Colonial cultures of the Delaware Valley. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-323-4453. To reserve a place, send an e-mail to craig.lukezic@de.state.us.

Saturday, May 9, 2015
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.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, May 16, 2015
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. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission free at the New Castle Court House Museum. Admission charge at other venues. 302-322-5774.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Fourth Annual Zwaanendael Maritime Festival: “A Sailor’s Life for Me.” Maritime-themed activities, games, displays by local organizations and more. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Monday, May 25, 2015
“Victor’s Music of Summer.” Jump into summer with hit songs from the past played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Monday, May 25, 2015
Stories of Freedom and Courage.” Special guided tours focus on the unique stories of freedom and equality that impacted Delaware citizens. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Reservations still available for lecture/tours of the DeBraak hull

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

A limited number of reservations are still available for the Lewes, Del. based lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. The program is a 2014 recipient of a Leadership in History Award, the American Association for State and Local History’s most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

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

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

Lecture/tours, which are limited to 12 visitors per program, will take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the following Mondays during 2015 June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; July 6, 13, 20 and 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31; and Sept. 14, 21 and 28. (Note: Tours will not be conducted on Sept. 7.) Free tours for current and former members of the U.S. military and their families will also be presented on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 9 a.m. and Noon. Military identification is required for the June 6 tours.

All programs 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.” The exhibit tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late 18th century. Attendees of the lecture will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.

Interpreter pointing to the remaining section of the DeBraak’s hull.

Interpreter pointing to the remaining section of the DeBraak’s hull.

Reservations for the lecture/tours are $10 per person (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) and are available only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, 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 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 framing elements of the lower hull and a large section of the starboard (right) side.

 

Division museums closed on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by Jim Yurasek

-John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House and Zwaanendael Museum also closed on Good Friday, April 3, 2015-

The six 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 First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, the John Dickinson Plantation and the Zwaanendael Museum—will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. The John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House and Zwaanendael Museum will also be closed for the state holiday on Good Friday, April 3, 2015. The state’s museums located in downtown Dover—the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, The Old State House and the Johnson Victrola Museum—will be open during their regularly scheduled hours on Friday, April 3, 2015. All six of the museums will be open during their regularly scheduled hours on Saturday, April 4, 2015.

Senate chamber in The Old State House. Photo by Don Pearse Photographers.

Senate chamber in The Old State House. Photo by Don Pearse Photographers.