Posts Tagged ‘Black and White’


The Delaplane (not just a Newark area street name)

March 2, 2010

Delaplane, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Robie Seidlinger, engineer and builder sits at the controls of Delaware’s first aeroplane. This was taken at the Horse Show Park, now a fashionable neighborhood known as Wawaset Park in Wilmington.

(The following information was abridged and adopted from George J. Frebert, Delaware Aviation History (Dover, DE, 1998)
One hundred years ago the Wilmington Aero Club (WAC) was incorporated. The organizers included David Snellenberg, Robie Seidelinger, George W. Crowe and John Montgomery. They contributed $1000 and sold shares in their enterprise which they hoped would allow them to develop a world-renowned aviation experimental group. The long range plan included highly publicized air-shows and innovation. At the time, they knew they could purchase a Wright (you guessed it- the Wright brothers) Flyer for $5,000 but instead the men opted to spend an estimated $6,000 for member Robie Seidelinger to design and build a plane. He did just that and in August, 1910 the Delaplane was nearly complete and was displayed at the fairgrounds.

The plane met with approval from J.D. McCurdy, an assistant to Glenn Curtiss (of Curtiss airplane fame) and word spread rapidly about the plane. After a couple of miscues because of weather, the plane was finally flown on October 21, 1910. It was placed in a hangar for the winter, with big plans for a huge event in the upcoming June. Unfortunately the hangar was struck by lightning and the entire structure and the plane were consumed by the flames. There lies the sad demise of the Delaplane.
This year marks the one hundredth birthday of the Delaplane and the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame will be celebrating. Don’t miss out on the fun and the rest of Delaware’s history, check them out at This Delaware Historical Society is so glad to know it owns the only know photograph of this plane.

Happy 11:45 everyone, Ellen

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Happy 11:45 from the 1860s!

December 15, 2009

2nd and West Streets, Wilmington, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

It’s 11:45 and I’m enjoying a trip back in time. I’m nearly finished cataloging the Delaware Historical Society’s Stereocard Collection into Cuadra Star and I am enjoying these last moments visiting another era! I thought I’d share a little with you- nothing sensational- just fun today.

I picked two views to share- both of 2nd Street but in different towns. The first view shows the corner of 2nd and West Streets in Wilmington in the mid-1860s. It looks like a pretty normal day- a few people walk along the street and it looks as if the maid for the home and one of the youngsters of the family are posed at the corner of the house. I just love the “action shot” of the lady with her long dress walking in front of the home. Most stereocard views are much more staged than this seems to be.

2nd St., New Castle

The second image shows 2nd Street too, but it’s Second Street in New Castle. This house sits across from the Arsenal, a well-known site in New Castle then and today. This one looks different as I converted it into a grayscale image for another purpose. In this view, the photographer spent some time arranging his subjects, or possibly asking the owner of the home what he/she/they might like to have pictured. Standing in front of the horse and buggy is the man responsible for keeping the horse. His jacket is torn on its sleeve- and stands in sharp contrast to the fancy hat of the owner, who you see standing behind the buggy and nearly blocked from view.

Between the two views, we get a tiny sense of what life was like some 130 years ago. Pretty cool job I have today!

-Until Next Time, Ellen

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Pot Luck, Train Trips and Social Media…

November 3, 2009


Yesterday at 11:45  I pulled up to the Shipley Street side of the Delaware Historical Society to run in with my pot luck item for our staff lunch and to pick up my parking pass.  Our parking lot is occupied with scaffolding as the museum building (which sits next to the parking lot) is getting a partial new roof.  So, the staff is now scattered among a few parking lots in the neighborhood.  I was off the last part of last week and in these times of paying for parking, we do our best to share our spots.  My pass was used by a volunteer on Friday so I needed to get it back.

The library is open from 1:00-9:00pm on Mondays, except for once a month when the entire Society staff gathers at 12:00 for an all-staff meeting/lunch.  We regularly schedule pot-luck lunches as we have a fair number of good cooks and it is always nice to cook for others.  Any crankiness I might feel about having to head into work an hour early, (I covet my Monday morning free time) is usually quickly dispelled as our pot luck gatherings are usually relaxed and enjoyable meals and today’s lunch was just that.  Vegetarian chili, dips and cheeses with crackers, bean and corn salad, tomato pie, potato salad, carrot cake and cookies to give you a hint…yummm.

At the lunch meetings, the different staff teams take turns updating the rest of the staff about upcoming programs/projects/etc.  Today we heard from the development, marketing and membership team.  Greg Coin, the head of the team is always percolating all sorts of things, so it is good to hear from him.  He brought us up to date about upcoming partnerships/promotions and programs relating to the railroad exhibit- the major exhibit scheduled for next year.  He then turned the meeting over to our social networking guru, Andrea, who presented a spiffy powerpoint presentation about Web 2.0 and social networking.  We at the Society have been on the blogging/twittering/flickring gig for almost a year, leaning heavily on Andrea the whole way, but most of the staff is just now working to get up to speed.  It was a great presentation and a few more of the staff now more fully understand the potential for the Society in utilizing/participating in the wave of interactive web activity.  Picture in your head a bunch of history-professionals, all over the age of 40 except one (there are more young ones- they happened not to be in attendance)with puzzled looks on their faces- trying to pretend we “get it!”

