Posts Tagged ‘Library’


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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News from the Library…

September 30, 2009

Interns from Howard H.S. Working Away, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Hi from the library! It’s been a while since I’ve posted- we’ve been getting back in the groove of opening up for business every day. Our new HVAC system is a dream. As for the moving part, we’re not quite all unpacked but more than 90% operational! Packing up, relocating and unpacking, moving the shelves and getting back on our “regular” schedule was an experience that thankfully we won’t have to re-do. I really liked my office “in exile” but I have a great spot here and since I’ve been working in the library for more than 20 years, home really does seem best.

With the new school year, we have a new pair of Howard High School students working in the library. They are here for about 90 minutes every day that school is in session (minus an occasional assembly, tests or something special). So, we’d like to introduce them to you. Meet Chris Greene (left) and Curtis Maxwell (right). Both are seniors at Howard, playing football this season and both are enrolled in the computer course work at Howard.

If we’re lucky, we’ll get them to post to our site. If not, I’ll keep you updated on the projects that they are undertaking. In this photo, they are looking over an 1881 Atlas of the City of Wilmington. Even though their school is well within the limits of the city today, their block was not included on that atlas and their school was not yet built. So far, they’ve discovered the usefulness of the City Directories, spent some time in the Ephemera Collection and helped with a mailing.

These days, I’m working on a myriad of projects. I’m mounting a library exhibit, “Be True to Your School” featuring objects from the library and museum collections relating to the High School experience. I’m working with Connie to wrap up another edition of our scholarly journal, “Delaware History” and working on producing info., estimates for work flow and times for cataloguing the photo and print collections. Never a dull moment-just like I like it!

Until next 11:45- Ellen


Wonderful things can happen just before lunch…

July 23, 2009

Today, Joan Hoge, our executive director, called to tell me that all the scaffolding was out of the library reading room and that the new HVAC system was working. The library was actually cool and quiet! That’s a real change from our old system, which was noisy and ineffective.

There are still boxes....
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

All of the work and disruptions of the past several months are coming into their final phase. But it will still be a while before we can open to the public, so researchers, be patient a little longer! There’s still a lot of cleaning to do, and we have to put all the books back in their accustomed

Look, no scaffolding!
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr


We could use some help with putting things back together, so if you have a few hours to spare we would appreciate it. We’re hoping to reopen in mid-August.

Connie, Library Director

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Last day before a holiday and a week off!

July 2, 2009

New Castle County Workhouse Postcard, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

It’s a beautiful summer day outside! The sun is shining and the humidity is down. My temporary office reminds me of the weather constantly. In the library I can escape into “libraryland” while I’m concentrating. Here, with windows on either side of my desk and behind me- I can’t ignore the weather and outside. (I’d always rather be outside!) It is especially hard today because it is a brilliant day out there.

It’s a good thing that I have a fun task at hand. I am hard at work, trying to finish up book 5 of 9 postcard binders. I’m whole-heartedly trying to enter into Cuadra Star all the cataloging data to finish up this volume of the postcard collection. Currently I’m working on the Hospital category. I thought I’d share one of the cards with you. It’s not really an exceptional card- but it’s still a good one. This one is titled: “New Castle County Hospital and the Delaware State Hospital for the Insane, Near Wilmington, Del.” We know this today as the Delaware State Hospital. Since it was published, we (our society) have removed any politically incorrectness in its name- though it functions much for the same reason. It is located on Route 13 a few miles south of Wilmington. Its main building, pictured here, is impressive. Once, I had to meet someone on the campus and while it is still recognizable from this card, much has changed. I would imagine that the kind of medicine practiced has been revolutionized since this card was published- thank goodness.

This card was mailed in 1911 to Margaret Dunn in Bivalve, Maryland and bears a one cent stamp. There is a confusing message written on the back. It goes something like this. “I am waiting pat for an answer from my letter. What is the trouble? Am very anxious to hear from home. Lovingly Ester.” Then along the end of the note space this: “Went to church 3 times yesterday and today. Handy lectured.” So – do you think Ester bought the card at a local drug store or was she writing from the inside?

Wonder what the trouble was?!! Too bad we’ll never know. Hope it was soon settled in any case.

