Posts Tagged ‘Delaware’


Bitter Sweet Day at the Historical Society

March 19, 2010

It is with a sad heart that this 11:45er is saying goodbye to the Delaware Historical Society.  Today is my last day working for a truly wonderful organization – one that I have been honored to be a part of for the past six and a half years.  It is a place where I have grown both professionally and personally and a part of my heart will always be here.

One of the ways the Historical Society truly allowed me to spread my wings was in social media.  Never in a million years did I think I would become interested in technology.  Yet here I am – blogging, tweeting, and following tech news with a passion I never would have expected.  I count myself as truly lucky to have been a part of an organization that gave me the room to try these things and also to discover myself along the way!!!

For those of you who follow Making History 11:45 – have no fear!  I have spent the past month training others to pick up where I left off.  I’m excited that you’ll have the opportunities to hear other voices from our organization and maybe even see our project take off with new life or in a new direction.  (We would love to hear from you if you have any ideas!)  I know that I’m looking forward to following the project from the other end. The picture above was from the lunchtime goodbye party the incredible staff gave me at lunch.  (Our staff has some of the best cooks out there.)

Thank you all for your support in our blog, for following this project, and for your words of encouragement!

Signing off for my final 11:45


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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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Pushmobile Derby Fun!

January 22, 2010

Ready, Set…Go!, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Hello from the photo files! I am working on the finding aid/cataloguing a large collection of photographs from a photographic studio here in Wilmington. Lubitsh and Bungarz Photographers operated first from Market Street then from Orange Street in Wilmington from 1949-1989.

The negative collection is monster-big. A volunteer spent a few years identifying the prints for us and now I am working to her work into our catalog. There are probably somewhere in the vicinity of 2000 prints of some very cool happenings, places and people. Everyone from this little boy who raced and placed in the 1955 Pushmobile Derby sponsored by the Delaware Association of Police, to the Pope John Paul II, a couple of Miss Delaware contestants and Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Kennedy. The collection includes images of both of the Delaware Memorial Bridges being built, views of homes, banks, businesses, ground breakings and numerous civic ceremonies as well as views of the Getty Oil Refinery (most recently Valero) in Delaware City, scenes from Brandywine Raceway and aerial views from across the state.

What a fun collection it is! It is also very significant to us because it picks up almost exactly where the Sanborn Studio (our other very large studio collection) left off. Photographers are some of the very best documenters of history and this is certainly true of Lubitsh and Bungarz.

The Bungarz Print collection, named as such because it was a gift to the Delaware Historical Society from Jack Bungarz after his long-time partner, Cypen Lubitsh had died and as he was retiring from the business, is a rich treasure of everyday scenes and important events, as such it is an indispensable resource for all of us. Come down to browse through the boxes or check us out on-line in a few months!

Until next time- enjoy 11:45!

Help us identify this image!

Pushmobile Derby Winner
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

This little boy raced in the Pushmobile Derby in Wilmington in 1955. He drove the car sponsored by the Lubitsh and Bungarz Photographers. Partner Cy Lubitsh is seen posing to the left of the boy on his car- is this his son? We don’t have an identification- anybody out there who could help? The boy was apparently good, as he is seen here in the second image accepting his prize from the race officials. The Delaware Association of Police sponsored the event which featured the work of local boys in cooperation with local businesses.

Getting ready for Pushmobile Derby
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
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The Best Part of My Day….

December 10, 2009

Student Report Card #2, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

When students come to visit us at the Delaware History Museum, we’re always interested in what they think! At the end of the day we give each teacher in attendance an evaluation for them to fill out and history museum report cards for students to rate us on how we did. Sometimes the returned student report cards are just priceless – such as these from 4th graders at Maple Lane Elementary School. Just in case you can’t decipher everything that they students drew/or are talking about…I’ll help you out along the way!

This particular report card is amazing in it’s accuracy. In our permanent exhibition (Distinctively Delaware) we have a cut out of a longhouse with skins on the floor and stretched out to dry. I think this student did a fabulous job depicting our longhouse and even used her imagination to fill in some Lenni Lenape hanging out inside.

We have some additional student report cards posted on our Flickr photostream:  I’m so happy by how accurate some of the images are!  My favorite drawing depicts a student and a museum guide.  It’s very detailed (this child had talent) although I have to admit I don’t know who this tall, skinny, brunette with shoulder length hair is supposed to depict.  Maybe I’ll ask my guide staff to fight it out amongst the 3 of them!!!!  I wish I could say it was me!!!!

As for the question “what was the best part of your day?”  How are these answers for some cute points:

  • “Eating lunch with my uncle”
  • “The best part of my day would be everything!”

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea (Delaware Historical Society)

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The Bancrofts

December 1, 2009

Samuel Bancroft House, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

December Greetings! It’s officially the holiday season- hoorah!

I am in the process of cataloguing the Stereocard Collection. The Society owns approximately 250 of these cards- most were produced in the third quarter of the 19th century. They were made with a special camera that had two lenses very near one another. When the photographer took his photograph, he actually took two nearly identical images. The two were developed and mounted on a card. The cards used were of various sizes and measured about 7” wide by about 3 ½” high. They were viewed through a special contraption- a handle with glasses and an easel holder for the card. The viewer slid the easel closer or further from the “glasses” until the image appeared as a three-dimensional view. To us today, these stereopticon cards are cool, fun and very entertaining! But put yourself in the shoes of people who didn’t have television or movies and imagine what fun they were. When I was a small girl, my mom went on a steroptican kick and bought a viewer and some cards- I loved them! She bought a lot of western scenes showing people posed precariously on the tops of mountains and canyons and views of people at Niagara Falls. Even for a little girl in the 1970s- these cards provided a chance to get away and see things that were exciting and even thrilling.

