Posts Tagged ‘Wilmington’


A New Kind of Club….

January 29, 2010

Students Examining Old Image of Their School, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

I am very excited about a new partnership between the us here at the Delaware Historical Society and middle school students and P.S. DuPont. Together, we have formed a history club. The club was the idea of Kelly Whitaker – an absolutely extraordinary 6th grade teacher! Because P.S. DuPont just switched from an elementary school to a middle school – she thought having a history club would be a great way to build a sense of community, history education…and FUN!

Visiting the Jail Cells
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
What is it?
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
Locked Up
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

We will all be meeting together – students, teachers, parents, and historical society staff members – once a month and learning about a variety of topics. Our first gathering was two weeks ago and we provided a general overview of the historical society. I gave a tour of the museum, students explored some of our artifacts more indepth, and we also shared with them old photographs including daguerreotypes, tintypes, negatives ,etc. (The image above shows students examining old images of their school when it was first constructed!)

We had a great group! For me, it was exciting to hear the students talk about when they visited the museum in 3rd grade or 4th grade for a field trip. I was impressed (and thrilled) by how much they remembered. Most rewarding, was watching the students feel comfortable in the museum and begin to take ownership of it. The museum is – after all – a place for them, their histories, and their stories!

I’m looking forward to our February meeting where we’ll be learning about the Underground Railroad.

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

Here is a Smile Box Album from our history club!

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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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Fall Fest A Success!

November 20, 2009

Another shot of Andrea and Cagney, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

A few weeks ago I wrote about getting ready for Fall Fest at the Delaware Historical Society….and then I didn’t write anything about how the event went. Well….shame on me!

We're going fishing!

It was a GREAT event. We got lucky because it didn’t rain, it was sunny, and it wasn’t too warm. (In fact, it rained the five Saturdays before Fall Fest and the Saturday after Fall Fest too! Like I said…lucky!)

Overall we had about 500 people visit the Delaware History Museum, the activities that we organized, and the community groups who came out for the event.



Ellen and Dorothy

This year we had two different areas with kid’s activities where they could aim a nerf bow and arrow into a target, play a duck bean bag toss, pick a rubber ducky (or crab) in our duck pond, color a picture, try their hand at fishing, and make a duck call out of a straw. (The straw duck call and the nerf bow and arrow were by far the most popular kid’s activities.) We also had a storytime…and don’t forget about Lucy the Whale. Lucy survived the day and was a hit – about 200 people visited her and learned about our very special Fin Whale. (I must say – she looked so tiny when she was outside on Market St.)


A really hard day...

We had some great music by the Whirled Peas. And several community organizations came out including – the Red Cross, the Delaware Museum of Natural History, The Brandywine Zoo, The Delaware Nature Society, East Coast Search and Rescue, and the New-Del-Pen Newfoundland Club. (The picture above is me and Cagney – the Newfoundland who attended the event.)

Overall, it was nice to see the entire staff coming together to pull everything off! I truly appreciated all of their efforts!

Check out all of the Fall Fest pictures on Flickr or on our Delaware Historical Society Facebook page. Have you own pictures? We would love to upload them and add them to the albums!!!!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

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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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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


A Mailing!

August 20, 2009

A Mailing!, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

I haven’t been writing much for our 11:45 blog this summer. It’s not because I haven’t been working on anything interesting (because I have). It’s mostly because we’ve been so busy here at DHS that I haven’t made the time. (SHAME on me!!!)

But I’ll be better!

This week our school brochure finally went out in the mail! When I say finally, it’s because it’s always a long process. It’s been a process that has taken up many 11:45 mornings over the course of the past few months. The education staff begins working on the brochure in April or May with our graphic designer. We always have to have decide what programs we are keeping, cutting, changing, etc. And then we have to decide on the design.

This year we completely changed the design. Our designer did such a good job. I LOVE it!!! It’s bright, cheery, colorful. How can you go wrong with polka dots? We’re really trying to go green so we cut back on the amount of pages we printed and are working to build our email list. Our new design points back to our web-site. Hopefully by next year we’ll be able to be completely electronic. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!!! (Do any other museum ed. departments have experience with sending out all correspondence electronically?)

Yesterday morning all of our brochures were sent out in the mail. The above picture is a stack of our brochures awaiting a final sort (in zip code order) and count for bulk mail. Our PR associate and I braved the confusion that is the Postal Service Bulk Mail. (But the discounted postage rates are worth muddling through all the rules!) Thankfully all was successful and off in the mail the brochures went.

This mailing was certainly a team effort! I’m so thankful at times like these that we have a staff that really pulls together and helps everyone else out.

Now I just wait with baited breath for the phone to ring off the hook with field trip requests!!!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea


This is just one of my favorite things…..

July 17, 2009

Dansey Flag, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

You know how when you have kids you aren’t supposed to have a favorite? Or if you’re a teacher you aren’t supposed to have a favorite students? Or a favorite grandchild if you’re a grandparent? Well…I wonder if that’s also true if you work in a museum. If you work in a museum can you have a favorite object? Because I do!