Every generation puts its stamp on the world.  The “gen y’s” have certainly made their mark already and it is dizzying to see all the potential that is out there for those who wish to participate.  But how do we get the word about the Society out to people who would want to know, especially if they don’t have a clue that they would like to know about our collections and our work?!!!  We’ve been grateful for a few pats-on-the-back along the way from you all- telling us you’ve read “Making History 11:45”  Today I learned from my parents who live nearly 1000 miles from Delaware and are in their 70s that occasionally they check in to see what’s happening!  Pretty cool!  Let us know what you like, want more of, would like to see.  We’re all ears (or should I say computer screens!!).  It’s been fun sharing some of the things that fill our days with you.

I’ve been working on a book project and ran across a broadside that I thought you’d like to see.  It was posted in Delaware City about 150 years ago and was encouraging citizens of the town to visit the traveling photographer to have their portrait taken.  Who knew then that photography wasn’t just a passing fad?!

I’ll be in touch-


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Exploring our Photographs

October 23, 2009

Driving Excursion ca, 1910, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

On days like today – I can safely say that I have the greatest job in the world! Where else would I be able to explore an absolutely outstanding photograph collection for images from the turn of the century? On days like today, I feel so lucky!

I was looking for images from the turn of the century because we recently formed a teacher advisory committee to give us input and advise on our education programs. (These teachers are a GREAT bunch! I’m very excited to work with them.) One thing they are going to do – is create lesson plans that relate to our educational offerings so we can distribute them via our teacher education list. We (the education staff at DHS) put together a sample lesson plan to give the teachers an example of what we’d like to see. The lesson plan is about using primary sources, specifically historic images, in the classroom. It was my job to find images to go along with the lesson!

Like I said – I’m lucky. I picked the turn of the 20th century because we have a brand new childhood program for this time period so I thought it would be nice to have a correlating lesson. I was in heaven searching through our photograph collection and I found some real treasures. (Below are some of my favorites.) I hope that these images will captivate children to explore history and this time period.

One of the activities in our historic image lesson plan is to draw a picture or describe what happens next.  I’m a hopeless romantic so my favorite of the bunch is the first in the post.  I think that this happy, smiling couple rides off into the sunset and live happily ever after! What do you think happens next for any of these pictures?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

Kindergarten Class ca. 1893
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
Delaware State College Ca. 1900
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
Baseball Team Ca. 1910
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
Playground Ca. 1910-1920
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
Children in Playground, 1908
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
RehobothBeach, 1902
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
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Excitement on Market Street!

October 2, 2009

The Queen 1, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

We had some excitement on Market St. this morning for the groundbreaking of the Queen Theatre – the building right next door to the Delaware History Museum.

The Queen Theater

To put the groundbreaking into historical perspective – it’s not a new building. In fact, there has been something at 500 Market since the 1800s (if not before!)

The Queen 4

However, the groundbreaking was the start a restoration project that will restore the Queen to a performing arts venue called World Cafe Live (there is another World Cafe Live in Philadelphia) and a place to broadcast live with WXPN. In case you can’t tell – I’m excited that there will be such a vibrant musical community right next door to the Delaware History Museum and across the street from our library!!!

The Queen truly is a gem along Market Street (one of my absolute favorite buildings!) It also has an interesting history.

Indian Queen Hotel 1850
Indian Queen Hotel, 1850

It was the Indian Queen Hotel in the mid 1800s.

Clayton House 1893
Clayton House Hotel, 1893

In 1873 the building (as we know it today) opened as the Clayton House hotel. This was an elegant hotel and the second largest building in Wilmington. It had 105 guest rooms, sitting rooms, and parlors. By 1878 it became the first hotel in Delaware to have a passenger elevator and hundreds of people came just to rid up and down. The hotel entrance has two banks and there were stores at the bottom on the King Street side. It closed as the hotel in the early 1900s.

Queen Theater Dressed, 1899

The building reopened in 1916 as the Queen Theatre. It was a movie palace. Vaudeville shows were also performed there regularly.

Queen Theater 1940s
Queen Theatre, 1940s

It remained open as a movie theater but declined in popularity after World War II. It closed in 1959 and it’s been vacant ever since.

