Historical Affairs programs in October 2021

(DOVER, Del. — Sept. 23, 2021) — The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring a wide variety of activities during the month of October 2021 including, among others, “18th Century Trades Day” on Oct. 9, a program on true crime in song on Oct. 22 and walking tours of a historic cemetery on Oct. 30. Several of these programs will be conducted in front of a live audience, while two will be streamed live on the internet with registration required. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public. Go to the following for additional information and reservation instructions: https://history.delaware.gov/2021/09/07/hca-programs-october-2021/.

Photo of historic site interpreter Chris Merrill in front of the John Dickinson Plantation’s smokehouse
Historic site interpreter Chris Merrill in front of the John Dickinson Plantation’s smokehouse. Demonstrations of the smokehouse will be featured during the “18th Century Trades Day” on Oct. 9, 2021.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs programs, October 2021

Friday, Oct. 1
“The Wreck of the DeBraak.” Virtual program leading up to Coast Day explores the history of the British warship DeBraak which sank off the coast of Lewes in May of 1798 only to be recovered by treasure hunters nearly 200 years later. Program streamed live via Zoom. Registration required. 3:30 p.m. For additional information on DeBraak program, call 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Tuesdays, Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26; Fridays, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; Saturdays, Oct. 2 and 23
Guided visitation to the African burial ground at the John Dickinson Plantation. Guided visitation leads participants to the African burial ground which is believed to be the final resting place for enslaved and free Black men, women and children who died on the plantation. Guests will engage with guides about the historical context and archaeological research of the site. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Programs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission free but reservations recommended by calling 302-739-3277.

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021
Concert by Bad Juju. Blues 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.

Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021
“18th Century Trades Day.” Day-long series of activities explores occupations of the 1700s including preserving food in the smokehouse, dyeing fabric, carpentry, hearth cooking, and an 18th century musket presentation. Masks are required for any indoor activities. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021
Blackbird Creek Fall Festival. Family-friendly event includes outdoor activities, hayrides, display booths, crafts and demonstrations by historical interpreters from the John Dickinson Plantation. Blackbird Creek Reserve, 801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-739-6377.

Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
“Love, Betrayal, and Banjos Strings: True Crime in Songs.” Born out of the traditions of Appalachian musicians, this virtual program from the Johnson Victrola Museum features animated retellings of some of the most famous murder ballads ever recorded dating back to the 1920s. Learn how these songs were twisted and turned throughout time, and their true crime roots. Program streamed live via Zoom. Registration required. 6 p.m. For additional information, call 302-739-3262 or mailto:jvmuseum@Delaware.gov.

Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
“Lantern Tour of the Plantation.” Program explores the games and entertainment that could have occurred at the plantation during the nighttime in the 18th century. Activities will include a wagon ride conducted by staff of the St. Jones Reserve exploring the nocturnal life of the estuary. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program start times 5:30 and 7 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling the John Dickinson Plantation at 302-739-3277 no later than Oct. 21, 2020. This is program is weather dependent.

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021
William Penn Day. Day-long series of programs commemorating the 339th anniversary of Penn’s disembarkment at New Castle, his first landing in the New World. Activities include re-enactors performing historical theatre and tours of the historic court house. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021
“Mysteries of History.” Walking tours explore the unusual tombstones of St. Peter’s cemetery in Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tours leave from the museum at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Free admission but, registration required and limited to 12. Reservations may be made by calling 302-645-1148 no later than Oct. 29, 2021.

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, and special programs, 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 long-term calendar of division-sponsored events.

Picture of the Logo of the American Alliance of Museums

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-608-5326
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Department of State Announces Ownership Transfer of the Kirk and Short Building to the Biggs Museum of American Art

DOVER, DE— Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock announced today that the Department of State has transferred ownership of the Kirk and Short Building located at 15 and 21 The Green, Dover, Delaware to the Biggs Museum of the American Art.

