“An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” exhibit to close on Dec. 7, 2014

(Dover, Del.—Nov. 13, 2014)—Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 marks the last chance for visitors to enjoy the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware.” The exhibit, on display at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dover, Del., has been open since Oct. 16, 2013. Operating hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.
Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.

Planned and created by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Management Organization and the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware, the exhibit explores the First State’s role in the pre-Civil War network of secret routes and safe houses used by black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. Focusing on two Delawareans who played important roles in this illegal and clandestine enterprise—Samuel D. Burris and Thomas Garrett—the exhibit explores the actions of a number of brave people who made principled decisions to follow their consciences rather than what they viewed as the unjust laws of the state and nation.

About Samuel D. Burris …
Born on Oct. 16, 1813 in the Willow Grove area near Dover, Del., Samuel D. Burris was the educated son of George Burris, a free-black man. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Samuel D. Burris is known to have successfully led several enslaved people from Maryland and Delaware to freedom. After an 1847 attempt to bring a young woman, Maria Matthews, out of Kent County, Del. to Pennsylvania, Burris was found guilty of aiding in the escape of a slave and was fined, sentenced to prison and thereafter sentenced to be sold into slavery. After being “purchased” for $500 by Wilmington abolitionist, Isaac S. Flint, he was taken to Philadelphia where he was reunited with his wife, children and friends. He continued to work for the abolitionist cause until his death in San Francisco in 1863.

About Thomas Garrett …
Thomas Garrett was born on Aug. 21, 1789 to a prominent Quaker family in Upper Darby, Pa. After moving to Wilmington, Del. where he was an iron merchant, Garrett operated as the stationmaster on the last stop of the Underground Railroad in Delaware, collaborating with a number of noted conductors including Harriet Tubman and Samuel D. Burris. He is credited with helping over 2,500 fugitive slaves escape to freedom. In 1848, Garrett was tried in Federal District Court meeting at the New Castle Court House under the jurisdiction of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. After being convicted of trespass and debt for aiding and abetting in the escape of runaway-slaves, Garrett was fined several thousand dollars resulting in his financial ruin. Nonetheless, he continued to work for the abolitionist cause. He died in Wilmington in 1871.

Thomas Garrett
Thomas Garrett

 

 


Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs honored with prestigious History in Progress Award

(DOVER, Del.—Oct. 15, 2014)—The American Association for State and Local History has presented a prestigious History in Progress Award to the Delaware Historical Society and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs for their collaborative exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.” The award, a component of the association’s Leadership in History Awards program, is presented for projects that are highly inspirational; exhibit exceptional scholarship; and/or are exceedingly entrepreneurial in terms of funding, partnerships or collaborations, creative problem-solving or unusual project design, and inclusiveness. Only four projects in the entire nation were honored with the award in 2014.

Presentation of the History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.” From left are Bob Beatty, interim president and chief executive officer of the American Association for State and Local History; Constance J. Cooper, chief curator of the Delaware Historical Society; Marian Carpenter, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs curator of collections management; and Lynne Ireland, deputy director of the Nebraska State Historical Society and immediate-past chairperson of the American Association for State and Local History.
Presentation of the History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.” From left are Bob Beatty, interim president and chief executive officer of the American Association for State and Local History; Constance J. Cooper, chief curator of the Delaware Historical Society; Marian Carpenter, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs curator of collections management; and Lynne Ireland, deputy director of the Nebraska State Historical Society and immediate-past chairperson of the American Association for State and Local History.

“Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980” explored the faith experiences of Delaware’s black community and its contributions to the development of religion in the United States including a commemoration of the bicentennial of the African Union Methodist tradition and the August Quarterly, the nation’s oldest African-American religious festival.

Section of the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”
Section of the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”

On-display from Sept. 27, 2013 to June 14, 2014 at the Delaware History Museum, a unit of the Delaware Historical Society located at 504 N. Market St. in Wilmington, Del., the exhibit was created through a partnership between the society’s curatorial staff, which researched and wrote the exhibit narrative and organized loans of exhibited objects; and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team which designed, fabricated and installed the exhibit. Go to the following to view the exhibit online.

History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”
History in Progress Award for the exhibit “Forging Faith, Building Freedom: African American Faith Experiences in Delaware, 1800-1980.”

The American Association for State and Local History initiated the Leadership in History Awards program in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation of state and local history throughout America. In 2014, the association conferred 77 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books and organizations.

In addition to the History in Progress award, the “Forging Faith” exhibit was honored with an Award of Merit which recognizes excellence in history programs, projects and people when compared with similar activities nationwide. The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs was also the recipient of an Award of Merit for the “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World,” a multi-dimensional interpretive program on the British warship that sank off the coast of Delaware in the late 18th century.

Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull as part of program “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.”
Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull as part of program “The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.”

In addition to its three Leadership in History awards, the division was also recognized as a graduate of the association’s StEPs program (Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations) which helps small- and mid-sized history museums assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future. All of the honors noted above were conferred during the American Association for State and Local History’s awards banquet which took place in St. Paul, Minn. on Sept. 19, 2014. Constance J. Cooper, chief curator of the Delaware Historical Society, and Marian Carpenter, the division’s curator of collections management, accepted honors on behalf of their respective organizations.

-End-

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


African American History Month programs at the museums of the state of Delaware during February 2014

Willis Phelps will portray Private James H. Elbert of the United States Colored Troops on Feb. 1 at Dover’s Old State House.Following is a listing of two exhibits and 11 special programs that will be presented at the museums of the state of Delaware during February 2014 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. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Highlights of the month include “Ready to Fight for Freedom: James H. Elbert,” a living-history performance in which Willis Phelps portrays Private James H. Elbert, C Company, 8th United States Colored Troops, who fought in the American Civil War. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and talk with Elbert who will remain in character throughout his appearance. The program will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at The Old State House located at 25 The Green, in Dover.

Each Saturday during the month, the John Dickinson Plantation, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, will be offering special tours exploring the lives of African Americans who lived in slavery and servitude at the home of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States and “Penman of the Revolution.”

Finally, on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Old State House will present the Second Annual Samuel D. Burris Workshop exploring the latest research on Burris and his work as an Underground Railroad conductor in Delaware.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the six museums of the state of Delaware—the New Castle Court House Museum, the John Dickinson Plantation, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, The Old State House, the Johnson Victrola Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum—tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through displays, exhibits and special programs, the museums explore how the state’s distinctive physical environment, in combination with the people who came to live there, gave Delaware an identity that is different from any other place.

African American History Month programs at the museums of the state of Delaware, February 2014

 Thru July 31, 2014
An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware.” Exhibit explores the First State’s role in the Underground Railroad by showcasing Thomas Garrett and Samuel D. Burris and the actions they took in following their consciences rather than the law. Presented in partnership with the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30-4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Ongoing
Emeline Hawkins: Her Journey From Slavery to Freedom on the Underground Railroad.” Exhibit chronicles the compelling story of Emeline Hawkins and her family and their 1845 odyssey on the Underground Railroad from slavery in Maryland, through Delaware to freedom in Pennsylvania. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
“An Illegal Activity.” Utilizing the exhibit “An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware” as a backdrop, guided tours will explore Delaware’s crucial role in the Underground Railroad and on two Delaware leaders who aided in this “freedom enterprise.” Presented in conjunction with First Saturday in the First State. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, Delaware Public Archives building, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
“A World Apart.” African American History Month tours. Learn about Cato and Pompey and their world of servitude to John and Samuel Dickinson. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
“Ready to Fight for Freedom: James H. Elbert.” Living-history interpreter Willis Phelps portrays Civil War Private James H. Elbert, C Company, 8th United States Colored Troops. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and talk with Elbert who will remain in character throughout his appearance. Presented in conjunction with First Saturday in the First State. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
“Remembering Rosedale Beach.” Program by Tamara Jubilee-Shaw exploring the history of Rosedale Beach near Millsboro, a popular waterfront resort run by, and for, people of color that featured noted performers Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Aretha Franklin, among many others. Presented in conjunction with First Saturday in the First State. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
“The Dover Eight: A Story of the Underground Railroad.” Sylvester Woolford of Newark, Del. will present a lecture on the history of the Underground Railroad in the First State. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 1:30–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014
“A World Apart.” African American History Month tours. Learn about Dinah and her family from enslavement to freedom. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014
“From Africa to the Americas Via Music, Song, Dance and Stories.” Program by Mr. Kamau Ngom highlights the similarities between traditional African culture and African-influenced culture in the Americas. Audience participation is a must in this village-oriented presentation. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014
Second Annual Samuel D. Burris Workshop. Program explores the latest findings on Delaware’s Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris. Activities begin at the Old State House and conclude at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Workshop 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014
“Stories of Runaway Slaves.” African American History Month tours. Learn about three runaway slaves and how they escaped from St. Jones Neck. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014
“A World Apart.” African American History Month tours. Learn about Violet Brown and read her recollections. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014
“The Remarkable Solomon and Thamar Bayley.” Lecture by Dr. Peter Dalleo on the true early-19th-century story of Solomon Bayley and his wife Thamar during their journey from enslavement to freedom on the Delmarva Peninsula and in Africa. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Program at 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.


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