Delaware Public Media

History Matters

Monthly during The Green
  • Hosted by

History Matters digs into Delaware's past each month to explore connections between key people, places, and events in history and present-day news.  It's produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society with help from partners at the Delaware Public Archives, Hagley Museum and the Lewes Historical Society

Ways to Connect

Delaware Public Media

250 years ago, “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies” were published.

The series of 12 letters appeared throughout the winter of 1768 in colonial newspapers, laying out the Colonies’ common cause against The British Crown and Parliament in an effort to create unifying message to rally around.

The man behind those letters, simply signed “ A Farmer,” was John Dickinson, a well-educated lawyer with Quaker beliefs who called Kent County – then a part of Pennsylvania – his home.  For this work, Dickinson would earn the title of “Penman of the Revolution.”

To mark the letters’ 250th anniversary – the State of Delaware has created a website and will offer a variety of Dickinson related events and programs over the coming months.

In this month’s History Matters, produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society,  Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne visited the John Dickinson Plantation to chat with with Vertie Lee,  historic interpreter at the Plantation, and Doug Denison from the Department of State to discuss Dickinson, his letters and the state’s plans to celebration the anniversary of their publication.

History Matters: How the pumpkin became popular

Oct 27, 2017
Cindy Ott

It’s that time of year again – the time for hayrides, pumpkin patches, and pumpkin carving. But among the pumpkin frenzy, not much thought is typically given to the history of the pumpkin itself.

University of Delaware Professor of History and Material Culture Cindy Ott delved into the pumpkin’s complicated past for her book, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon.


For this month’s History Matters, produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly sat down with her to discuss how the pumpkin’s image has shifted over the years from a vegetable of last resort to the pie of preference in many homes for Thanksgiving dinner.


History Matters: Historic home makes Airbnb debut

Sep 29, 2017
Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media

Many people are likely aware of Airbnb: providing travelers the option to rent a room in someone else’s home – or guesthouse – as opposed to staying in a hotel or traditional bed and breakfast. It’s a popular option across the country, and in the First State.


One Wilmington home listed on Airbnb is also on the National Register of Historic Places – and likely one of the oldest homes remaining in the city, built around 1745. It’s undergone several transformations over the years, but was largely restored to its original state in the 1970s. In 1990, it made the cover of Early American Life magazine.


Last December, the West Center City home was purchased by Jan and Dave Almquist for $99,000. Before putting it on Airbnb this March, they made about $50,000 worth of upgrades.


Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly spoke with Jan about the home, and its historical significance.

Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media

A number of historic buildings – from the Thomas England House, to Summerton Mansion in Middletown – have been demolished in recent months.


Historic preservation advocates are rallying to change that, and nonprofit Preservation Delaware is willing to help organize such efforts in the First State.

Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly sat down with the group’s Executive Director James Hanby.

Henry Szymanski Collection / Delaware Historical Society

March’s History Matters featured an image of Estella’s Beauty Shop on Wilmington's East Side from 1939.  Here in April, we focus on the man behind that photo and hundreds of others and the memories they evoke.



History Matters: Beauty Shop Politics in Wilmington

Mar 31, 2017
Szymanski Collection / Delaware Historical Society

This month’s History Matters, produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society, was inspired by University of Delaware Black Studies professor Tiffany Gill’s book - “Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry.”


Dr. Gill explores how self-employed African American beauticians played an often-underground role in the Civil Rights movement.  For example - having NAACP pamphlets and other similar mail sent secretly to their under-the-radar storefronts.

Gill’s primary focus is on beauty shops in the South, but we wondered if shops locally played a similar role.

To find out, Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly spoke with Wilmington residents and local historians about their recollections of – and research into - Delaware’s beauty shop industry.


Courtesy Roger Horowitz

Delawarean and food historian Roger Horowitz knows a thing or two about food - including kosher foods.

Friends of Brandywine Springs


Brandywine Springs Park in New Castle County may look like a common park, but it has a rich – and unique - past: as both home to natural springs and an old historic amusement park during the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly takes us back in time to learn what the park was like then in this month's History Matters, produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society.



Delaware Historical Society

There was a time on the Delmarva Peninsula when passenger trains took people up and down the spine of the First State.

Hagley Museum & Library

During the industrial revolution and into the WWII era and beyond, shipbuilding played a key role in the evolution of industry and livelihood in Wilmington.


While the shipyards that dotted the waterfront are no longer in existence, the dockyard culture is still alive and well through the Kalmar Nyckel’s crew that maintains and sails a 1600s model ship for tourists and educational purposes.


In this month’s History Matters - produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation - Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly tells us more about the history of shipbuilding in Wilmington.