“We are excited about this move because it’s a much better use of the property given the historical significance of The Green and its national park status,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “It will allow the Biggs to grow and expand and become an even more important asset to Dover and Kent County, while also creating additional tourism and business opportunities in the downtown area. Our HCA employees who worked in the building will soon move to Richardson Hall at 29 North State St, another historic building in disrepair that will be better preserved in the years to come.”

“The transfer is a smart, cost-effective decision that will save Delawareans money and will ensure that the Building will realize its highest and best use as a cultural asset,” Bullock added.

“Our public-private partnership with the Biggs Museum of American Art is so beneficial to Delawareans,” said Division of Historic and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin. “This next chapter further strengthens that partnership.”

The Kirk and Short Building, formerly known as the Todd House and the Kirk Printing Shop, was built in 1859 by Henry Todd, a prominent agriculturist who served as a state legislator and Town Commissioner of Dover. Both properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Dover Green Historic District as well as being part of the City of Dover Historic District.

“The acquisition of #15/21 The Green is a game changing opportunity for the Biggs Museum of American Art,” said Executive Director of the Biggs Museum Charlie Guerin. “With the Museum’s strengths in art collections from the 18th and 19th Centuries, the acquisition of historic properties of that same period, adjacent to the Museum on the Historic Dover Green, offers unique ongoing programmatic potential for our visitors. It will allow the Museum to return these historic properties to direct cultural and historic use, and to join the First State Heritage Park, The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the First State National Historical Park by expanding public interpretation and understanding of Delaware’s rich historic, cultural, political and artistic history. In the months to come, the Biggs Museum will be engaged in a Facilities Master Planning Process to evaluate #15/21 The Green, along with the existing Biggs facility to determine the best strategy to take advantage of this exciting acquisition.”

The Kirk and Short Building was most recently the administrative home to the Delaware Historical & Cultural Affairs (HCA), a division of the Department of State. The Building served as office space for HCA as no public programming function was served from the building.

The Biggs Museum of American Art is a private not-for-profit art museum and has been operating adjacent to the Kirk and Short Building at its location at 406 Federal Street, Dover, DE since its founding in 1993. Under a trust agreement executed in 1989, the State of Delaware and the Biggs Museum have been engaged in a successful public-private partnership.

HCA offices will move to state-owned property at Richardson Hall at 29 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901.

To learn more about the Biggs Museum of the Art, click here.


Historical Affairs Programs In September 2021

(DOVER, Del. — Sept. 1, 2021) — The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring a wide variety of programs during the month of September 2021 including, among others, a wetland walk and campfire on Sept. 18, and a program on Colonial Delaware crime and punishment on Sept. 23. Several of these programs will be conducted in front of a live audience, while others will be streamed live on the internet with registration required. See the full schedule below for details. All programs are free and open to the public.

Photo of the courtroom inside The Old State House.
Courtroom in The Old State House. Colonial Delaware crime and punishment will be explored in a virtual program streamed live from the site on Sept. 23, 2021.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs programs, September 2021

Thursday, Sept. 9
“The I’s Have It: Industry, Innovation, and Invention.” Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua featuring a day-long series of virtual activities from Lewes culminating with Keith Henley of the American Historical Theatre portraying George Washington Carver. Activities streamed live via Zoom and Facebook. Zoom registration required by going to the following: https://history.delaware.gov/23rd-annual-chautauqua/. 12–9 p.m. 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Thursday, Sept. 9
Smooth Sound Big Band. Concert featuring music from the big band era through classic rock and jazz. Part of Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua. Guests must bring their own chairs. Program also streamed live on Facebook. Stango Park, 114 Third St., Lewes. 6 p.m. 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Friday, Sept. 10
“The I’s Have It: Industry, Innovation, and Invention.” Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua featuring a day-long series of virtual activities from Lewes culminating with Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre portraying Thomas Edison. Activities streamed live via Zoom and Facebook. Zoom registration required by going to the following: https://history.delaware.gov/23rd-annual-chautauqua/. 12–9 p.m. 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Friday, Sept. 10
“Old-Time Radio Show.” Performed by the Possum Point Players Radio Theatre. Part of Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua. Guests must bring their own chairs. Program also streamed live on Facebook. Stango Park, 114 Third St., Lewes. 6 p.m. 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Saturday, Sept. 11
“The I’s Have It: Industry, Innovation, and Invention.” Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua featuring a day-long series of activities culminating with Daisy Sunshine of the American Historical Theatre portraying Madame C.J. Walker. In-person attendance welcome but visitors must bring their own chairs. Programs also streamed live on Facebook. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 12–6 p.m. 302-323-4453 or mailto:NCCHmuseum@delaware.gov.

Sunday, Sept. 12
“The I’s Have It: Industry, Innovation, and Invention.” Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua featuring a day-long series of activities culminating with Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre portraying Alexander Graham Bell. In-person attendance welcome but visitors must bring their own chairs. Programs also streamed live on Facebook. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. 12–6 p.m. 302-323-4453 or mailto:NCCHmuseum@delaware.gov.

Tuesdays, Sept. 21 and 28; Fridays, Sept. 17 and 24; Saturday, Sept. 25
Guided visitation to the African burial ground at the John Dickinson Plantation. Guided visitation leads participants to the African burial ground which is believed to be the final resting place for enslaved and free Black men, women and children who died on the plantation. Guests will engage with guides about the historical context and archaeological research of the site. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Programs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission free but reservations recommended by calling 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Sept. 18
Wetland walk and campfire. Staff-led walk on the St. Jones Reserve’s wetlands boardwalk followed by a sachet-making program and campfire at the John Dickinson Plantation. St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, and John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road Dover. 6–8:30 p.m. Reservations required by calling the St. Jones Reserve at 302-735-3412.

Thursday, Sept. 23
“Colonial Delaware Crime and Punishment.” Virtual program from The Old State House in which historic-site interpreter Francisco Rodriguez discusses Colonial Delaware criminal laws looking at how courts of the period dealt with crime and punishment, the role played by the General Assembly in the enactment of those laws, and the roots of Colonial criminal justice in the English legal system. Program streamed live via Zoom. Registration required and only available by going to the following: https://tinyurl.com/t63ua3bb. 1 p.m. For additional information, call 302-744-5054 or mailto:OSHmuseum@delaware.gov.

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, and special programs, 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 long-term calendar of division-sponsored events.

Picture of the Logo of the American Alliance of Museums

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-608-5326
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Delaware’s 23rd Annual Chautauqua From Sept. 9–12, 2021

(DOVER, Del. — Aug. 23, 2021) — American enterprise and ingenuity will be brought to life in Delaware’s 23rd annual Chautauqua, “The I’s Have It: Industry, Innovation, and Invention,” that will be livestreamed on the Internet from Sept. 9 through 12, 2021. Delaware’s Chautauqua programs are produced by the Zwaanendael Museum and the New Castle Court House Museum.

Banner for the 2021 Chautauqua

Each day of activities will be capped off with evening performances by actor-historians from the American Historical Theatre portraying, respectively, George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, Madame C.J. Walker and Alexander Graham Bell. For a complete listing of activities, go to https://history.delaware.gov/23rd-annual-chautauqua/.

Photo of Keith Henley as George Washington Carver
Keith Henley will portray George Washington Carver on Sept. 9, 2021.

In addition to being livestreamed, two programs in Lewes, Del. will feature live, in-person programs held in Stango Park, 114 Third St. — a concert by the Smooth Sound Big Band at 6 p.m. on Sept. on Sept. 9, and an Old-Time Radio Show presented by the Possum Point Players Radio Theatre at 6 p.m. on Sept. 10. Visitors attending these programs must bring their own chairs.

