Division’s museums now open for self-guided tours by appointment More Info
These online resources shine a spotlight on items from Delaware’s official state collections of historical objects, art and artifacts.
This online exhibit features a collection of World War I propaganda posters that were artfully designed to encourage Americans to support and participate in the Great War. The vibrant colors and details utilized on each poster were meant to convey the American patriotic spirit. Because the posters are fragile and light sensitive, they require specialized handling and storage to ensure the best museum standard of care. This fragility limits visitors and researchers from being able to view these unframed works of art.
In the fall of 2004, a beach replenishment project pumped tons of sand onto Lewes Beach. What no one knew at the time was that this sand was peppered with artifacts from a previously unknown shipwreck. Since then, thousands of artifacts have been found by beachcombers and donated to the State of Delaware for study.
Searching for the source of these artifacts, an underwater archaeological investigation located the shipwreck site in 2005, while a second investigation in 2006 recovered a wide range of artifacts representing the ship’s cargo.
Historical data, archaeological evidence, and the geographic location of the shipwreck suggest that the vessel is a British merchant ship that ran aground near present-day Roosevelt Inlet in 1774.
The State of Delaware is grateful to all who assisted in the investigation of the shipwreck including archaeologists, historians, volunteers, and the many people who donated artifacts found on Lewes Beach.
World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis
Series of historical vignettes accompanied by photographs taken by Dover, Del. native William D. Willis during World War II.
These unique online exhibits use multimedia storytelling to forge a deeper connection to the subject matter.
Follow the journey of Emeline Hawkins an enslaved woman who lived in the town of Ingleside, Queen Anne’s county, Maryland, with her husband, Sam Hawkins, a free man, and their six children. Her eldest sons, Chester and Samuel, were the property of Charles W. Glanding. Her four youngest children, ages 18 months to 10 years, were the alleged property of Elizabeth Turner. Sam attempted to legally purchase Emeline’s freedom, but was unsuccessful. Follow their journey to freedom.
Explore the life of Delaware’s John Dickinson and the publication of his famous essays that described Colonial American grievances with the British government, earning him the nickname “Penman of the Revolution.”
Historic Sites and Museums
Visit the “birthplace” of the Delaware State. The Court House was built in 1732 and served as Delaware’s first court and capitol. See where Revolutionary patriots and Delaware’s signers of the Declaration of Independence worked. Travel along with stories of the Underground Railroad.
Learn more about the Old State House in the city of Dover, Delaware. Built in 1791, this building served as the capitol from its opening until 1933. Hear the sagas of various citizens of the First State.
Come see where it all happened.
Landmarks and Architecture of Delaware
Today the New Castle Green provides both residents and visitors with an important sense of open space, in a heavily populated area. The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs maintains the trees on The Green and has done so since 1967. In 1989 the New Castle Advisory Committee was established to provide additional opportunities for community involvement regarding landscape issues affecting The Green. In 2000 an Urban Forestry Plan was adopted for this “urban forest.” The plan details the guidelines used when making decisions regarding this landscape.
Until recently, capturing a likeness (in a painting or photograph) was a very expensive and time-consuming form of art. Silhouettes were an inexpensive and relatively fast way to have a likeness done. Street artists could create a silhouette on the spot because it did not require expensive or heavy equipment and processing chemicals. You could walk through your town and get your silhouette done on the way to the park! All that was needed was a pencil, paper, scissors, and glue!
We have provided a couple examples of silhouettes from our collection for inspiration. Simply freehand an item or a person from memory or create a silhouette on the wall by shining a light against the subject. It could be yourself, a family member, a family pet, or your favorite toy! Trace a basic outline onto a solid, colored piece of paper, cut it out, and glue it onto a white or light-colored background. We told you it would be easy! Be sure to tag @delawarehistory on Instagram to share your creations.
Which room has the most light in your house? Does it help with your silhouette?
When making your silhouette, see how the light changes your silhouette shape in your house depending on:
Why do you think silhouettes were so popular in the past?
What do we do today instead of silhouettes?
How many family members will you make into silhouettes? Can you put them all together on one large poster board?
The collections of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs contain many primary source documents that shed light on our collective history. Below we have provided a sampling of documents with associated questions that will test your reading comprehension and research skills. We have provided answers to the questions, but some require open-ended research. Have fun diving into the past with us!
Enjoy an online jigsaw puzzle featuring objects from our collection!
Choose a puzzle below and select your difficulty (number of pieces) after the puzzle opens.
What’s blue and white and distinctly Dutch? Delftware!
This ceramic, named for the Delft region in the Netherlands, was created in the 1600’s as an alternative to the more expensive Chinese porcelain. Although it is often characterized by its blue and white color, there were some multi-colored versions, known as poly-chrome delft.
We have several beautiful delft items on display here at the museum as well as a large collection of delft pieces which wash out of the Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck site and onto our Lewes beaches, proving that when that ship sank (late 1700’s to early 1800’s), delft was a hot commodity.
Why not try making your own delftware at home? We cut out a circle of white paper to make our very own delft “plate”, using a blue colored pencil for our design. You could use paint, markers, pencils, crayons, whatever you like!
When people think of tulips today, many picture the beautiful fields of different colored tulips scattered across the Dutch countryside. However, the story of the tulip in Dutch history is not all so beautiful, as the flower was once the centerpiece of a drastic market fallout dubbed “TulipoMania”.
While the tulip began with humble origins nestled in the valleys of the Tien Shen Mountains in Central Asia, their reputation steadily grew due to its vibrant colors and complex “broken” patterns. By the 11th century the flowers had found their way into the gardens of nobles across Persia and many Islamic city states, and continued spreading through the Middle East and into the Balkans of Eastern Europe thanks to the rising Ottoman Empire a few centuries later.
The flowers quickly passed on throughout Europe, and the first reference of the tulip in Dutch history was recorded in the late 16th century, by an esteemed Dutch botanist, Carolus Clusius. The tulip’s arrival in the Netherlands coincided with the country’s rise into a golden era of newfound independence, wealth, and attention as an international hub of trade.
In just a few decades Dutch interest in tulips had fully blossomed, and with the wealth of the nation drastically increasing, the tulip became a symbol of prosperity, power and high society. The interest in the flower quickly soared out of control in the public markets and soon some speculators were selling bulb contracts for nearly 5,000 florins, roughly equivalent to around $100,000 U.S. dollars today.
The market on tulip bulbs during this era, infamously dubbed “Tulipomania”, was spurred by the same qualities of the flower that first drove its attention: the vibrant and varying colors of the flowers and the color patterns on different strains of bulbs. This mania was short lived, as the market crashed just a few weeks after hitting this peak. However, it helped cement the place of the tulip in Netherlands’ history. Today the flowers coat numerous country sides across the nation, and in the height of the spring bloom many cities hold massive tulip festivals which draw in visitors from across the world.
Print or make your own tulip petal stencils and design your own Tulips.
The Zwaanendael Museum was built to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the first European settlement in Delaware. The settlement was founded by the Dutch and called Zwaanendael, or Valley of the Swans. Because of the Dutch connection the architects who designed this building wanted it to look like a building you might see in the Netherlands and included many symbols and references to the early settlement and to Dutch culture.
Looking for some historical inspiration in the kitchen? We have combed the cookbooks in our collection to find recipes, both delicious and adventurous, for all experience levels. Just as tastes have changed, so have methods of measuring. A tip for would-be chefs: you may find outdated terms and measurements in these recipes. A quick internet search will point you in the right direction.
From the kitchen of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, please enjoy the recipes below. You can also download a blank version of our recipe card here.
Print and enjoy these activity pages!