“America Takes Flight”: Chautauqua tent show in Lewes, Del., June 9–13, 2013

Daisy Century will portray Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot, on June 12.Mankind’s age-old quest to understand the air and space and to travel through them will be brought to life during Delaware’s 15th annual Chautauqua tent show, “America Takes Flight,” that will take place at a variety of downtown Lewes, Del. locations from June 9–13, 2013. Go to the following for a complete schedule of events. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-1148 or visit the Zwaanendael Museum on the Web.

A unique mixture of education and entertainment, Lewes’ Chautauqua will be held under a large tent and will feature re-enactors who take on the personas of celebrated historical figures, educating and entertaining audiences as they bring the past to life. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the featured characters who will include Amelia Earhart; the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei; Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot; and Charles Lindbergh.

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 (or colloquially, 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 portray celebrated historical figures, speaking and interacting with audiences, often in the setting of a large outdoor tent. Modern Chautauquas have been presented annually in Delaware since 1999 featuring a wide variety of historical figures including John Philip Sousa, the Lone Ranger, Edgar Allan Poe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dolley Madison, and Delaware’s own Clifford Brown and Caesar Rodney. In 2013, Delaware’s Chautauqua tent show is being co-sponsored by the Lewes Historical Society, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

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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


Summer 2013 lecture/tours of the hull of the DeBraak, a shipwrecked 18th-century British warship

Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.Beginning on June 3, 2013 and continuing through Oct. 14, 2013, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will offer regularly scheduled Monday lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798.

 Lecture/tours, which are limited to 10 visitors per program, will take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the following Mondays during 2013: June 3, 17 and 24; July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; Aug. 5, 12, 19 and 26; Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Oct. 7 and 14. (No programs will take place on June 10 or Sept. 2.)

 All lecture/tours begin at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, DE 19958, where a lecture on the ship will be presented in conjunction with “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World,” an exhibit that has been on display at the museum since Dec. 1, 2012. The exhibit tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late 18th century. Ticket holders will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a curator-led tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.

 Nonrefundable tickets for the lecture/tours are $10 per person (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) and are available through the Shop Delaware website (http://shop.delaware.gov/). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

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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


Delaware releases historic preservation plan for 2013–2017

Photo of Delaware Historic Preservation Plan 2013-2017 coverThe Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has recently released “Preserving Our Past for a Better Future: Delaware’s Historic Preservation Plan, 2013–2017.” The plan provides all Delawareans who are passionate about historic preservation with a framework for effective decision-making, for coordinating statewide preservation activities and for communicating statewide preservation policy, goals and values to the preservation constituency, decision-makers and interested parties across the state. Go to the following to read the full plan. Printed copies are available on request.

 

 

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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


Markell Confers Governor’s Heritage Award upon the Honorable William T. Quillen

Governor Jack Markell presented the Governor’s Heritage Award to former Delaware Supreme Court Justice and Secretary of State William T. Quillen at a ceremony on Wednesday at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover. The Governor’s Heritage Award is given to those Delawareans who have contributed significantly to the recognition, preservation, and celebration of Delaware’s heritage. Quillen is the ninth person to receive the distinction.

While serving as Secretary of State from 1993-1994, Quillen was the driving force behind the planning of a new Public Archives building, which holds more than 95,000 cubic feet of government records and historical documents.

“When he became Secretary of State, Bill took a special interest in the Archives and what it needed to grow and modernize,” said Governor Markell. “He was determined to help it be the top-notch facility he and others knew it could be.”

On a more local level, Quillen has long been a champion for the preservation and celebration of New Castle’s historic legacy, including as a former Vice President and Director of the New Castle Historical Society.

In addition to his service as Delaware’s Secretary of State, Quillen has held the distinguished posts of Superior Court Judge, Chancellor of the Court of Chancery, and Supreme Court Justice. He has also worked for many years in private law practice, and is currently Of Counsel at the Wilmington office of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. He has taught law at Widener University and has written about the history of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, in addition to other academic publications.

Quillen received his BA from Williams College, his LL.B. from Harvard Law School and his LL.M. from University of Virginia School of Law. He was joined at Wednesday’s ceremony by members of his family, as well as current and past colleagues, including Superior Court Resident Judge Richard Cooch, former Secretaries of State Harriet Smith Windsor and Edward J. Freel, and current Chief Deputy Secretary of State Richard Geisenberger.

Photos from this event

Video excerpt of Governor Markell’s remarks


Newark Resident Donates Hancock Letter to the Delaware Public Archives

A letter that John Hancock wrote to the Delaware General Assembly in 1776 has been donated to the Delaware Public Archives by Newark resident Robert Barnes who found it in one of the books he purchased at an auction.

Hancock, who was then the President of the Continental Congress, wrote to request that Delaware send more men and supplies before the Battle at Princeton.

Although the document was in pieces, Barnes spotted the familiar signature of John Hancock. As a frequent researcher at the Delaware Public Archives, Barnes contacted the Archives for advice once he realized he had an important part of Delaware history.

“We thank Mr. Barnes for having contacted us after he found the letter,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. “We will now be able to share this newly-acquired piece of Delaware history with the public.”

The letter, dated December 30, 1776,  was written by Hancock to the Delaware General Assembly during the critical days following Washington’s victory at Trenton. Hancock was requesting Delaware to send more men and supplies because of the “Strength and Progress of the Enemy.” On the reverse side of the letter, Hancock acknowledged the Trenton victory by noting: “I congratulate you on the success of General Washington in the Jerseys.”

“The letter will become a permanent part of our Legislative Papers collection, and we are making plans to make it accessible online in the near future.” said State Archivist and Delaware Public Archives Director Stephen Marz.

“The letter is now where it belongs,” said Barnes.

The document was sent to the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia where it underwent preservation, in preparation for its display at the Public Archives.

The Delaware Public Archives is one of the oldest public archives programs in the country. DPA holds more than 95,000 cubic feet of government records and historical documents. One of the missions of the Archives is to ensure access to public records for present and future generations of Delawareans.