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  Archived Posts From: 2019


Division welcomes historic-site interpreters, executive housekeeper

Written on: February 22nd, 2019 in News

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently welcomed two new historic-site interpreters at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes and an executive housekeeper at the Buena Vista conference/event center near New Castle. Following are profiles of these newest members of the division family.

As historic-site interpreters who conduct tours and special programs at the Zwaanendael Museum, Madeline Golden and Dante Silicato help bring to life the Lewes-area’s maritime, military and social history. A resident of Milton, Del., Golden grew up in Harrington, Del. She graduated in 2017 from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in English and history. As part of her studies, she earned a certificate in public history in which she was trained in how to effectively share historical information with diverse audiences and to critically examine how history is presented. Her degree also included an internship at the Morven Museum and Garden in Princeton, N.J. and study abroad in Greece.

Madeline Golden

Madeline Golden

Originally from Wilmington, Del., Silicato now lives in Milton, Del. with his wife Gwendolyn. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in early American history from West Chester University. A Renaissance man, Silicato has been involved in theater education in Wilmington and Arden, Del., and has lived in Hollywood, Ca. where he acted in several films and television programs. In addition to producing his own short film and documentary, he is interested in film history and hopes to create a film society in Milton and a traveling film series that will screen international films in communities across the region.

Dante Silicato

Dante Silicato

Executive housekeeper Carrie Shreve works hard to ensure that Buena Vista is clean and ready for the many visitors that attend events at the site. In addition to the upkeep of the house, her varied responsibilities include assisting with the set-up and break-down of events, food service, hospitality, customer relations and inventory management.

Carrie Shreve

Carrie Shreve

Shreve spent her childhood years in South St. Georges, Del. and later moved with her family to New Castle, Del. where she graduated from William Penn High School. She has worked as a receptionist, office manager and accountant for a variety of mechanical contracting companies. While living in Chincoteague, Va., she managed a team of workers for a house-cleaning business. She and her three children recently moved back to New Castle to be closer to her extended family.

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National Women’s History Month events among eight special programs at division museums during March 2019

Written on: February 20th, 2019 in EventsMuseumsNews

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be hosting eight special events during the month of March 2019 at the museums of the State of Delaware. Two of these programs will be presented in celebration of National Women’s History Month. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public.

Operatic soprano Rosa Ponselle will be one of the artists featured in the “The Female Artists of Victor” program at the Johnson Victrola Museum on March 2, 2019.

Operatic soprano Rosa Ponselle will be one of the artists featured in the “The Female Artists of Victor” program at the Johnson Victrola Museum on March 2, 2019.

Designated by joint resolutions of the United States House of Representatives and Senate and proclaimed by the American president, National Women’s History Month is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s lives and historic achievements. Each year National Women’s History Month employs a unifying theme and recognizes national honorees whose work and lives testify to that theme. For 2019, the theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.” The theme honors women who have led efforts to end war, violence and injustice, and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, March 2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019
“The Female Artists of Victor.” National Women’s History Month guided tours focus on the women who recorded for the Victor Talking Machine Company, accompanied by recordings of their music 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, March 2, 2019
“The Fashionable Bad Girls of Delaware.” National Women’s History Month presentation explores several stories of infamous females in Delaware’s history. First Saturday in the First State program. 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.

Friday, March 8, 2019
Concert by the Slinging Daisies. Original Americana groove music. 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.

Friday–Sunday, March 8–10, 2019
“Stories of Freedom.” In celebration of National Harriet Tubman Day, guided tours will feature stories of freedom and the Underground Railroad as they pertain to the Old State House and Dover, Delaware. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Celebrate March 10, National Harriet Tubman Day, with “Stories of Freedom” at The Old State House.

Celebrate March 10, National Harriet Tubman Day, with “Stories of Freedom” at The Old State House.

Saturday, March 9, 2019
“Pine Tar and Petticoats.” Lecture explores the maritime clothing and material culture of Lewes, Del. in the second half of the 18th century. Part of “Across the Ages to the Edge of the Sea,” a lecture series exploring the history of the Lewes area from the 17th to the 20th centuries. 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 March 8, 2019.

Saturday, March 16, 2019
“Preserving African-American History in Delaware: Highlighting Vibrant Communities Through Research and the ‘Green Book.’ ” Presentation by historian 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 also explore the stories of African-Americans and their challenges living through the Jim Crow laws in Delaware from the 1920s to the 1960s. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St. New Castle. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-323-4453.

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 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.

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New Castle Green street lamp repaired

Written on: February 19th, 2019 in Historic SitesNews

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

Dog walkers and residents who enjoy an evening stroll across the New Castle Green have probably noticed that the street lamp in the center of the Green has been dark for some time. This has been a recurring problem for several years, usually due to a bad bulb or a fault in the wiring.

Recently repaired street lamp on the New Castle Green

Recently repaired street lamp on the New Castle Green

Recently James Scott, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ maintenance supervisor, had the fixture examined by an electrical contractor and it was decided the old lamp needed a complete overall. The interior wiring was repaired and the old ballast-style light was replaced with new LED lighting which will be more energy efficient and cost effective. To complete the makeover, the light cover was removed, cleaned and securely remounted. This is a continuation of repairs and improvements by the division to the Green and surrounding state-owned properties.

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Site of purported African-American cemetery discovered near Frankford

Written on: February 18th, 2019 in ArchaeologyNews

By Doug Denison, director of community relations, Delaware Department of State

Archaeologists working at a property near Frankford, Sussex County, Del., have discovered what appears to be the site of a cemetery known to the local community to contain the remains of African Americans who lived in the area.

Under the observation of an archaeologist from the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office, archaeologists employed by a private landowner have delineated at least nine graves at the site, known as the Orr property or Hall Plantation.

A headstone was also found at the site bearing the name C.S. Hall and the lines “Co. K, 32nd U.S.C.T.” (an abbreviation for U.S. Colored Troops, the designation for units comprised of African American soldiers during the American Civil War).

Headstone of C.S. Hall of the United States Colored Troops. The headstone was found on the Orr property (Hall Plantation).

Headstone of C.S. Hall of the United States Colored Troops. The headstone was found on the Orr property (Hall Plantation).

The headstone has not been correlated to a specific grave, and no further information is yet known about the identities of the burials at the site. The presence of the remains of enslaved persons has not yet been confirmed through archaeology or review of the historical record.

“This cemetery is a significant discovery for the community and for all Delawareans who value and appreciate our state’s rich history,” said Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, which oversees the State Historic Preservation Office. “As work continues at the site, we hope to learn more about those who are interred there, so that they may be properly memorialized and their personal stories retold.”

The State Historic Preservation Office will offer guidance, advice and supervision as the landowner continues archaeological work at the site. Though the site is located on private property, the state will take an active role in ensuring that the ongoing archaeological investigation is thorough, professional and carried out in an ethical and responsible manner.

The landowner was an active participant in the gathering of local information about the site, and has indicated that the cemetery will be preserved. The state will work closely with the landowner to determine a plan for preservation.

“I would also like to thank the neighbors nearby for their role in calling attention to the presence of a cemetery here,” Slavin said. “Their recollections and local knowledge about the site and its location were key to discovering these burials. They spoke up, and thanks to them we can add a new page to Delaware history.”

For press coverage about the discovery of unmarked graves at the Orr property (Hall Plantation), go to the following:

USCT’s Headstone Discovered in Delaware
Emerging Civil War, onlineFeb. 23, 2019

Archaeologists thank Sussex oral history for unmarked African-American grave discovery
Daily Times, Salisbury, Md.—Feb. 25, 2019

Civil War soldier’s gravestone discovered, may offer vital clue to long-lost African-American cemetery
Fox News, New York, N.Y.—Feb. 22, 2019

Archaeologists Surveying Delaware Site Find What Appears To Be Unmarked African-American Grave Site
Blavity, online—Feb. 21, 2019

Delaware archaeologists find African-American graves that may date to Civil War
WHYY, Philadelphia, Pa.—Feb. 20, 2019

19th Century African American Cemetery Found Near Frankford
WBOC TV, Salisbury, Md.—Feb. 19, 2019

‘A needle in a haystack’: archeologists find 11 graves at Frankford site
Delaware Public Media, Dover, Del.—Feb. 19, 2019

Unmarked graves found at site where blacks said to be buried
Washington Post, D.C.—Feb. 19, 2019

African American cemetery discovered during archaeological dig at Frankford plantation
WDEL Radio, Wilmington, Del.—Feb. 18, 2019

Archaeologists Unearth What Appears To Be African American Cemetery In Delaware
KYW-TV, Philadelphia, Pa.—Feb. 18, 2019

Unmarked graves found at development project where African-Americans said to be buried
Daily Times, Salisbury, Md.—Feb. 18, 2019

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Division seeks conservation technician

Written on: February 15th, 2019 in News

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is currently seeking qualified applicants for the position of Conservation Technician I. Job applications are available by going to the Delaware Employment Link.

Based at the Belmont Garage located at 217 Smyrna-Leipsic Road in Smyrna, the Conservation Technician I will be responsible for, among a number of other tasks, hands-on horticultural and arboricultural work. Application opening date: Feb. 20, 2019. Closing date: March 5, 2019.


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Archaeologist John W. Martin joins State Historic Preservation Office staff

Written on: February 14th, 2019 in ArchaeologyNewsPreservation

On Jan. 2, 2019, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office welcomed archaeologist John W. Martin as the newest member of its team of cultural-resource professionals who are working to preserve Delaware’s historic places and unique cultural identity.

John W. Martin

John W. Martin

Martin’s responsibilities at the division include consulting with federal, state and local agencies and applicants concerning the effects of their projects on historic properties; reviewing archaeological work involving the identification, evaluation and treatment of sites; and supporting and participating in public outreach activities. In addition, he is advising agencies and constituents on appropriate delineation of cemeteries, and coordinating the division’s response to discoveries of unmarked burials.

A native Delawarean, Martin has been working in historic preservation for 39 years and is a Registered Professional Archaeologist. His varied résumé includes work as an archaeologist for the Delaware Department of Transportation; the University of Delaware Center for Archaeological Research; and a number of private consulting firms based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Over the course of his career, he has supervised archaeologists and architectural historians on hundreds of projects in ten states.

Martin served as the chair of the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation until joining the division staff, serves on the Delaware Council on Greenways and Trails and is a life member of the Archaeological Society of Delaware. In addition, he was an executive-board member of Preservation Delaware, Inc. for seven years, serving as both vice president and interim president. He holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in anthropology from Rutgers University.

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Historic revitalization subgrants available for eligible rural communities

Written on: February 12th, 2019 in NewsPreservation

The National Park Service is now accepting applications for $5 million in grants through the Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program to support the preservation of historic buildings in rural communities across the country that are listed in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Eligible properties must be listed in the National Register or determined eligible for listing at the national, state, or local level of significance and located within rural (non-urban) communities with populations less than 50,000. States, tribes, certified local governments and non-profits may apply for funding that will in turn be subgranted to rural communities in their jurisdictions. Application deadline: April 1, 2019

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Presidents Day program on George Washington’s 110 rules of civility at The Old State House on Feb. 17, 2019

Written on: February 8th, 2019 in EventsMuseumsNews

In honor of Presidents Day and George Washington’s birthday, The Old State House, located at 25 The Green in Dover, Del., will present “Civility Ascendant: Celebrating George Washington’s Rules for Civil Behavior and Their Legacy for American Politics,” a presentation by Dr. Samuel B. Hoff, George Washington Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science and Law Studies Program Director at Delaware State University.

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff

The program will take place on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, at 2 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public but, due to space restrictions, reservations are suggested by calling the museum at 302-744-5054. Should the event be postponed due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled to Sunday, February 24 at 2 p.m., also at the Old State House.

As part of the program, Hoff will provide an overview of Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior and discuss how they were practiced by subsequent American presidents together with their relevance to contemporary American politics. The program will conclude with reflections on Washington by historic-site interpreter Tom Welch, followed by a reception and display of presidential memorabilia.

Portrait of George Washington by Denis A. Volozan which is on display in the Senate chambers of The Old State House.

Portrait of George Washington by Denis A. Volozan which is on display in the Senate chambers of The Old State House.

“Civility Ascendant: Celebrating George Washington’s Rules for Civil Behavior and Their Legacy for American Politics” is sponsored by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Delaware State Society of the Cincinnati and Delaware State University’s Law Studies Program.

Completed in 1791, The Old State House is one of the earliest state-house buildings in the United States, serving as the home of Delaware’s legislature until 1933 when the General Assembly moved to larger quarters in Legislative Hall. The venerable structure now appears as it would have in the late 1700s during the United States’ critical early years as a nation. It features a courtroom, governor’s and county offices and chambers for the state’s Senate and House of Representatives. The building is situated on Dover’s historic Green, a public area designated by William Penn in 1683. The Old State House is administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The Green is a partner site of the First State National Historical Park.

The Old State House

The Old State House

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