Back to Delaware and the Historical Society and Cuadra Star (alas- a few moments with the thrill seekers atop the Grand Canyon and my mind starts to feel wanderlust…). Anyway, I’m working on a tiny collection of five cards donated by the Bancroft family. The Bancrofts, a Quaker family, had a very successful milling business along the Brandywine River just west of Wilmington. In 1831 Joseph Bancroft founded a cotton mill at Rockford, Delaware. Daily operations were based on the British methods of spinning and weaving. Bancroft’s sons William Poole Bancroft (1835-1928) and Samuel Bancroft, Jr. (1840-1915) became partners in the Rockford factory, which became Joseph Bancroft & Sons. In 1889 the business was incorporated, and was known thereafter as Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company.

This collection of five cards show views of the homes and mills before the company was incorporated. The one that caught my eye is a view of the home of Samuel Bancroft Jr. At 26 he married and had a house built for the couple. A hand-written note on the reverse of the card tells the story: “Samuel Bancroft and Mary R. Richardson were married June 8, 1865 and moved into this house in February 1866- this house being built for them and they occupied the “Fulton house” until this house was ready for them. Samuel Bancroft is sitting on the porch. This was the beginning of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Bancroft Jr.”

As an aside- most Delawareans would know Samuel and Mary Bancroft for their interest and generosity to the arts community. Samuel became fascinated with Pre-Raphaelite art and amassed the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside the United Kingdom. His donation of the collection and eleven acres of land was the impetus for the Delaware Art Museum in the 1930s.


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A Whale of Tale!

November 5, 2009
Lucy the Whale, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Wow – we’re busy this week. Two blog posts in one day! (Sometimes that seems that we have so much to write about while other weeks….well….)

The start of building Lucy the Giant Whale
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

This week I’ve super busy getting ready for Fall Fest. It’s a free city family event that takes place along Market Street – the 400 through the 800 blocks. There will be a lot going on and we’re excited about participating.

It's all tape and plastic!
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

Our theme this year is water and water safety. It all relates back to the exhibit at the Delaware History Musuem, Whales, Weirs, and Waterfowl. I’ve spend my week making bean bag tosses, duck ponds, and fishing games. However, I think (if I do say so myself) that the best part of Fall Fest is going to be Lucy the Giant Whale!

I found out about Lucy through a Twitter friend who tweeted out the website of where to order instructions. (She’s part of the curriculum materials developed by Whale Net at Wheelock College. and the Mingan Island Cetacean Study) I thought she was awesome and asked if we could make her for Fall Fest. (After all – the first part of our exhibit title is Whales).

Lucy's insides
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

I ordered the instructions (MICS was so good about sending them to me ASAP). I bought the materials over the weekend and we began constructing Lucy on Tuesday. Now – I have to say – in my line of work at the Delaware Historical Society, I don’t often have the opportunity to learn about whales or use the metric system. I’m ashamed to say this BUT…the first two hours of my whale building adventure consisted of trying to re-learn the metric system. (I did know it once upon a time…maybe in 7th grade science.) It also took some head scratching to decipher (and remember) Dorsal Side, Ventral Side, peduncle, flukes, anterior side (head), and posterior side (okay…I knew what that was)!

With a lot of help (five people helping me out) and a lot of jokes along the way – like lots of Jonah and the Whale/Jonas brothers quips (trust me they all related after being at whale building for 5 hours strait), jokes about being able to “add giant” whale to our resumes, and one guide asking if my master’s in history prepare me for this – we managed to build our giant whale. We only had two slight mishaps along the way (like building the head incorrectly the first time and having Lucy “pop” when we first tried to inflate her.) Now that she’s done. I have to say this…SHE’S AWESOME! She’s huge to look at from the outside (I really never knew that whales were that big), but the best part is when you go inside. Yes – you can really go inside!!!

Lucy the Whale
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

I wouldn’t have been able to do it without help so I’m very grateful for everyone who put to good use their out of practice crawling muscles, risked slipping on giant sheets of plastic, unrolled piece after piece of tape, and stayed late with me to finish her up. These pictures simply don’t do her justice so I hope you’ll come out on Saturday (it’s supposed to be a beautiful day) for the Fall Fest. It’s from 11:00-4:00. Lucy the whale will be in the 500 block of Market St. at the Delaware Historical Society.

Now – onto making duck calls out of plastic straws!

Until 11:45 Next,

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Fall Fest Preparations

November 5, 2009

Chris and Curtis Ready to Play Duck Hunt, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Take Aim
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

The staff and volunteers of the Delaware Historical Society are busy this week preparing for the City of Wilmington’s Fall Fest this Saturday. Yesterday the Howard School of Technology Service Learning students, Chris and Curtis helped paint boxes for a bean bag toss. They also tried the nerf “duck shoot.” We made the game pretty difficult, Curtis succeeded after 12 attempts- can you beat that? The object is to shoot through the holes next to the sitting ducks. We just didn’t have the heart to shoot a duck! We are soft, animal loving people through and through! Hey- is that so bad?

Here are Curtis and Chris posing with the nerf guns- they loved the game we’re pretty sure you will too!

We’re also trying to construct Lucy, a 55’ long whale. Wish us luck- as Saturday draws near- we need your good wishes and Lucy’s cooperation. It’s hard to birth a 55’ whale- full grown and

Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

made of plastic. Come down to the Society this Saturday- we’ll have live animals (not plastic, we promise) from the Brandywine Zoo, a table from the Delaware Natural History Museum, and many other attractions including Newfoundland dogs and rescue dogs. All that- and our smiling faces. We hope you’ll join us. It’s free!

For more about the City’s programs, check this out:

Until next time,

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