Photo of Bob Gleason as Thomas Edison
Bob Gleason will portray Thomas Edison on Sept. 10, 2021.

In addition to being livestreamed, all events on Sept. 11 and 12 will be presented in a tent located on The Green adjacent to The New Castle Court House Museum at 211 Delaware St in New Castle, Del. In-person attendance will be allowed for all New Castle programs. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own chairs as limited seating will be available.

Photo of Daisey Century as Madame C.J. Walker
Daisy Century will portray Madame C.J. Walker on the New Castle Green on Sept. 11, 2021.

Admission for all Chautauqua programs is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact the Zwaanendael Museum at 302-645-1148, or the New Castle Court House Museum at ncchmuseum@delaware.gov or 302-323-4453.

Photo of Bob Gleason as Alexander Graham Bell
Bob Gleason will portray Alexander Graham Bell on the New Castle Green on Sept. 12, 2021.

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 take on the personas of celebrated historical figures, educating and entertaining audiences as they bring the past to life. Modern Chautauquas have been presented annually in Delaware since 1999 featuring a wide variety of historical figures including Lucretia Mott; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Mark Twain; Woodrow Wilson; Teddy Roosevelt; 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.

“The I’s Have It: Industry, Innovation, and Invention” is co-sponsored by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael and New Castle Court House museums, and the New Castle Historical Society. Partial funding is provided by grants from the New Castle Arts Council, New Castle Community Partnership and Delaware Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Photo of the Delaware Humanities logo

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-608-5326
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Guided Visitation To The African Burial Ground At The John Dickinson Plantation

(DOVER, Del. — Aug. 23, 2021) — The John Dickinson Plantation is offering the opportunity to visit the African burial ground and engage with guides about the complex history of the site. The burial ground is believed to be the final resting place for enslaved and free Black men, women and children who died on the plantation. The guided visitations will reflect on the historical context and archaeological research surrounding this significant piece of Delaware’s shared history.

View, from the John Dickinson Plantation’s log’d dwelling, looking across agricultural fields to the location of the African burial ground.
View, from the John Dickinson Plantation’s log’d dwelling, looking across agricultural fields to the location of the African burial ground.

Guided visitations will be available on the following days at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.:

Sept. 17, 21, 24, 25 and 28
Oct. 1, 2, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 23, 26 and 29
Nov. 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19 and 20

The 1 ½ hour experience will include an orientation in the visitor center, a tour of the recreated log’d dwelling and a mile round-trip walk to the burial ground, which will include a moment of silence.

Due to limited capacity, reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 302-739-3277.

For the safety of guests and staff, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs reserves the right to cancel or postpone any event due to due to inclement and/or dangerous weather conditions.

A majority of the activities will take place outdoors. Participants must be prepared for adverse weather conditions and for travel, by foot, over uneven terrain including an unpaved road and an agricultural field. The wearing of appropriate clothing is advised including a hat, closed-toed shoes with good tread such as sneakers or boots, long pants and clothing that accounts for current weather conditions and the presence of insects. Visitors are also advised to bring their own insect repellant and sunscreen.

Photo showing the location of the African burial ground in a field at the John Dickinson Plantation.
Stakes mark the location of the African burial ground in a field at the John Dickinson Plantation.

The burial ground was found on March 9, 2021 on the property of the John Dickinson Plantation located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Del. Answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the burial ground are available on the John Dickinson Plantation website. Additional information can be found in the podcast, “African Americans on the John Dickinson Plantation.”

These guided visitations are conducted as part of the division’s mission to share the stories of the lives of the Black families who lived, labored and died on the plantation.

Photo of the log'd dwelling at the John Dickinson Plantation
Log’d dwelling at the John Dickinson Plantation. The building is a recreation of the type of housing inhabited by enslaved people at the plantation as well as tenants and indentured servants. The site’s mansion house is in the background.

 

The John Dickinson Plantation is administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-608-5326
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov