|Gov. Jack Markell holding the resolution honoring Allen McLane. From left: historic site interpreters Martha Wagner, Chris Merrill and Thomas Pulmano; Reps. David Wilson, William Carson and Harvey Kenton; Markell; Rep. Darryl Scott (partially obscured); Sen. Bruce Ennis; historic site interpreter Tom Welch as Allen McLane; historic site interpreter Curt Stickel (obscured); Sen. Brian Bushweller and Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Photo by Patrick Jackson.
William Bayard McLane, relative of Allen McLane.
|In a ceremony held in Dover's Old State House on Aug. 15, 2011, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed Senate Joint Resolution # 7 which honors the memory and accomplishments of Maj. Allen McLane of Smyrna, a hero of the American Revolution. Officials in attendance included the resolution's sponsors, Sens. Brian Bushweller and Bruce Ennis, and Reps. William Carson and Darryl Scott; as well as Reps. David Wilson and Harvey Kenton. William Bayard McLane, a relative of Maj. McLane, traveled from Urbana, Illinois to attend the ceremony.
In his comments about Maj. McLane and the many contributions that he made to the birth and development of both Delaware and the United States, Markell noted that we must always "remember those who have gone before us who have made us what we are today." Referring to both McLane and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' historic site interpreter Tom Welch who has logged hundreds of hours of research on the noted revolutionary and who was instrumental in bringing McLane's accomplishments to the attention of the resolution's sponsors, Rep. Scott commented, "One person can truly make a big difference."
Allen McLane (1746-1829) of Duck Creek Hundred served in the House of Assembly from Kent County in 1785 and 1789. He participated in numerous battles during the American Revolutionary War and worked closely with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge. He was a member of the Delaware Convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. Later in life, he moved from Kent County to Wilmington, serving as collector of the customs for many years. He belonged to the Society of the Cincinnati, the Masonic order and was a member of the Methodist Church. His will began with the sentence, "I, Allen McLane, of the Borough of Wilmington, in the State of Delaware, Collector of the Customs of the United States for the Delaware District, and a friend and soldier of the American Revolution… ." His son, Louis McLane, became a U.S. representative, senator, secretary of state, secretary of the treasury and minister to England.
For additional information, go to In Depth: Allen McLane, 1746-1829 written by Tom Welch.
|Edward McWilliams, manager of the CARE Team.||
On July 6, 2011, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs director Tim Slavin announced the formation of the new Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team which was created to address goals of the division's strategic plan to increase public access to information about Delaware history and the substantial collection of historic materials owned by the state of Delaware. It represents the merger of two previous teams, the Exhibits and Curatorial teams, as well as the addition of two new functional areas.
Edward McWilliams, former manager and curator of the Exhibits Team, is the new CARE Team's manager. In addition, division employees Keith Minsinger and Travis Kirspel were promoted to curatorial positions within the team with Minsinger as curator of collections management and Kirspel as curator of digital assets. The team will be based at the division's curatorial facilities in Dover.
The responsibilities of the CARE Team include care and control of the state's collections of museum objects, archaeological artifacts, works of art and archival materials; administration of the Affiliates Program which creates partnerships with history- and heritage-based organizations throughout Delaware to develop joint programs and exhibits including the potential loaning of items from the state's collections; conducting and sponsoring a wide spectrum of archaeological and historical research and making significant portions of research materials available to the public, particularly through the use of electronic mediums; and the research and design of traditional gallery- and online-exhibits.
Edward McWilliams has been a division employee since 1996 when he began service as site supervisor of the John Dickinson Plantation. He served as curator of exhibits from 2001 until July 2011 and was named the Delaware Department of State's employee of the year in 2009. Born in Wilmington and currently residing in Laurel, Del., McWilliams holds a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of Delaware and a master's degree in arts management from the American University in Washington, D.C. From 1987 to 1996, he served as facility manager for the National Building Museum housed in the historic Pension Building in the nation's capital. McWilliams' efforts and assistance in providing historical information regarding a major renovation of the Pension Building resulted in the project being awarded the 1991 office building of the year government-category award from the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington/Building Owners and Managers Association International.
|Travis Kirspel||On July 20, 2011, Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, announced that Travis Kirspel had been promoted to the position of curator of digital assets, a new role within the agency's recently organized Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team. Kirspel had served as assistant site supervisor of the division's downtown Dover museums since January 2011.
