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Lecture on Lewes, Del.’s menhaden industry to take place at the Zwaanendael Museum

Date Posted: Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Categories:  Historical and Cultural Affairs News

Listing of museum events through June 2014 also included

On Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at 2 p.m., the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., will present a lecture on Lewes’ menhaden industry by Tom Brown, Lewes Historical Society volunteer and former chief of staff of the National Archives and Records Administration. The program is the 1950s chapter of “Delaware Decades,” an eight-part series of lectures exploring successive decades in Delaware’s history from the 1930s to the 2000s. Admission to the event is free and open to the public but seating is limited due to space restrictions. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Atlantic menhaden

Used for industrial purposes rather than as a source of food, menhaden, also known as bunker, is processed for its oil and to make fertilizer, feed, paint and perfume. The fish’s name is derived from the Native American word “munnawhatteaug” meaning “that which manures” (fertilizer). In the 1950s, Lewes, Del. was the largest menhaden port in the nation processing an estimated 390 million pounds of the fish in 1953. However, in little over a decade, the town’s menhaden fishery collapsed due to overharvesting. It never returned. Luckily, Lewes later saw its fortunes rebound due to tourism.

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., C.A., serves the Lewes Historical Society in a wide variety of voluntary capacities including membership on the board of trustees as well as work as a docent and program speaker. Prior to his retirement, he served as chief of staff of the National Archives and Records Administration for four years, as an archivist for eight years, and as the manager of the Archival Services Program in the Center for Electronic Records at the National Archives and Records Administration. In addition, he has held leadership positions with the Society of American Archivists, the International Association of Social Science Information Services, and the Academy of Certified Archivists.

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters.

Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history. Current exhibits include “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World” which tells the story of His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak, a British warship that sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798; and “Delaware and the War of 1812” which examines the service and sacrifice of Delawareans of 1812 to 1815, and the important role that the state played in a conflict that helped shape the development of the United States as a nation.

Following is a schedule of Zwaanendael-Museum-sponsored events through June 2014. Unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Zwaanendael Museum located at 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958. Admission is free for all events listed. For additional information, call 302-645-1148:

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1950s: ‘Menhaden Industry in Lewes.’ ” Lecture by Tom Brown, Lewes Historical Society volunteer and former archivist with the National Archives. Part three of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 15, 2014
“Delaware’s Decades—the 1960s: ‘History of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.’ ” Lecture by Mike DiPaolo, executive director of the Lewes Historical Society. J. Fred Coldren, former business manager of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and historian for the 50th anniversary of the ferry. Part four of an eight-part series exploring decades in Delaware’s history. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Note change in speaker.

Thursday–Saturday, April 10-12, 2014
Lewes Tulip Festival. City-wide series of activities celebrating Lewes’ Dutch heritage including Dutch games, crafts and a display of Delftware ceramics at the Zwaanendael Museum. Sponsored by the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Downtown Lewes, Del. 302-645-8073.

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Dutch-American Friendship Day. Discover Delaware’s Dutch roots and learn how that connection is alive today. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 26, 2014
King’s Day. Help celebrate the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in a program that will also explore royal titles and Delaware’s Dutch connection. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 24, 2014
3rd Annual Zwaanendael Maritime Festival. Maritime-themed activities, games, displays by local organizations and more. 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Sunday and Monday, June 15 and 16, 2014
“16th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: ‘With Malice Toward None…Delaware Life During the Civil War.’ ” Day-long series of activities culminating with re-enactors portraying historic personalities. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958. Times TBA.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
“16th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: ‘With Malice Toward None…Delaware Life During the Civil War.’ ” Concert. Performer TBA. Stango Park, 111 Adams Ave., Lewes, DE19958. 7 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday, June 18 and 19, 2014
“16th Annual Chautauqua Tent Show: ‘With Malice Toward None…Delaware Life During the Civil War.’ ” Day-long series of activities culminating with re-enactors portraying historic personalities. Lewes Historical Society complex, 110 Shipcarpenter St., Lewes, DE 19958. Times TBA. 302-645-7670.

Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone:  302-736-7413
E-mail:  Jim.Yurasek@state.de.us
Web:   http://history.delaware.gov

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