Posts Tagged ‘Wilmington Delaware’


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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Welcome 2010

January 7, 2010

Smiling Face and Color Coordination, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

The Delaware Historical Society staff celebrated the New Year with two special events. On January 3, we invited our very special Delaware Historical Society volunteers to the Read House for an open house. Our library and Read House garden volunteers enjoyed getting to know one another and sampling a variety of delicious dishes. We appreciate the hard work our volunteers perform and know that we could not accomplish all that we do without them!

Tap Room at 11:45

On January 4 at 11:45 our staff was finishing up another successful staff work day. Some big tasks at first seem insurmountable, but we realized years ago that if we all work together we can accomplish a lot in a short time. So one day each January the staff all works together on one or more designated projects. This year we worked on several projects at the Read House. Our biggest project was removing collections pieces from the early twentieth century basement tap room to prepare for ceiling repair that is part of our Save America’s Treasures project. Some staff members also helped to rearrange our woodshed in preparation for our February and March hearth cooking workshops and remove holiday decorations and clean period rooms under the direction of the Read House curatorial assistants. With seventeen of us working on the various projects we were even able to fit in a tour of the preservation activities for our Wilmington staff.

Tap Room collections are being stored in the b...

After our work was completed, we enjoyed lunch together at a local restaurant. What a great team!

Until next time…

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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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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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We’re walking…and we’re walking…

June 12, 2009

Walking Tour Group Getting Started, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

About three years ago we had an exhibit at the Delaware History Museum about Market Street in Wilmington. It was one of the most popular exhibits we’ve had since I’ve worked for DHS. As part of the exhibit, we conducted oral histories with community members and we put together a walking tour that really focused on change – how Market has continually changed through the years and it will continue to change in the future.

Though the exhibit has come and gone, the walking tours have not. We generally hold them on the first Saturday of the month in May, June, August, September and October. They’ve proved to be fairly popular. When I say popular I mean we generally get 6-8 people per walking tour.

I really enjoy giving these walking tours. I love talking to people about history, but I like these walking tours because I learn so much. Okay – I’m going to admit something to you – I’m not a native Delawarean. In fact, I’ve lived in PA practically my whole life and only in July will I become an official Delaware resident. So when I lead these walking tours I learn from the participants about a fairly recent history that I didn’t get to experience. I’ve learned things like this building used to be this business, and you had to wear white gloves to go shopping in this store, and this store sold boy scout uniforms. (I’ve even been told by walking tour participants which of the old theaters on Market Street used to show naughty films!)

Wilmington Dry Goods

Take Wilmington Dry Goods, for example. In the walking tour outline there is quite a bit of information about Wilmington Dry Goods. From the walking tour research and outline – it seems like any other store along Market Street. It was opened by Joseph Lazarus, a Russian Immigrant in 1924. It closed in 1974 (like so many other stores along Market Street) and was demolished in 1986. But through leading these walking tours – I’ve learned there is so much more to the story. When walking tour groups stand on 4th Street looking at a big gaping hole where Wilmington Dry used to be their eyes light up. Yes – they light up looking at a big empty hole. That’s because they have such wonderful memories of Wilmington Dry Goods – it makes me wish that I had the opportunity to shop there.

Inside Wilmington Dry

I’ve learned that the store opened every day with the playing to the Star Spangled Banner. They had great sales and buses came from PA, NJ, MD just for the sales – a 4 cent table, $7.00 suits, hosiery 2 pairs for a dollar. Sometimes as many as 200 people waited in line wrapping around the block. There was even a “riot” during WWII when Wilmington Dry advertised they had nylon hosiery for sale! There were wooden sales tables inside. The floors were squeaky. It smelled like hot dogs. People constantly tell me that Wilmington Dry Goods was the greatest store in the world!!!! (If you noticed in the picture – the store front proudly proclaims itself as the greatest store in the world!!!)

On these walking tours, however folks inevitably ask about the architecture along Market Street. And just like I admitted I am not (yet) a Delawarean – I don’t know much about architecture. So this past Saturday we held a special architectural tour of Market Street. This is what I did last Saturday at 11:45! Eldon Homsey of Homsey architects led the tour and we had 26 people come!!! (Thanks Facebook!!!) I was incredibly pleased with the turnout.

And what I learned from the tour – besides some fancy architectural words like octagonal bays, muntin, and curly cues (…okay I’m not sure if that’s really an official architectural phrase or not…) – is that people aren’t just interested in architecture. Nor are they just interested in the history of Market St. They want to learn about both. While I knew this from leading other tours, it was just reinforced on Saturday. I’m hoping by our next tour in August, we’ll be able to talk a little bit about architecture, a little bit about the history of Market Street, and a whole lot about change!!!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

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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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Flat Stanley Visits Delaware

May 14, 2009

Flat Stanley and Mason Dixon Line Marker, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Flat Stanley and his dog, Nicole, arrived from Green Bay Wisconsin May 1st! A third grade student named Sofia, from St. Matthew School sent Flat Stanley to us so she could learn about Delaware.

This kept me – the Delaware Historical Society Education Assistant onmy toes! (Especially because the school requested their “Flat Stanley” back by May 8th). Stanley had to get his site seeing and pictures taken, fast!

So Stanley and I made our way to Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, to show Stanley (and Nicole) the oldest church in Delaware. It was built in 1698.

Flat Stanley and Kalmar Nyckel

We also journeyed to the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard in Wilmington to show Stanley the tall ship (reconstruction of the original), which brought Swedish settlers to New Sweden in 1638; New Sweden is known as Wilmington today! He wanted to go sailing, but their season does not start until May:

Luckily, I work at a great place to discover Delaware’s history and Stanley enjoyed sitting beside a capstone from the Mason Dixon Line, while learning that Delaware is technically east of the Mason Dixon Line. Stanley saw the inside of a Lenape wigwam, stood beside Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garret who were working together to abolish slavery through the Underground Railroad in Delaware, and he even learned about Delaware’s chicken industry and Cecile Steele.

Stanley also made a visit to St. Matthew School in Wilmington, DE. He didn’t indicate if it reminded him of his home at St. Matthew in Green Bay, WI.

Flat Stanley and New Castle

The students from Wisconsin are using their Flat Stanleys to learn about climates in all 50 states, well Stanley got a rainy week in Delaware, and while he did not get to go to the present capital of Delaware in Dover, he was held under my umbrella at the original capital in Historic New Castle at the Court House. While we were there we got to see the Read House as well.

These Flat Stanley projects are a creative and fun way to gather the important information to students, especially in third grade, who are learning about each state, the capitals, geography, and climates here in the United States. I was happy to help!

~Antoinette (DHS Education Assistant)

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