Current Society News -

Lynette Overby (foreground) leads a rehearsal in UD's dance studio, photograph by Kathy F. Atkinson DHS Board Trustee Lynnette Overby honored as educator, advocate, mentor

Lynnette Young Overby’s career has included work as a grade-school physical education teacher, doctoral student, college professor, author, researcher, national advocate for arts education, choreographer, performer and mentor to numerous students and young faculty members.web1

“Advocacy is very important to me, and so are mentoring and teaching, research and service,” said Overby, professor of theatre and dance at the University of Delaware.
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Right: Lynnette Overby (foreground) leads a rehearsal in UD’s dance studio of “Dave the Potter,” a multidisciplinary performance project that premiered at UD in 2014, with Overby as the art director and choreographer. Photograph by Kathy F. Atkinson

DHS Welcomes Dr. David W. Young as Executive Director

David YoungThe Delaware Historical Society has announced that David W. Young, Ph.D., has been hired as the next Executive Director of the organization, following a months-long national search.

Dr. Young has served as Executive Director of Cliveden, a National Trust for Historic Preservation property in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, since 2006. The innovative and collaborative programming he developed for Cliveden, the Revolutionary-era home of the Benjamin Chew family, engages both the war for independence and the struggle for emancipation. It has been supported by grants from Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and the National Endowment for Humanities, among many others, and has received state and national awards. Dr. Young has also served as president of Historic Germantown, a consortium of independent historic sites united to promote and preserve the shared stories of the neighborhood as a community.

Prior to his tenure at Cliveden, Dr. Young was the Executive Director of the Johnson House Historic Site, one the few intact stops on the Underground Railroad, and of the Salem County Historical Society in Salem, New Jersey. He also served as Director of Education at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia History. Dr. Young received his Doctoral and Master of Arts degrees in History from Ohio State University and his Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Northwestern University. He is a member of the National Landmarks Committee, an advisory board of the National Park Service. He has served as a lecturer in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and is the author of books and articles on public history and historical interpretation.  

“We are enthusiastic about Dr. Young’s leadership of the Delaware Historical Society” said Margaret L. Laird, Chair of the DHS Board of Trustees. “We were overwhelmed by the number and extremely high caliber of the individuals who expressed an interest in this position. The selection was challenging in every way, but we were unanimous in our agreement that Dr. Young’s unique combination of skills and experience is an excellent fit for the strategic direction we have laid out for the Delaware Historical Society.”

Young said, “I am eager to build on the great work of the board and staff of the Delaware Historical Society and to continue my interests in the history of the Mid-Atlantic region by engaging audiences, members, and communities statewide to showcase the powerful stories Delaware has to offer.”

Dr. Young will begin his work at the Delaware Historical Society at the end of June.

2018 Delaware History Makers Award

Everyone’s talking about this year’s History Makers Award celebrating Sam and Mariah Calagione of Dogfishhead Brewery.

Betsy Price of The News Journal, recounts the fresh spin the Delaware Historical Society put on this year’s event which consisted of a lively toast and short panel discussion at The Queen, followed by food and beer pairings, live music and a speakeasy, right next door at the Delaware Historical Society.  Read more about the evening and see additional photographs in the News Journal article below.

Sam and Mariah Calagione (right) receiving the 2018 Delaware History Makers Award from Board Chair Margaret Laird. Interim CEO David Fleming shown on left. Photo by Amanda Kimball "Sam sent me."
That was the secret password given to hundreds of people attending the 2018 Delaware History Makers Award honoring Sam and Mariah Calagione on Thursday night in Wilmington. Attendees used it to get past a World War I soldier into a Prohibition-era speakeasy on the second floor of the Delaware History Museum after the award was presented to the Calagiones, owners of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, at The Queen theater.

"I feel like I'm renewing my vows," Sam joked as he awkwardly held hands with Mariah while Dr. Peg Laird, chairman of the Delaware Historical Society's board, was presenting the award.

"Repeat after me," Laird joked back, starting to read a citation from Gov. John Carney honoring the Calagiones.

The event was a dramatic change for the awards, which double as a fundraiser for the society's education efforts. For the last decade, it's been a more formal dress-up, sit-down dinner held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront honoring luminaries including documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and former Vice President Joe Biden.

This year it was a progressive party starting with Dogfish Head drinks and a toast at The Queen before the award presentation and then moving next door to the museum, where food, Dogfish Head beer and Dogfish spirits were spread through the museum and Old Town Hall. 
Read more here.

