History Matters | Delaware First Media
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.


Lewes Historical Society

It was the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard and its tender boats grace the museums of the Lewes Historical Society (LHS) close to the Canal. Lewes was not only a shipbuilding capital but home to the rescue service that saved many an ailing seaman. 

Myna German

Little did we know that one fish – not even edible fed generations of Lewes Delaware seamen and their families.

Delaware Historical Society

 


Lewes is a city with a rich history for many reasons: it was founded in June of 1631 the first city in the First State, a key port for ships making their way to Philadelphia and even home to what historians claim is the home of the first shipyard owned by free African Americans.

Delaware Historical Society

The Delaware Historical Society recently offered community members an insider look at board games from their collection, and even gave them a chance to play some games.

Delaware Historical Society

Our two part History Matters on the history of the fight for women’s rights in the First State concludes this week with a conversation with leading women’s rights historian Anne Boylan, author of “The Origins of Women’s Activism,” about the role of Delaware women in the women’s suffrage movement.

Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly interviewed her in historic Warner Hall on the UD campus. The hall is named after Emalea Pusey Warner, who was part of the original Women’s College and is still used as an all-female student dormitory today.


History Matters: The Hall of Fame of Delaware Women

Apr 29, 2016
Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media

The Hall of Fame of Delaware Women was established in 1981 by the Delaware Commission for Women with the purpose of recognize the lasting contributions and achievements of Delaware women in a variety of fields.


via Fort Miles Historical Association

In this month’s History Matters – produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society – we check in on work being done at Cape Henlopen State Park to turn Fort Miles into a museum telling its unique World War II era story.

Fort Miles was a key part of the country’s coastal defense of the Delaware River during the Second World War, but by the late 50’s its usefulness had passed and in 1964 - 543 acres of the base were given to the State of Delaware, becoming part of Cape Henlopen State Park. In April 2005, Fort Miles was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In recent years, the Fort Miles Historical Association has worked to create a museum on the site, including procuring a 16 inch gun that was on the USS Missouri the day the Japanese surrendered to end World War II in 1945.  Saturday, a groundbreaking was held for the artillery park that will display that gun and others.   

Earlier this week, we caught up with Fort Miles Historical Association president Gary Wray for an update on their efforts.


In this month’s History Matters, produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society, we learn more about another Historical Society whose materials are housed at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington.

The Jewish Historical Society of Delaware was founded in 1974 with the goal of acquiring, preserving, and publishing material pertaining to the history of Jewish settlement and Jewish life in Delaware.

The Jewish Historical Society’s  president, Dan Kristol, and its archivist Gail Pietrzyk join us on this month’s History Matters to discuss the organization's mission and work.


History Matters: Voices of the Elders

Dec 18, 2015


This month’s History Matters - produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society - examines a series of short documentaries about prominent African Americans called Voices of the Elders presented by the Historical Society’s Center for African American Heritage.

History Matters: Brewing beer in Delaware

Oct 30, 2015
Karl Malgiero / Delaware Public Media


We explore the roots of Delaware's vibrant brewing culture in this month’s edition of History Matters, produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society.

Anne Hoffman/Delaware Public Media

 

This month’s History Matters - produced in collaboration with the Delaware Historical Society - offers interviews with this year’s recipients of the Historical Society’s annual Delaware’s History Makers award.

Bryan Stevenson was honored as a Delawarean who changed the course of history. He grew up in Milton and has fought to overturn or reduce death penalty sentences in more than sixty cases.

Courtesy of discoverfreedmen.org

In this month’s History Matters, produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society, we dig into efforts to digitize the Freedmen's Bureau. Established in 1865, the Bureau collected reams of documents about freed slaves, including who someone's master had been and where they had lived. But until now, those important documents have only existed on paper.

 


  

 

When the Supreme Court ruled in June that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, the decision effectively ended the country’s patchwork system regarding gay marriage. Although legal in Delaware since 2013, married gay couples in the First State faced the uncertainty of not knowing if their marriage would still be legal if they decided to move or even visit another state.  

Gay rights have progressed at such lightning speed in recent years; it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always the case. 

History Matters: Delaware's Gay Beach

Jul 24, 2015

In the first of this month’s two part History Matters - produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society and other history organizations in the First State, we offer you an oral history of the LGBTQ community’s roots in Rehoboth. In part two next week, we’ll examine how that history served as the foundation for efforts to establish equal rights for that community in the First State.

 


Karl Malgiero/Delaware Public Media

They’re called Delaware’s Forgotten Folks.

 

In the second part of a two-part History Matters - produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society, we continue our in-depth look at the Nanticoke Tribe.


History Matters: Delaware's Forgotten Folks

Jun 5, 2015
Karl Malgiero/Delaware Public Media

They’re called Delaware’s Forgotten Folks.

 

For the next two editions of History Matters - produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Nanticoke Tribe. Part II is here.

History Matters: Colored Conventions

May 1, 2015

In this month’s History Matters, we examine a University of Delaware interdisciplinary academic project called Colored Conventions.

It's an effort to digitize the meeting minutes of the nation's first black meetings, conventions which took place between 1830 and until after the Civil War.

These minutes provide a glimpse into black leadership and life that has traditionally been hard to access – and just last weekend there was a symposium at the University of Delaware that brought together several different academics who study race, literature and American history to talk about it.


History Matters: Hagley Museum's “Unraveling Stories” exhibit

Mar 28, 2015
Delaware Public Media

Hooked rugs are an Anglo-American tradition that rose in popularity during the early nineteenth century

The “Unraveling Stories” Exhibit at the Hagley Museum spotlights one of these pieces, a huge hooked rug made during the 1940s by Nancy Dupont Reynolds Cooch.

History Matters: Unraveling Stories at Hagley Museum

Delaware Public Media heads to Hagley Museum to investigate a one-of-a-kind rug.

Delaware Public Media

History Matters digs into the Delaware Historical Society’s archives each month to explore connections between key people, places, and events in history and present-day news.

In this month’s History Matters, produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Public Media’s Anne Hoffman and Karl Malgiero examine Southbridge's history and the efforts of Southbridge Connects to bring it to life today.

History Matters digs into the Delaware Historical Society’s archives each month to explore connections between key people, places, and events in history and present-day news.

The Hagley Museum lies on a plot of land on the western bank of The Brandywine River just north of where it intersects with Route 141.

Pages