Division’s museums now open for self-guided tours by appointment More Info
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote, Delaware’s 22nd annual Chautauqua—“Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change”—will be presented virtually from the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes on Sept. 10, 11, 2020; and from the New Castle Court House Museum on Sept. 19 and 20, 2020.
NOTE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 Chautauqua programs will not be conducted in front of a live audience but will instead be streamed live via Zoom. Each of the Chautauqua’s programs is free and open to the first 100 registrants. A complete listing of activities and registration instructions are available by going to https://history.delaware.gov/22nd-annual-chautauqua/.
“Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change” will demonstrate the passionate efforts of suffragists striving toward one goal—earning the right for women to vote and participate equally in the nation’s political, social and economic life. Through theatrical enactments by both individuals and groups, lectures and musical performances, Chautauqua viewers will be immersed in the women’s suffrage movement and experience the impact that it had on Delaware and its people. Activities will be capped with performances by actor-historians from the American Historical Theatre portraying the noted suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt; and a concert by the Women’s Orchestra Project.
As a compliment to the 2020 Chautauqua, identical versions of the display “Nothing Less: Delaware, Women’s Suffrage, and Equal Rights” have been installed at the Zwaanendael Museum and the New Castle Court House Museum. Created by Delaware Humanities, the displays include two, three-sided columns featuring information and images on the suffrage movement in Delaware from 1848 onward. The displays will remain on view until the Chautauqua has been completed. Go to the following for information on visiting the museums in keeping with Gov. Carney’s Phase II reopening guidance issued in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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 (also known as 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 take on the personas of celebrated historical figures, educating and entertaining audiences as they bring the past to life. Modern Chautauquas have been presented annually in Delaware since 1999 featuring a wide variety of historical figures including Martin Luther King Jr.; Mark Twain; Woodrow Wilson; Teddy Roosevelt; Abraham Lincoln; Amelia Earhart; Dolley Madison; Eleanor Roosevelt; Edgar Allan Poe; the Lone Ranger; John Philip Sousa; and Delaware’s own Pvt. James Elbert, Maj. Allen McLane, F.O.C. Darley and Clifford Brown.
“Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change” is co-sponsored by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael and New Castle Court House museums, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and the New Castle Historical Society. Partial funding is provided by a grant from Delaware Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.