DHS Announces Delaware Burial Site Discovery

Avery’s Rest Reveals New Evidence of Lives in Colonial Delaware

Left to Right:  Dan Griffith, ASD, Tim Slavin, HCA, Dr. Owsley, NMNH. Photo by A. KimballWhat began as a survey before proposed development in 2005, turned into one of the most significant archeological discoveries in Delaware. In a packed press conference held at the Rehoboth Historical Society on December 6, 2017 Secretary of State Jeff Bullock introduced the panel of speakers including Tim Slavin, Historical and Cultural Affairs, Dan Griffith, Archeology Society of Delaware, Dr. Owsley, Head, Division of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Angela Winand, Head, Mitchell Center for African American Heritage & Diversity Programs.

Dan Griffith, who first mapped the site in 1976 as a possible place of historic significance, outlined the progression of discovery at Avery’s Rest, now located on land owned by Mr. and Mrs. Waymon Harmon, whom Griffith and the rest of the panel thanked for their permission to excavate the site.  Griffith also noted how the soil played an important part in pin-pointing the age of the burials as well as providing new details about the lives of these early settlers of Delaware.

Detail of “pipe facets” : Photo: Kate D. Sherwood Smithsonian InstitutionDr. Douglas Owsley gave a detailed description of the testing that he and his Smithsonian team have begun and the exciting details they’ve uncovered so far.  He made clear the stunning significance of the history contained in the well-preserved remains of the eleven mid-17th to early 18th century Delawareans discovered at Avery’s Rest, with bone and DNA analysis confirming three of the burials were people of African descent, born in America.  

“You’ve got to love teeth, they tell you so blooming much,” said Dr. Owsley. What those teeth seem to be telling Dr. Owsley and his team is that tooth decay made up 30% of the oral health problems in this small group, some of that decay eventually leading to their undoing.  Pipe smoking is clearly evident as well, with all seven of the males showing signs of “pipe facets” in their teeth.

Dr. Angela Winand_Delaware Historical Society_Photo by A. KimballDr. Angela Winand closed the press conference with the promise of continuing to work with the Archeological Society of Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the Smithsonian to create an interpretation of the discoveries at the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. “This archeological discovery is truly exciting,” said Dr. Angela Winand “and reminds us that the ancestors will always make themselves known to us if we listen. The stories of their sacrifices in life and remembrances in death are truly ‘written in bone’ for us to interpret, understand and honor.”




George Read II House named a National Historic Landmark

Please click here for more information.

Read House & Gardens

Read House_Hallway

Read House Kitchen_Photograph by Priscilla Smith


High Praise from Wilmington's new mayor, Mike Purzycki!

Mayor Mike Purzycki

According to an interview with New Market Wilmington, one of the mayor’s favorite places is the Delaware Historical Society! “One of the great gems of this state is the Delaware Historical Society. I think that is such a treasure sitting right in the middle of Market. And somehow, we have failed to accentuate it enough. The great thing about old architecture is that it imparts a sense of richness to your whole experience that you can't get in a new building. I don't care what mall you go to, it's still a mall. It's still glass and steel, it's cold, and there are no echoes on the past. When you go to that entire complex, you get a tremendous sense of our history and who we were and what was here. We want to make Market part of an historic tapestry which includes the Underground Railroad and all the shipbuilding and all of the economic activities that took place along Market for years, including the DuPont company. Those things are all part of what we are. I think everything down there has got to remind the visitor of what went on here.” Read more.


Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway's "Byway Bucks" Program

U.S. Representative Lisa Blun Rochester  Mayor-elect Mike Purzycki

Left to right: U.S. Representative-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester;
Mayor-elect Mike Purzycki

On Monday, November 21, 2016, the Delaware Historical Society hosted the kickoff for this year’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway’s “Byway Bucks” program in partners with the Small Business Administration and Deldot at the Delaware History Museum and Mitchell Center for African American Heritage.

Mayor-elect Mike Purzycki and U.S. Representative-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester spoke at the event, sharing their enthusiasm for the program and the ways that participants will support small businesses and Delaware’s economy.

The Delaware Historical Society is pleased to offer half-price admission to the Delaware History Museum with participants’ Byway Bucks and to support this initiative to promote Delaware history and small businesses. The “Byway Bucks” program was created for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which traces the routes of the Underground Railroad in Delaware.

“Byway Bucks” are coupons that give discounts to certain services and goods along the Byway route. “Byway Bucks” can also be used at any of the program’s supporters’ venues. For more information click here.




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The Delaware Historical Society is the statewide, non-profit organization that explores, preserves, shares, and promotes Delaware history, heritage, and culture to strengthen our community.