Secretary of State Announces Appointment of Director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs

Secretary of State Jeff Bullock on Monday announced that Suzanne Savery will lead the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs as its next director after Tim Slavin’s departure on June 30, 2022. Ms. Savery most recently served as the deputy director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and will assume the new role on July 1, 2022.

“Suzanne’s breadth of experience and knowledge uniquely positions her to lead the agency with a significant role in preserving and showcasing Delaware’s heritage,” said Secretary Bullock. “Our future depends so much on understanding and preserving our history—efforts that have been accomplished time again under Tim’s 17-year leadership. I’m confident that Suzanne’s talents will help push the Division into its next phase and I appreciate her commitment to taking this role.”

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, a division of the Delaware Department of State, 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 public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes the 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.

“I am proud and excited to step into this new role leading the division and staff as we work together to preserve and share Delaware’s history,” said Suzanne Savery. “I am also looking forward to working with staff and partners to explore opportunities to expand the stories of Delaware’s complicated history at our state museums and historic sites, in our collections, and documented through the work of the State Historic Preservation Office. From programs to capital projects, I am looking forward to HCA’s next chapter.”

Savery has served as the deputy director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since 2012, being involved in all aspects of the division from fiscal to capital and grounds, to collections and museum programming. With over 35 years of experience in the museum and preservation field, Savery has held several positions in various institutions including the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia; the Petersburg Museum in Petersburg, Virginia; and the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Savery holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Delaware and an M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Washington. She is also an alumnus of the Museum Management Institute, a program run by the American Federation of Arts and the J. Paul Gerry Trust designed to enhance the leadership of experienced museum professionals.


Department of State Launches Delaware Day Adventure from Dec. 3rd through 12th, 2021

Annually, December 7th has been proclaimed Delaware Day in honor of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787, thus making Delaware the first state in the nation. This year, the Department of State’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the Delaware Tourism Office have launched the Delaware Day Adventure, an engaging opportunity for visitors to explore Delaware historic sites.

From December 3rd through 12th, visitors can explore five Historical and Cultural Affairs locations, learn and explore about Delaware history and submit photos of their visits to the sites to win a prize.

The rules of the contest are as follows:

  • If visitors submit a photo for all five locations, they’ll be entered to win a grand prize including an overnight stay at a top Delaware hotel, dining in Delaware gift cards, and much more.
  • If visitors submit at least 1 photo, they’ll be entered to win a Delaware themed prize pack, including two historical books, a Dover paperweight, puzzle, and a poster of Delaware featuring historic sites.

Visitors will receive bonus entries if they share their photo(s) on social media using the hashtag #DelawareDay.

The locations along the Delaware Day Adventure include:

Each location will have a sign with a QR code posted from December 3rd through 12th to promote the adventure. All photos must be submitted to https://delawareday.delaware.gov/Delaware-day-adventure by December 12th, 2021. Winners will be notified by December 17th, 2021.

To learn more about the 2021 Delaware Day Adventure, visit https://delawareday.delaware.gov/Delaware-Day-adventure. For questions about the Adventure, please contact Daniel Citron, HCA Historic Sites Team Manager, at Museums@delaware.gov.

To learn more about the history of Delaware Day, visit https://delawareday.delaware.gov.


Whipping Post to be Removed from Public Display

GEORGETOWN, Del. – Tomorrow, July 1, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will remove a whipping post from public display on the grounds of the Old Sussex County Courthouse near the Circle in Georgetown.

Whipping post formerly displayed in Georgetown, Sussex County

The decision to remove the whipping post was made in response to calls from the community and in recognition of the violence and racial discrimination that its display signified to many Delawareans.

“Finally, Delaware is removing its last ‘Red Hannah,’ the whipping post, from the public’s view,” said Dr. Reba Hollingsworth, vice-chair of the Delaware Heritage Commission. “Such relics of the past should be placed in museums to be preserved and protected for those who want to remember the cruel, inhuman, barbarous acts perpetrated on our citizens.”

The post will be moved to a Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs (HCA) storage facility with other historical objects and artifacts, including a whipping post that once stood near The Green in Dover.

“It is appropriate for an item like this to be preserved in the state’s collections, so that future generations may view it and attempt to understand the full context of its historical significance,” said HCA Director Tim Slavin. “It’s quite another thing to allow a whipping post to remain in place along a busy public street – a cold, deadpan display that does not adequately account for the traumatic legacy it represents, and that still reverberates among communities of color in our state.”

HCA intends to work with historians, educators and leaders of the African American community in Delaware to explore plans for future display of this artifact in a museum setting, where it can be properly contextualized and interpreted.

This whipping post was located on the grounds of the Sussex Correctional Institution south of Georgetown. The facility was established in 1931, but the exact date this particular post was installed is not known. In 1992, the warden donated the post to HCA. The post was installed for public display at the state-owned Old Sussex County Courthouse site in September of 1993.

The history of corporal punishment in Delaware goes back to the earliest days of colonial settlement and included the use of the whipping post and the pillory in all three counties into the 20th century. These punishments were imposed for a variety of crimes throughout history and were disproportionately applied to persons of color. Those sentenced to the whipping post could be lashed up to 40 times for a single offense.

Dr. Hollingsworth, a lifelong Delaware educator, historian and civil rights advocate, witnessed a whipping in her childhood that still lives in her memory:

When I was a child in the late 1930s, I saw a man being whipped at the Kent County jail at the corner of New and Water Streets in Dover. On a Saturday morning, my dad, Solomon Ross, had driven to Dover from Milford to conduct some business. When he saw the crowd gathered at the front of the jail, he parked his car and he, my sister Vivienne and I joined the crowd around the wire mesh fence, which surrounded the jail yard.

There, we saw a man, naked to his waist, with his wrists shackled to an eight-foot post, being whipped by a man with a cat-o-nine-tails that had a short handle with nine rawhide thongs, which appeared to be about 18 inches long.

Even though the whipping occurred more than 80 years ago, I still remember the eerie silence that was pierced by the lashes of the whip. After each lash, the warden would loudly count each lash.

I don’t remember how many lashes the man received that day, but the incident is a vivid memory every time I pass the jail on New Street, even though Red Hannah has been removed. When I drive around the Circle in Georgetown, my childhood emotions fill my heart.

The last use of the whipping post in Delaware took place in 1952. Delaware was the last state to abolish the whipping post, removing the penalty from state law in 1972 through an act of the General Assembly signed by Gov. Russell Peterson.


Site of Purported African-American Cemetery Discovered

DOVER – Archaeologists working at a property near Frankford, Sussex County, have discovered 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 delineated 11 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 Civil War.)

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.”


Fort Christina Offers a Historical Destination This Summer

-Partner Site of the First State National Historical Park to Host Summer 2018 Events-

(DOVER, Del.—June 1, 2018)—Fort Christina National Historic Landmark, one of the partner sites of the First State National Historical Park, offers visitors access to one of the cornerstones of Delaware history and an expanded schedule of activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends. Building on last year’s success, Fort Christina is now staffed by guides who offer free interpretive tours to the public. Children can also earn Junior Ranger badges on the first Saturdays in June, July and August. This special heritage site marks the approximate location where a group of Swedish and Finnish colonists from the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip landed on a natural wharf of “blue rocks” in 1638. It was here that the first Swedish settlement in America began—the first permanent European settlement in Delaware.

Elisabeth Hohman of the Delaware Swedish Colonial Society during the ceremony at Fort Christina commemorating the landing of the Swedish colonial vessel, the Kalmar Nyckel, at the site in 1638. With Ms. Homan are (counterclockwise from lower left) her grandsons Kasper, Layton and Gunner Hohman and their grandfather, William Hohman, a volunteer for the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. The ceremony was part of the foundation’s annual “Festival of the Fort” which took place on April 22, 2018. In the background is the Swedish Tercentenary Monument which depicts the Kalmar Nyckel.
Elisabeth Hohman of the Delaware Swedish Colonial Society during the ceremony at Fort Christina commemorating the landing of the Swedish colonial vessel, the Kalmar Nyckel, at the site in 1638. With Ms. Homan are (counterclockwise from lower left) her grandsons Kasper, Layton and Gunner Hohman and their grandfather, William Hohman, a volunteer for the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. The ceremony was part of the foundation’s annual “Festival of the Fort” which took place on April 22, 2018. In the background is the Swedish Tercentenary Monument which depicts the Kalmar Nyckel.

Located at 1110 E. Seventh St. in Wilmington, Del., next to the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and Copeland Maritime Center, Fort Christina will be open between May 26 and Sept. 3 on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m. (closed on July 4). Site hours and activities are supported by a partnership between the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the First Sate National Historical Park and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. Admission is free to all visitors.

As part of its new 2018 summer hours, Fort Christina will host a series of “First Saturdays” celebrations open to the public. On June 2, “Celebrate Sweden” will mark the founding of the colony of New Sweden (now Delaware) and the anniversary of the site as a park. “Celebrate Pirates” at the Wilmington Pirate Festival will be hosted on Saturday, July 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with family-centered activities and ship tours at the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard and Fort Christina. The event promises to bring an exciting day of pirate-themed ship tours, demonstrations, games and crafts as well as live music, face painting, food and beverages. The event is open to the public with free admission and fees for some activities. August will bring “Celebrate National Park Service” on Saturday, Aug. 4 in recognition of the anniversary of the founding of the U.S. parks system. Educational tours and a variety of activities will be posted at www.KalmarNyckel.org as they are announced.

In 2016, Fort Christina re-opened as one of several statewide components of the First State National Historical Park and part of a larger effort to create a first class historical and cultural destination on Wilmington’s East Seventh Street peninsula. The goal is to integrate and develop the historic and cultural attractions of the Kalmar Nyckel shipyard campus, Fort Christina, Old Swedes Church and the Hendrickson House, along with the Christina River water taxi and other Riverfront attractions. Organizations working to make this dream a reality include the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, the National Park Service, Old Swedes Foundation and the Riverfront Development Corporation.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. 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 ownership of historic properties across the state including Fort Christina National Historic Landmark.

The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a non-profit educational organization with the mission of preserving and promoting the cultural and maritime heritage of Delaware and the Delaware Valley for the education and enrichment of all. The foundation is a volunteer-based organization that built, owns and operates the Kalmar Nyckel. The Tall Ship of Delaware is a present-day reproduction of the flagship from the 1638 expedition that founded the colony of New Sweden. Launched in 1997, Kalmar Nyckel serves as a floating classroom and an inspirational platform that offers people of all ages a variety of sea- and land-based recreational and educational experiences.

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Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov