During the past six weeks, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has welcomed five new members to its museums staff. All of these employees serve as historic-site interpreters, the division’s front-line connection with the public. Through tours and special programming, historic-site interpreters add a human face to Delaware history by providing in-depth information about the state’s historic places, and by bringing the people and events of the past to life.
Following are profiles of these newest members of the division’s team:
Rehoboth Beach resident Jody Dengler joined the Zwaanendael Museum staff after a varied career that included work as an educator at the Florida Poison Center, and which continues at Wilmington University where she serves as an adjunct instructor in film appreciation. Hailing from a family of history buffs, Dengler grew up in Collegeville, Pa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Mount Olive College in North Carolina.
Melissa Fitzgerald brings an artistic perspective to her work at the John Dickinson Plantation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in painting (with a minor in history) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Master of Fine Arts in illustration from the Savanna College of Art and Design. Fitzgerald’s other love—history—has led to work at the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation’s cultural resources section, and as a historical interpreter at both Fort Delaware State Park and at the Heyward House Historic Center in Bluffton, S.C. Originally from Camden, Del., she currently lives in Odessa, Del.
Four years ago, Courtney Lynahan served as a historical interpreter for the First State Heritage Park during a stint as an AmeriCorps volunteer. After working in a variety of occupations, she is happy to return to the field of history as a historic-site interpreter at the division’s downtown Dover museums. Lynahan holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy with a specialization in historic preservation, both from the University of Delaware. The West Chester, Pa. native has worked as an intern with the cultural-resource services firm John Milner Associates, as a graduate assistant at the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design, and as a volunteer at Fort Delaware. She currently lives in old New Castle.
The circle remains unbroken for Dover resident Eleanor Siyon who developed school programs for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in the 1970s. Originally from Bridgeville, Del., Siyon holds a bachelor’s degree in English education from Delaware State University and is nearing completion of her master’s degree in early childhood education from Capella University. Her current work for the division’s museums focuses on developing new and innovative programming including educational tours focusing on the Underground Railroad. Siyon’s distinguished career includes service as an English teacher and as a contractor developing an alternative-education program for the Delaware Department of Education. She is the author of two children’s books as well as the historical play “Courage in Black and White: The Untold Stories” about the Underground Railroad in Delaware. Her new children’s play, “On Golden Wings,” is currently nearing completion.
Newport, Del. native Stacye Williamson brings a wide variety of skills and knowledge to her work for the division’s downtown Dover museums. Her past experience includes service as a seasonal gardener at Longwood Gardens and as a volunteer in the Mollusk Department of the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Williamson holds two bachelor’s degrees—one in general studies from Wilmington University and a second in anthropology from the University of Delaware. Her abiding interest in food-related history has led to studies in ethno-botany, beekeeping, nutrition and horticulture. She currently lives in Bear, Del.