In his new role, Kirspel will have lead responsibility for a new "point and click" initiative designed to increase division services delivered via the Internet. This new initiative includes the development of digital exhibits, creation of website components, establishment of a "Saving Delaware History" blog, construction of a "This Day in Delaware History" Facebook page presented in partnership with the Delaware Public Archives and development of a wide range of mobile applications and social media opportunities. He will also provide assistance in the digital cataloging of the state of Delaware's collection of museum objects, archaeological artifacts, works of art and archival materials; and in leading division efforts to achieve accreditation from the American Association of Museums.
Kirspel was born in Dover, N.J., but spent 16 years in the Atlanta, Ga. area before relocating to Delaware. A graduate of Oglethorpe University with degrees in history and psychology, he is currently pursuing graduate studies in historic preservation at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Kirspel has worked on community research and development for Atlanta's Buckhead Heritage Society and as a museum educator at the Atlanta History Center.
|Historic site interpreter Thomas Pulmano.||A free program designed to assist researchers in uncovering and sharing information about Delaware's involvement in the Underground Railroad will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011 at The Old State House located at 25 The Green in Dover, Del.
Sponsored by The Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the program, entitled "The Route to Your Roots: Bringing Delaware Underground Railroad History to Life," is the third of a four-part series of meetings that the coalition presents annually throughout the state. For additional information, call the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries at 302-744-5055.
The program will be presented in two parts. Part I features the true story of the manumission (granting of freedom) of two slave children—Ruth and Thomas Summers—which took place in 1797 in the Kent County Recorder of Deeds office, located in what is now called The Old State House (site of the Aug. 29 Route to Your Roots program). The children were manumitted by their own father, James Summers, a free African American, who had obtained them from their former owner. Historic site interpreter Thomas Pulmano, dressed in period clothing, will dramatize part of the story in order to show how research can go from dusty notes to a lively and informative experience for the public.
Part II will feature a "research jam" in which avocational researchers and budding genealogists will be given 10 minutes each to introduce themselves and their Underground Railroad (or closely related) research topic, followed by comments and advice provided by a panel of veteran Underground Railroad researchers and members of the audience. Persons interested in presenting their research topics at the "research jam" should reserve a spot on the agenda by contacting Debra Martin of the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware at 302-576-3107, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Beverly Laing of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs at 302-736-7437, email@example.com.
The Underground Railroad was a 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. The Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware is dedicated to sharing the profound stories of the people who escaped from slavery and those in Delaware who assisted them in seeking freedom. To this end, the coalition provides a forum for gathering and encouraging research, linking local, regional, national resources and sharing information with the public. The coalition also promotes the preservation of Underground Railroad sites so that future generations may experience the power of these genuine historic places.
|On Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, the state of Delaware's three downtown Dover museums will be presenting special programming as part of "First Saturday in the First State," a monthly series of events sponsored by the First State Heritage Park. Admission for all programs is free and open to the public. For additional information, call the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries at 302-744-5055.
At the Johnson Victrola Museum, located at 375 S. New St., the program "Nipper Leading the Pack" will tell the story of how a terrier named Nipper gazing into a phonograph became "His Master's Voice," one of the most recognizable trademarks in the world. Visitors can also explore the museum's extensive collection of Nipper paraphernalia. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In commemoration of the Sept. 3, 1777 announcement by Congress of the design and adoption of the official flag of the United States, The Old State House, located at 25 The Green, will be presenting "Signed, Sealed, Embroidered—It's Yours!—The Delaware State Flag," in which rarely seen items from the state's collections will aid visitors in exploring the symbolism and circumstances behind the adoption of the Delaware state flag in the very building where the deliberations took place and where the flag was first flown. Guests will also have an opportunity to learn flag etiquette, explore the nuances of Delaware's flag law and visit an exhibit on the Delaware state seal which pre-dates America's stars and stripes. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Finally, the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, located at 121 Duke of York St., will present "We Poor Devils," a series of specialized guided tours focusing on various aspects of "The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers' Stories," a display that explores the experiences of five of the more than 13,000 Delawareans who fought in the American Civil War. Tours will take place at 10 a.m., Noon and 2:30 p.m. The welcome center itself will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
|Old Dutch House, New Castle, Del. c. 1700.||The New Netherland Institute's 34th Annual New Netherland Seminar, "The Dutch on the Delaware: New Netherlands' South River," will be held on Sept. 16 and 17, 2011 at historic Buena Vista mansion located at 661 S. Dupont Highway in New Castle, Del.
The seminar will focus on the history of the South River (Delaware River) region of New Netherland which is often overshadowed by the North or Hudson River. Peter Stuyvesant, the last director-general of the colony of New Netherland, recognized that loss of control of the South River to the English had the potential to threaten the Netherlands' lucrative fur trade in North America. The seminar's nine speakers will explore various aspects of this history with special attention devoted to the major Dutch trading post, Fort Casimir (present-day New Castle), and its evolution to Nieuwer Amstel, a colony administered by the city of Amsterdam. To register for the seminar call 518-486-4815 or visit the New Netherland Institute website.
|Street scene in the Laurel Historic District.||On Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 at 7 p.m., the Laurel Public Library, located at 101 E. 4th St. in Laurel, Del., will host a special presentation on the National Register of Historic Places program and on state and federal historic-preservation tax-credit programs that are available to property owners to help offset costs associated with the rehabilitation and preservation of historic buildings in Delaware. The presentation will be conducted by Joan Larrivee, architectural historian, and Madeline Dunn, curator of education/historian, for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Property owners, realtors, and the public are invited to attend this one-hour presentation to learn about Laurel's history and efforts to preserve its local heritage. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-875-3184.
In 1988, the National Park Service recognized the importance of Laurel's historic district, containing 710 buildings, by listing it in the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district contains a variety of historical buildings that represent the evolution of this western Sussex County community.
|John Dickinson||On Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will host a workshop on transcribing and interpreting historical documents that can be used to illuminate the life of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States and "Penman of the Revolution."
Conducted by Madeline Dunn, curator of education for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and site supervisor Gloria Henry, the workshop will take place at the John Dickinson Plantation, the patriot's boyhood home and country estate, located at 340 Kitts Hummock Rd. in Dover, Del. Admission to this adults-only workshop is free and open to the public but, due to seating limitations, reservations must be made by calling 302-739-3277 no later than Sept. 23, 2011.
|On September 26 to 28 and November 14 to 16, 2011, a series of two-part workshops will be held at locations across Delaware to assist cultural organizations in developing disaster mitigation plans for historical items in their collections. The workshops are components of the "Connecting to Collections" program which provides training for small museums, libraries, archives, and historical societies to properly care for collections. Admission is free for participants from qualifying organizations.
"Connecting to Collections" is presented by the Delaware Division of Libraries and the Institute of Museum and Library Services in partnership with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Delaware Public Archives, the University of Delaware's Museum Studies Program, the Delaware Museum Association, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, the Delaware Disaster Assistance Team and LYRASIS.
|Murphy House||The Nemours Foundation has recently published advertisements seeking proposals to redevelop or relocate the Murphy House, a contributing element of the Nemours Historic District that is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The foundation plans to demolish the building if it is not redeveloped or relocated. Several individuals and organizations have been looking for alternatives to try to save the house including Preservation Delaware. The final deadline for proposals is October 15, 2011.
The text of the advertisement targeted to tax-exempt organizations is as follows:
HISTORIC FARMHOUSE AVAILABLEThe text of the advertisement targeted to individuals and organizations is as follows:
HISTORIC FARMHOUSE AVAILABLE to be MOVED
|Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs museums recorded 84,445 visits in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, 8.7% higher than the total number of visits during FY 2010. Special events and exhibits that contributed to the increased public interest include the following: