The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has released its annual report which illustrates the programs and services that led to the agency’s accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Go to the following to read the full report: We Are Accredited!—Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs 2017 Annual Report.
By Valerie Kauffman, historic-site interpreter, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
During February 2018, the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St. in Dover, Del., will be celebrating Black History Month with a four-part series of programs entitled “The Evolution of Black Recorded Music.” During the series, we will be playing the recorded performances of noted artists like Jelly Roll Morton, Thomas “Fats” Waller, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson who all held exclusive contracts with the Victor Talking Machine Company and had active stage careers. The first program in the series, entitled “The Roots (1900s to 1910s),” will take place on Feb. 3 at 1 p.m.
In this article, however, I am featuring another extraordinary musician whose compositions were recorded by the Victor Company. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a British composer mostly known for his three cantatas based on the epic poem, “Song of Hiawatha,” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Samuel premiered the first section in 1898, when he was 22. “Onaway, Awake Beloved,” Op. 30, No. 1, from the cantata, “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast,” was recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company as part of the Education Department’s collection and was listed in the high school textbook, “What We Hear in Music,” along with unit-plan suggestions for the teacher.
Samuel was named after the British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was born on Aug. 15, 1875 in London. His father, Daniel Peter Hughes Taylor, was African. Originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone, Taylor was part of a Creole family that had been rescued from transport into American slavery by the British Navy because of the abolition of this practice in Britain. Samuel was raised in Croydon, Surrey by his British mother, Alice Hare Martin. There were numerous musicians on his mother’s side and her father, Benjamin Holman, played the violin. He started teaching Samuel when he was a small child. His ability was apparent at a young age so Holman also paid for him to have violin lessons.
Samuel’s college music training, however, was supervised by Col. Herbert A. Walters who was a silk merchant, army volunteer, amateur musician and honorary choirmaster of St. George’s Church, Croydon. Walters arranged and paid for Samuel to study at the Royal College of Music beginning at age 15. Showing great ability in arrangement, Samuel was encouraged to change from violin to composition as his major. He studied under the distinguished composer and professor Charles Villiers Stanford.
After completing his degree, Samuel became a professional musician. He was appointed a professorship at the Crystal Palace School of Music. He conducted the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire and the choir for the Rochester Choral Society, and was made the resident conductor of the Westmoreland Festival. In 1910, he assumed the position of professor of composition at the Guildhall School of Music. The Handel Society hired him to lead their concerts, and he did so until his death. Along with his many jobs and work as a private teacher, he acted as adjudicator at various festivals and competitions making his first appearance in the role at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1900.
African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar met with Samuel in London in 1896. He set Dunbar’s poems “African Romances,” “Dream Lovers: An Operatic Romance,” “Candle Lightin’ Time” and “A Corn Song” to music. He composed arrangements of the “Twenty-Four Negro Melodies,” Op 59, based on songs such as “Deep River” of which he had heard the Fisk Jubilee Singers perform during their British tour. His program notes for those piano melodies stated “what Brahms has done for the Hungarian folk music, Dvorak for the Bohemian, and Grieg for the Norwegian, I have tried to do for these Negro Melodies.” “Deep River—Negro Melody,” Op. 59, No. 10, is another piece that was recorded under the direction of Victor’s Education Department and was used in the music curriculum designed for high school students.
In 1900, Samuel gave the opening address at the first Pan-African Conference in London. He was the youngest representative present. The conference featured 30 delegates, mainly from England and the West Indies, but only a few Africans and African Americans. Among them was one of America’s leading Black intellectuals, W.E.B. Dubois, who was to become the torchbearer of subsequent Pan-African conferences or congresses as they later came to be called. Along with his friend Dusé Mohammed Ali, Samuel founded “The African Times and Orient Review,” a Pan-Africanist monthly journal first published in London in 1912.
Samuel embarked on tours of America in 1904, 1906 and 1910, and in 1904, he had a private and unprecedented audience with President Theodore Roosevelt in which Roosevelt expressed his desire for more liberal attitudes towards people of color. On that same trip, he met with Booker T. Washington who wrote the preface for Samuel’s “Twenty-Four Negro Melodies.” He conducted the combined forces of the United States Marine Band and an African American choir which was called the Coleridge-Taylor Society in his honor. During the 1906 tour, he presented his compositions “Atonement,” “Quadroon Girl” and “Hiawatha.” This trip took him through the Midwest to St. Louis, Detroit and Milwaukee, and to Toronto, Canada. Exclusive white orchestras as well as African American choral groups invited him to conduct when he toured America in 1910.