Enjoy the Fourth of July and I’ll write more when I return from a week at work camp with high school kids in West Virginia! Yahoo!


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Still Dusty and Under Wraps

June 23, 2009

Plaster Work, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

The end of June is fast approaching and the library is still a major construction zone. We have clearance to begin cleaning the basement and putting parts of the uprooted collections back into place- that will help with accessibility for large parts of the collection.

But the library floor remains under plastic and a deepening layer of dust. At the present, the plasterers are at work making the large gaping strips in the ceiling look really good. It’s difficult to see in the photos, but a long strip of maybe 2-3’ across was cut the entire length of the ceiling on each side of the building. Now, after the plaster, there remains only a small gap of about 2-3” where cold air will enter the room. It is hardly noticeable and actually it even looks rather elegant! There are a number of layers of plaster that have to be applied. Then, we have to wait about three weeks for the plaster to set/harden/cure…(sorry I don’t know the correct term).

After the curing period, the plaster gets painted, then the entire library will be cleaned, de-scaffolded and reassembled before the library floor is ready to open. So, we’re still very much in a holding pattern. We’ve had a surprising number of drop-in researchers from out of town, etc. who we’ve been able to service even if in a limited way. But, I really miss having the library at my disposal- it is filled with amazing resources! I have to admit too that I miss the whole atmosphere of the library and its patrons. In some ways, my temporary office is good because it is a little secluded- in a building that is locked and two floors up- and that has some distinct advantages.

But, I’ve been working in the library since 1986 and habits that old aren’t changed easily. It will be so wonderful to greet visitors and show them to the answers they are looking for, housed in books awaiting them on the open shelves.

Writing from under a hard-hat trying to make heads and tails of the plans (and grateful that I’m a librarian not a contractor!)… till next 11:45


Plans for Library Wrk
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
More Plans
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
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Overhead Views

March 30, 2009

Overhead View, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Wow! What a difference a week makes!

We survived a week of moving. We are all a little brain dead, and muscle tired. We had fabulous support from 7 adult volunteers and two Howard High School interns. What a difference volunteers make in many ways. They give their time/work of course, but they also provide fresh people in the mix and offer a real feeling of support for the “cause” too. It is incredible that anyone is out there in the world who feels that they would like to come in to make boxes, pack boxes and move boxes. I really believe that history often strikes a very personal and meaningful cord in people’s lives, but really- does our organization do that?! Cool.

We, the staff believe that our role in preserving and helping share our state’s history is significant, but we know that we cannot command the place in society’s heart that the American Lung Association can, or the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society holds. So, it is so gratifying to look back on this week and count the hours that were donated to help us. In total, 26 hours of labor were provided! Isn’t that great?

Above is a view of what the library floor looked like a few weeks back. This photo was taken by another volunteer, Barry Corke. He stood in the balcony and looked down toward the front of the library.

Overhead View, After
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

Here is a view of what the library floor looks like today. We’ll show you what it looks like when it’s been covered with plastic too- we can’t wait for the work to begin!



Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s off to work we go…

March 27, 2009

Library Volunteers, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

We were at it again, more moving!  The countdown to demo and construction is approaching- T minus 6 (work) days.

This time, library and other staff concentrated on moving books and shelves en masse.  (The computers were being moved around at the same time, so it was very lively- stuff was going in every direction!)  It’s funny how we don’t seem like a particularly large library until it’s time to move the books!  After one move, people have a whole different appreciation of just how many books are on the floor!

Lucky for us, we have fans in the community who are willing to devote hours and muscle power to our cause!  Today we had three long-time DHS members and Delaware Genealogical Society members volunteer to assemble boxes for packing and move books on the reading room floor.  They were joined by another library volunteer, a retired legal librarian who also pitched in.  By the way, we made them pose for the photo- most agreed they didn’t pitch in for the limelight, but hey- if we can’t give them a moment of glory on our blog- what can we give them?!    Seen left to right are: Doug Wenney, Caroline Sparks, Pam  —  and Robbie Snowden.  (We did buy them munchkins and provide some chocolate chip cookies too.)

Don’t you wish you could have been part of the 11:45 gang today?  What are you doing tomorrow?


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