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History Matters: Delaware Historical Society's new Executive Director Ivan Henderson

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Historical Society recently named Ivan Henderson as its new Executive Director.

In this edition of History Matters, Delaware Public Media’s Kyle McKinnon catches up with Henderson to discuss his new role and the challenges ahead.

Delaware Public Media’s Kyle McKinnon talks with the Delaware Historical Society's Ivan Henderson about his new role as Executive Director

The Delaware Historical Society has a new Executive Director.

Ivan Henderson took over on February 13 after being director of the Society’s Mitchell Center for African American Heritage since last April.

Henderson previously served as VP for Programming at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and the Curator of Education for the University of Delaware museum galleries.

Henderson believes those 10 months as director of the Society’s Mitchell Center for African American Heritage are a big help allowing him to work closely with the previous Executive Director to build connections.

Ivan Henderson headshot.jpg
The Delaware Historical Society
The Delaware Historical Society's new Executive Director Ivan Henderson

In his new role, Henderson says there is a clear top goal.

"We have a historic house, several buildings on the national register, and so protecting those buildings and considering these buildings as part of our collection but all of the photos, manuscripts, objects everything is our first job is to protect these things ad infinitum that they should be able to last forever for generations," said Henderson.

Even though he is the first person of color to be Executive Director at the Delaware Historical Society, he’s trying to play down that importance.

"Not that it's not important but it's sort of a dubious distinction. And as important as it is to symbolically get this appointment, I think it'll be more important in a year or two if I survived and done a couple of things well and helped improve the business model along with continuing to connect communities through truth-telling while also elevating undertold histories of all kinds including African American history," said Henderson.

Henderson notes as the country moves toward its 250th anniversary he believes there will be a more complete conversation than in the past with new voices and faces.

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Kyle McKinnon is a producer for The Green with a passion for storytelling and connecting with people.