Current Society News -

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.”





Delaware Historical Society announces David W. Fleming to serve as Interim CEO

David Fleming

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.