Visitors to the New Castle Court House Museum learn about Delaware’s colonial and state history, early European settlements, development of the systems of law and government, and the Delaware Underground Railroad right where those events happened. Group tours of 10 or more visitors must make reservation for museum tours in advance by emailing the site supervisor or calling 302-323-4453. There are no admission fees for tours.

Court House Museum Tours

Museum Tour: A guided tour of the court house featuring an overview of Delaware’s European settlers, colonial settlements, statehood, Delaware’s laws and government and Delaware’s place in the development of the nation.

Underground Railroad Tour: A guided tour of the Emeline’s Journey exhibit and background on Delaware’s Underground Railroad.

Walking Tours (Reservations Required)

New Castle Walking Tour: One-half to one-hour walk around the historic district noting important colonial and federal public buildings, historic churches and residences. (Students and adults – 30 or 60 minutes)

School Tours

Delaware History

Delaware 1st Tour

A program that presents “first facts” and significant events that first happened in New Castle and Delaware including early “technology.” Students participate in hands-on activities that review Delaware history from the Native Americans to the beginning of the United States.

Grade Level: K-3
Length of Time: 60 minutes
Standards:

History Standard One K-3a: Student will use clocks, calendars, schedules and written records to record or locate events in time.

History Standard Four Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in world, United States and Delaware history.

Essential Question: Why does when matter?

Where the State Began

An overview of Delaware Native Americans, European colonization, colonial settlements and hands-on exploration through art, objects, artifacts, historical documents and maps. There is an emphasis on the significance of the court house in early government and the establishment of the state boundaries.

Grade Level: 4-6
Length of Time: 60 minutes
Standards:

  • Geography Standard One 4-5a: Students will demonstrate development of mental maps of Delaware and of the United States which include the relative location and characteristics of major physical features, political divisions and human settlements.
    • Essential Question: Why does “where” matter?
    • Essential Question: To what extent are human settlements connected?
  • Geography Standard Three 4-5a: Students will understand the reasons for the locations of human activities and settlements and the routes connecting them in Delaware and the United States.
    • Essential Question: Why is a place founded where it is? Why might those reasons change?
  • History Standard Three 4-5a: Students will explain why historical accounts of the same events sometimes differ and will relate these explanations to the evidence presented or the point-of-view of the author.
    • Essential Question: How could there be different explanations of the same event in history?

How the Native Americans Lived

Using models, artifacts and replicas, students will learn about Native American life along the Delaware River before Europeans arrived. Tools, hunting weapons, clothing and shelters will be discussed during the session. Native life will be compared and contrasted to the way we live today.

After demonstrating how Lenapes made items from natural resources including shells, bones, sinew and stones, students will have hands-on activities including grinding corn.

Grade Level: 3-5
Length of Time: 60 minutes
Standards:

  • History Standard Four: Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in world, United States and Delaware history.

African American and Underground Railroad History

Follow the Drinking Gourd

This program introduces the Underground Railroad to young students using the book “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” Students use a felt board and figures to illustrate runaway slaves following the North Star. Students complete a star chart activity.

Grade Level: K-3
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Standards:

  • History Standard Four: Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in the world, United States and Delaware history.

Flight to Freedom on the Underground Railroad: Emeline’s Journey

An interactive overview of slavery and abolition in Delaware told through the compelling story of enslaved Emeline Hawkins and her family, and their escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Grade Level: 4-12
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Standards:

  • History Standard One 4-5a: Students will study historical events and persons within a given time-frame in order to create a chronology and identify related cause and effect factors.
    • Essential Question: To what extent does one event always lead to another event?
  • History Standard Three 4-5a: Students will explain why historical accounts of the same events sometimes differ and will relate this explanation to the evidence presented or the point-of-view of the author.
    • Essential Question: How could there be different explanations of the same event in history?
  • History Standard One 6-8a: Students will examine historical materials relating to a particular region, society or theme; analyze change over time; and make logical inferences concerning cause and effect.
    • Essential Question: Is change inevitable?
    • Essential Question: To what extent does the past predict the future?
    • Essential Question: What’s the evidence for my conclusions?
  • History Standard One 9-12a: Students will analyze historical materials to trace the development of an idea or trend across space or over a prolonged period of time in order to explain patterns of historical continuity and change.
    • Essential Question: Were contemporary issues also problematic for past societies? Why are those issues difficult? Is there a pattern of continuity or change?
    • Essential Question: To what extent can we learn from studying historical responses to societal problems?
  • History Standard Four: Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in world, United States and Delaware history.

What Would You Take With You on the Underground Railroad?

Interactive Underground Railroad program for students that can accompany the “Emeline’s Journey” tour or stand alone. Student choose item they would take with them if they were a runaway enslaved person.

Students have a variety of items from faux food, clothing, household goods, knives, Bible, toys, rope, cloth, tools and others representing items an enslaved person may own or have at their home all contained in a large basket. Each student chooses one item he/she thinks would be important to take or necessary for survival if they were running away. Students and guide discuss why they picked the item and its importance.

Law and Government

Rights, Rules and Privileges

This program explores the differences between rights, rules and privileges and the need for government and laws. Students have to determine if something is a right, a rule or a privilege.

Grade Level: 4-6
Length of Time: 30 minutes
Standards:

  • Civics Standard Three 4-6a: Students will understand that American citizens have distinct responsibilities (such as voting), rights (such as free speech and freedom of religion), and privileges (such as driving).
    • Essential Question: What is the nature of a privilege? What do you have to do to earn or lose a privilege?
    • Essential Question: What is the relationship between my rights and my responsibilities?
  • Civics Standard Three 4-6a:
    • Essential Question: Why are rights in the Bill of Rights important to American citizens?
    • Essential Question: To what extent are the rights of American citizens limited?
    • Essential Question: In what ways is the Bill of Rights applied in everyday life?

The 1787 Manslaughter Trial of William White

Students role-play an historic adaptation of the Delaware manslaughter trial of William White. After hearing the witnesses, the jury will have to determine the guilt or innocence of Mr. White remembering that they do not have the benefits of modern forensics.

Grade Level: 4-6
Length of Time: 40 minutes
Standards:

  • Civics Standard Two 4-5a: Students will understand that a society based on the ideals of individual liberty requires a commitment in the part of its citizens to the principles of civic responsibility and personal civility.
    • Essential Question: What makes a good citizen? How do I know if I am one? What happens if enough people are not good citizens?
  • History Standard Three 4-5a: Students will explain why historical accounts of the same events sometimes differ and will relate this explanation to the evidence presented or the point-of-view of the author.
    • Essential Question: How could there be different explanations of the same event in history?
  • History Standard Three 6-8a: Students will compare different historians’ descriptions of the same societies in order to examine how the choice of questions and use of sources may effect their conclusions.
    • Essential Question: Why might historians disagree about the same historical event?
    • Essential Question: To what extent does history change?
  • History Standard Four: Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in the world, United States and Delaware history.

The 1848 Federal Trial of Thomas Garrett

Students role-play the 1848 federal trial of Thomas Garrett, accused of helping the Hawkins family escape slavery on the Underground Railroad.

Grade Level: 7-12
Length of Time: 40 minutes
Standards:

  • Civics Standard Three 6-8a: Students will understand that civil rights secure political freedom while property rights secure economic freedom and that both are essential protections for United States citizens.
    • Essential Question: In what ways are citizens protected from the government? From each other?
    • Essential Question: To what extent do property rights define an individual’s freedom?
  • History Standard Four: Students will develop historical knowledge of major events and phenomena in world, United States and Delaware history.