On Sept. 1, 1912, at the age of 37, Samuel passed away due to overwork and pneumonia. His wife, Jessie Walmisley Coleridge-Taylor, was provided 100 pounds as a monthly pension from the British government for the rest of her life. The Guildhall School of Music arranged bursaries for both of his children, Hiawatha and Gwendolyn. His children went on to become professional musicians themselves.
Due to early record corporations like The Victor Talking Machine Company, today we are able to reach back and discover the exciting artists that were the foundation of our modern musical culture. We can also gain a new understanding of the contributions that they made to the music industry as well as to society as a whole. Join us at the Johnson Victrola Museum at 1 p.m. on each Saturday in February 2018 to hear presentations from the series, “The Evolution of Black Recorded Music,” and re-discover these musical pioneers.
Students from across the state gathered on Jan. 13, 2018 at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover to celebrate the winners of the 16th annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition and to be recognized for their knowledge of the First State’s influential role in crafting the U.S. Constitution. The Delaware Day competition ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in early December, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Delaware Day commemorates the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787. Six months later, on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document thereby providing the two-thirds majority of the states needed to establish it as the law of the land.
More than 1,100 students from 22 schools were given two months to prepare informative displays illustrating Delaware’s role in the creation and ratification of the Constitution, integrating creative elements such as artwork, poetry, songs and cartoons. This year’s competition featured 35 separate entries, the most in the program’s history. More than 13,500 students have participated in the competition since it was initiated in 2001.
“Delaware Day is our time to celebrate just how important our state was in the early days of the nation,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “As always, the projects our fourth graders presented were outstanding tributes to this legacy, and I congratulate them for their efforts and the time they devoted to learning about the history of the First State.”Each year, Signer’s Awards are presented to schools with the most creative and historically accurate projects. Named in honor of Delaware’s five signers of the U. S. Constitution, the awards recognize schools in each county plus the city of Wilmington as well as a private school. Representatives from the Department of State, including the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, judged the projects focusing on three main areas: historical accuracy, spelling and creativity.
The Signer’s Awards for the 2017 competition are the George Read Award to Eastside Charter School in Wilmington; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award (tie) to Gallaher and Keene elementary schools, both in Newark; the John Dickinson Award to North Dover Elementary School; the Richard Bassett Award to North Laurel Elementary School; and the Jacob Broom Award (four-way tie) to Epworth Christian School in Laurel, Christ the Teacher Catholic School in Glasgow, the Learning Express Academy in Newark; and Wilmington Friends School.
Honorable Mention awards were presented to Brader, Bunker Hill, Booker T. Washington, Lake Forest Central (two projects), Leasure (two projects), Marshall, McVey, Mt. Pleasant (four projects), North Laurel (two projects) and Shields (four projects) elementary schools; the Islamic Academy of Delaware; MOT (three projects) and Odyssey (two projects) charter schools; and Ursuline Academy.
Artistic Merit Awards, reviewed by the Delaware Division of the Arts with assistance from the Newark Arts Alliance, were also announced during the ceremony. These awards recognized projects whose overall visual design and impact, composition, cohesiveness and originality represented artistic excellence. Schools honored in this category were Bunker Hill Elementary School in Middletown, Epworth Christian School in Laurel, Gallaher Elementary School in Newark, North Dover Elementary School and North Laurel Elementary School. Honorable Mention awards in the Artistic Merit category were presented to Keene, North Laurel (Project B) and Shields (Project A) elementary schools; and Eastside Charter and Wilmington Friends schools.
During the month of February 2018, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 18 special events at the museums of the State of Delaware. Thirteen of these events will be presented in commemoration of African-American History Month, an annual observance celebrating the invaluable contributions that the black community has made to the culture and history of the United States. All programs listed are free and open to the public.
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, February 2018
Saturday, Feb. 3
“African-American Archaeology in Delaware.” Presentation by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs archaeologist Craig Lukezic on archaeological investigations that have revealed information about African-American lifeways in Delaware. First Saturday in the First State program. 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.
Saturday, Feb. 3
“The Evolution of Black Recorded Music: ‘The Roots (1900s to 1910s).’ ” Program examines the origins of black recorded music and the adversity black artists, such as Burt Williams, faced during the era of minstrel shows and vaudeville. The program also explores early performers—including Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson who recorded spirituals, and pre-jazz artists like James Reese Europe—who helped lay the foundations for future black recording artists. Part one of a four-part weekly series that examines the evolution of black recorded music from the 1900s to today. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program at 1 p.m. in the museum’s 2nd floor gallery (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling 302-739-3262.
Saturdays, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24
“A World Apart.” Guided tours explore the 18th-century African-American experience on the plantation. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.
Friday, Feb. 9
Concert by Trini Lima. Singer/songwriter. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk and the First State Heritage Park. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 7:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Feb. 10
“African-American History in 20th-Century Delaware A Study of the ‘Green Book.’ ” Presentation by researcher Carlton Hall of the State Historic Preservation Office on the “Green Book,” a travel and vacation guidebook for people of color during the segregation era. The program will explore the stories of African-Americans of the last century and their challenges living through the Jim Crow laws in Delaware from the 1920s to the 1960s. 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.
Saturday, Feb. 10
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, Feb. 10
“The Evolution of Black Recorded Music—‘Down in the Delta: The Jazz Age and the Origins of Blues (1920s to 1940s).’ ” Program examines recording artists like Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway who took the jazz sound of New Orleans and turned it into a popular mainstay of American music; and Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson and B.B. King who helped bring the blues to a larger audience and helped to shape the burgeoning rhythm and blues and rock and roll genres. Part two of a four-part weekly series that examines the evolution of black recorded music from the 1900s to today. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program at 1 p.m. in the museum’s 2nd floor gallery (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling 302-739-3262.
Sunday, Feb. 11
“ ‘What If’: Lincoln Had Failed and the South Became an Independent Nation.” Counterfactual program that considers the question: What would have happened if the South had won the Civil War? Presented by historian and Lincoln enthusiast, Larry Koch, Ed.D. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling 302-744-5054.
Saturday, Feb. 17
“The Dennis Farm: A Free African-American Cultural Legacy.” Presentation by archaeologist Wade Catts on the Dennis Farm in Susquehanna County, Pa. which was settled by free African-Americans in 1793. 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.
Saturday, Feb. 17
“The Evolution of Black Recorded Music: ‘The Rock-n-Roll Soul.’ ” Program examines the roles played by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, Fats Domino and Sister Rosetta Tharpe in establishing soul music, rock and roll, and rhythm and blues. Part three of a four-part weekly series that examines the evolution of black recorded music from the 1900s to today. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program at 1 p.m. in the museum’s 2nd floor gallery (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling 302-739-3262.
Saturday, Feb. 17
“Seafarers Folk Art.” Program featuring demonstrations and hands-on activities. Part four of “Global to Local: International Events and the First State,” a five-part series exploring how world events impacted Delaware’s history. 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 for the lecture are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Feb. 16, 2018.
Sunday, Feb. 18
“Spying for Victory: George Washington, the Culper Spy Ring and the American Revolution.” Program explores the importance of intelligence to the American victory in the Revolutionary War and the contributions made by the Culper Ring and other American spies including Delaware’s Allen McLane. Presented in partnership with the Delaware State Society of the Cincinnati. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling 302-744-5054.
Monday, Feb. 19
Presidents 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, Feb. 22
Washington’s Birthday. 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.
Saturday, Feb. 24
“Stories of African-American History From St. Jones Neck.” Presentation by Gloria Henry, site supervisor of the John Dickinson Plantation, utilizes primary-source materials including manumission documents, bills of sales and family information to illustrate the lives of free and enslaved African-Americans who lived on the estate of the “Penman of the Revolution.” 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.
Saturday, Feb. 24
“The Evolution of Black Recorded Music: ‘MTV and the Age of Self-Expression.’ ” Program highlights the continuation of the Jackson family musical saga—Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s solo careers, how Music Television changed the way audiences experienced music, and the golden age of hip hop with groups like Run DMC, the politically active Public Enemy, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and the emergence of gangsta rap with NWA. Final segment of a four-part weekly series that examines the evolution of black recorded music from the 1900s to today. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program at 1 p.m. in the museum’s 2nd floor gallery (entry via staircase; no elevator). Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling 302-739-3262.
Saturday Feb. 24
“The Archaeology of a Free African-American Household in Central Delaware at the turn of the 19th Century.” African-American History Month lecture by John P. McCarthy, RPA, cultural preservation specialist for Delaware State Parks. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Program at 3 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 for the lecture are required by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Feb. 23, 2018.
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 museums are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest recognition afforded to museums in the United States. 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 division-sponsored events.