The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is bidding farewell to historian Beverly Laing who will retire from the agency on Dec. 1, 2018 after 28 years of service.
A native of Baltimore, Laing first began working for the division in 1990 as a historic-site interpreter and researcher at The Old State House and at the former Delaware State Visitor Center. During her years of service, she earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Wesley College in Dover, Del., and a master’s degree in history from Washington College in Chestertown, Md. Those degrees came in handy for the wide variety of positions she held including supervisor of the division’s downtown Dover museums, manager of the Site Management Team, and finally, as a historian and researcher working in the State Historic Preservation Office.
As a researcher, Laing was most proud of her work in investigating Delaware’s African-American history including the stories of the Underground Railroad conductor Samuel Burris, and the Summers family including James Summers, a free-black father who bought the freedom of his own children.
Laing also made a big impact with her work on the restoration of The Old State House that took place between 2005 and 2007, her service as part of the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware, her efforts in partnership with the Delaware Tourism Office and her 16 years of service as a member of the Kent County Tourism Board which named her its Person of the Year in 2007.
Commenting on her years with the division, Laing noted that she was grateful for the “opportunity to work with so many talented people in helping to tell Delaware’s story.” She added that, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with countless visitors to the division’s museums including thousands of school children. If only a few of those children came away saying that history was fun, then I feel like I did a good job.”
Upon retirement, Laing is looking forward to continuing historical and ancestral research and spending time with Gary, her husband of 46 years, and her three grown children and eight grandchildren.