True, this may change from day to day. Also true (b/c I don’t get to work with the collections every day) that when I do get to learn about the artifacts or documents we have in our collection I am always blown away! However, I like certain topics better than others. And so while on any given day I might change what my favorite collection item is, there are some that always remain at the top of my list!!

Like the Dansey Flag (above)!

To me, artifacts are all the more fascinating if you know the story behind them. In many ways artifacts can tell multiple stories: they can tell the story of different times and places, they can tell about culture and life, they can tell the stories of generations if an object is documented throughout its history. To me history is all about stories! Not just names, dates, facts, etc. Stories. The Dansey Flag has one great story!!!

Picture this (are you ready for a long one?):

Captain William Dansey – a professional soldier from England part of the British 33rd Regiment – comes to the colonies in 1776 to fight “the rebels” in the American Revolution. He fought in battles throughout the colonies, including battles in Delaware and Pennsylvania as part of the Philadelphia campaign in 1777.

While I don’t want to get into all of the details of the campaign, in brief, on August 25, 1777, three hundred British ships under the command of Admiral Richard Howe landed at Elkton, Maryland intent on capturing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the capital of the American colonies. Dansey was among these men.

As British troops marched north from Elkton, Maryland, the American troops tried to prevent the Red Coats from advancing. Scouting parties from the two armies clashed at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge on September 3, 1777 in New Castle County, Delaware. The American Army was unable to deter the British and the two armies met again along the Brandywine River. The Americans took a defensive position along the river, but they were defeated by the British. This loss of the Battle of the Brandywine allowed the British to gain control of Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. The Americans were again defeated on October 4, 1777 at the Battle of Germantown when the Continental Army attempted to regain control of Philadelphia. After this loss, Philadelphia remained in British hands and was occupied through June of 1778. Wilmington, Delaware was also occupied by the British for a brief period. While the British occupied Philadelphia the Continental Army wintered at Valley Forge.

Okay – but back to the story of Dansey and the flag. In the four days between the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge and the Battle of the Brandywine, Captain William Dansey captured the flag of the “rebel” Delaware militia. The flag was captured along with a horse, arms, drums, baggage, and a member of the Delaware militia (who was promptly returned). It is not one hundred percent certain who this flag was captured from. However, most of the evidence points to Colonel Samuel Patterson of Christiana. Captain Dansey – proud of his war trophy – wrote to his mother describing the capture of the flag and the British efforts in capturing the city of Philadelphia.

“I must tell you a Piece of good Luck I had a few Days before the Battle of the Brandywine On a Flanking Party I took the Horse, Arms, Colours and Drums belonging to a Rebel Colonel of the Delaware Militia and his Brother Prisoner & caused all his Baggage to be taken, which the General very politely sent back again but the Horse, Arms & Colours came to my share, the later I hope to bring as a Trophy to Brinsop…” (Oct. 9, 2009)

Wow! Can you imagine what it must have felt like for the people on both sides? Dansey was probably elated because what a war prize he collected! (Especially because Dansey – in no uncertain terms – felt the Americans were “cowardly Scoundrels.” The Delaware militia on the other hand not only has their flag stolen, but a horse, weapons, drums, baggage…and even a member of the unit!!! And then they go on to loose the Battle of the Brandywine, The Battle of Germantown, and Philadelphia. Yikes!

Well the story doesn’t end there. Dansey remained in America through the end of the war in 1783. At war’s end, he did not have a positive outlook on the newly formed country. He wrote: “The State of this once happy Country under their new Rulers is worse than the most violent Rage of War and now the Sword is sheath’d Persecutions are begun more iniquitous and horrid than the Inquisitions and they will not only drive the Loyalists away but all peaceable and moderate Men.” (August 22, 1783)

The Arms & Colours eventually made their way to back to Brinshop, England – the home of the Dansey family since 1440. The flag was added to the collection of family war trophies that were displayed in the great hall of his home. This is why today it’s called the Dansey Flag.

But how do we know all of this???

Because the story doesn’t end there. It continues on.

The flag was a part of the Dansey family collection until November 1927 when they put the flag up for auction along with a collection of letters (39 in total) that William Dansey wrote to his mother during the American Revolution. As soon as the Delaware Historical Society heard that the flag was for sale, they began to raise funds from the local Delaware community to purchase the flag and bring it back home. After three months of fundraising, the Delaware Historical Society raised enough money, purchased the flag and letters at auction, and brought them back to Delaware. Today both the Dansey flag and the Dansey letters are located at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington.

I think both flag and letters are fascinating. And because of this amazing story they are also some of my favorite objects in our collections!!!!

If you’re wondering why exactly the Dansey Flag is on my mind….

We’re currently putting together primary source packets for elementary school students as part of a Teaching Historical Literacy project. The Dansey Flag and selected letters are part of the packet. I’ve been working on transcribing letters and coming up with question and lesson ideas for the past several mornings with our intern, Ali.

Maybe I can convince our collections folk to write a blog about their favorite objects in our collection. Would that be of interest to you? It could be the Delaware Historical Society’s favorite things. Hmmmm….

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

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