So…you can understand why we’re so excited to have such a great space being restored!!! The ground breaking was complete with live musicians, crowds in attendance, and excitement about the project. For more information you can visit the web site of the Light up The Queen Foundation: They have some FABULOUS images of the inside!!!!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

Some other shots of The Queen Today and Images from the Groundbreaking Celebration:

The Queen 2
The Queen 3
Another Crowd Shot
Performers at the Groundbreaking
Jonatha Brooks @ Queen Groundbreaking
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More nature and the nature of work at DHS

June 2, 2009

Americanization Class, 1921, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

In keeping with the theme of the exhibit “Whales, Weirs and Waterfowl” that opens on Thursday, we seem to be having an abundance of nature in unexpected places this Spring. First it was the mother robin, then the snake at the Read House and yesterday it was a smallish black bird caught in the space above the card catalog room in the Library. Our library director, Connie, was using the catalog when she thought she heard someone upstairs. Calling for Ed, the reference librarian, she got no reply. When she went up, she knew why! Whoa! The poor bird was trying to fly through the glass in the windows. She opened a window but soon realized she’d need reinforcements. So, she came to me. I promptly went to Greg- the man in the building, because, while I adore nature- it’s always a little unnerving to me to have to interact with it! (Yes, I have total girlish tendencies, it’s a flaw, ok:!). So, four of us armed with foam core pieces to use as sweepers headed up knowing this was going to make a story. It did! Before I proceed, I’d like to say that the bird flew out the window! But, not without a few shouts, coaxes and well, yes, I lost my cool when it came flying toward me as I was holding the window open. I’m just very grateful that I did not employ the window as a guillotine as I panicked and let the window fall. No thanks to me the bird is safe and Connie wonders if she really needed all the fuss the three of us generated!

That was yesterday and we’ve all moved on! Today I am spending my time between research requests, Cuadra Star and getting ready for an intern who starts next Monday. My 11: 45 work is a small job for the local newspaper. I was asked to supply them with a few photographs of the Italian American community in Wilmington during the 1920s and 1930s. For many Wilmingtonians, June means the Italian-American Festival is approaching. The largest local Italian Catholic Church, St. Anthony of Padua has the spring festival market almost captured!. There are many local church festivals here, but the Italian festival is by far the largest. The community is still very large and active and their pride is hard to miss at this time of the year. The streets around the church are festooned with red, white and green bunting. There are bands, great food, carnival rides and a parade. It is fun. Well, the paper wants to run a story for the kick off and came to me for some photos. I sent them four images but will share one with you today. It is taken inside the Italian American Neighborhood House at 708-10 N. Lincoln Street in 1921. Pictured are recent immigrants taking an Americanization Class. It is in these classes that the immigrants came to learn many things about their new country. It appears that they are learning how to greet someone according to our customs. Neighborhood houses were very popular in cities throughout the country in the early twentieth century. They might help new immigrants learn about how to speak English, or provide health services, gather young mothers together for education and support groups and even provide job contacts. Neighborhood houses were very instrumental in making the transition of many families to a successful new home and life in this country.

Now it’s lunch- this afternoon I’ll leave the Italians and do a little cataloguing- but I hope you enjoy the image!


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It’s Baseball Season!

April 29, 2009

Huber baseball copy, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

From April 21, 2009

Today I got to talk one of my favorite topics in Delaware history with Rich Neumann of the City of Wilmington. Rich does many things for the city but we know him here for his work putting together mini-documentaries on aspects of Wilmington. We featured his work on the Historical Society a few weeks back! Rich set up an appointment to meet with me because he is working on a small project to highlight the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame featuring the Wilmington Blue Rocks as part of that history.

I won’t steal his thunder- but we talked about the earliest professional team in Wilmington, the Wilmington Quick Steps (1884) and the Industrial Leagues in which Shoeless Joe Jackson (from the infamous 1917 Chicago Black Sox scandal) played for a Harlan and Hollingsworth team here in the city. We talked some about Judy Johnson, Delaware’s Negro League hero too. He played in the Negro Leagues for 15 years and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.

We talked about the “original” Wilmington Blue Rocks from the 1940s and a little about today’s team. Apart from those teams- we’ve had a lot of baseball greats grow up here or come through here. Robin Roberts, empire Joe McGowen, Dallas Green, Dave and Derrick May Delino De Shields, to name just a few are all from here. Johnny Damon and Carols Beltran, Michael Tucker all played in Wilmington too. It’s fun to remember. So much of that history is chronicled in our library collections. You’re always welcome to delve a little deeper into it.

One of the reasons that I love Spring is that it means the return of baseball. I am not an avid fan of any contemporary team- though I am partial to the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies. I just love the game. Lucky me, I live across the road from two little league fields so I hear baseball all the time when I’m out working in the yard! But that is neither here nor there. It’s so easy to get distracted when the weather warms up, there is sunshine all around and…. well, back to history.

This photo is of one of the Industrial League teams, the Huber Baking Company team in 1933. Rich was taken by the image and it has long been a favorite of mine so I thought we’d share it with you too. The baking company was located at 901 N. Union Street. Unfortunately, we don’t have the real names for the players. Wouldn’t you just love to know Sweet Buns’ real name!

Until next 11:45- Ellen