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The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs was recently notified that the John Dickinson Plantation has been accepted as a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a worldwide network of historic places and memory initiatives dedicated to remembering past struggles for justice and addressing the contemporary legacies of those struggles. Go to the following to see the plantation’s profile on the coalition website.
Located at 340 Kitts Hummock Road in Dover, Del. and administered as a museum by the division, the plantation was the boyhood home of John Dickinson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Dickinson wrote eloquently about freedom and liberty while, at the same time, holding fellow human beings in bondage. The museum tells the stories of the Dickinson family, tenant farmers, indentured servants, and the free and enslaved Black men, women and children who lived, worked and died on the plantation.
A Site of Conscience is a place of memory — a museum, historic site, memorial or memory initiative — that confronts both the history of what happened there and the contemporary legacy of that history. Sites of Conscience begin by facing all aspects of their history whether they be stories of great cruelty, great courage or everyday life. They then go a step further, activating the historical perspective with dynamic public dialogue that makes connections between the past and related contemporary human-rights issues.
In joining the coalition, the plantation reaffirmed its commitment to engaging with visitors about the uncomfortable truths, differing views and painful narratives associated with the institution of slavery both at the site and in the early history of the United States.
Membership in the coalition compliments the plantation’s master plan which is currently in the process of being implemented. The plan calls for creating an area of reflection, opening more sections of the property to public access, increasing the areas of interpretation through public archaeology programs, adding paths through the cultural landscape, utilizing agricultural fields for the demonstration of 18th century farming techniques and crops, and, most significantly, constructing a new visitor center with a large exhibit space.