Posted by: Ed | April 24, 2015

Remembering World War I in Delaware

This week we honor Delaware Soldiers James Leo Harkins, Holton Atkinson Vance, and Charles B. Thompson.  On the warfront, Germany drives to the North Sea, Warships avoid the Panama Canal, and Switzerland stubbornly maintains neutrality.


For more soldiers from Delaware and Sunday Star clips, see past posts of Remembering WWI in Delaware

Posted by: Ed | April 22, 2015

Natural Philosophy for an Age of Science

“We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

-Thomas Edison

Almost 20 years before Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in 1879, this week’s Old Book was published. Natural Philosophy For The Use of Teachers and Schools was published in Dublin, Ireland in 1860. It contains precocious scientific observations concerning the qualities and applications of magnetism and electricity. The excerpts below include chapters, an index, and drawings (sometimes with amusing anthropomorphic figures) of various mechanisms.

About this blog:

Among the headlines one hundred years ago this week in Wilmington’s Sunday Star was a story of a successful bayonet charge by France. Despite the positive result of this bayonet attack, the extreme carnage of WWI resulted, largely, from the fact that military tactics were outdated compared to the destructive power of early 20th century mechanized weaponry. For example, mobile armored tanks, which first appeared in World War I, could incapacitate several men instantly. Nineteenth century military tactics, which were still widely employed, were no longer effective in limiting casualties against mechanized armaments.


For more soldiers from Delaware and Sunday Star clips, see past posts of Remembering WWI in Delaware

Posted by: Ed | April 15, 2015

Wilmington’s Gateway to Sports in 1943

In recognition of the start of a new Major League Baseball season, this week we spotlight a pamphlet published in the middle of World War II entitled Game Time. This 8 x 12 inch booklet highlights key sports teams and activities in Wilmington, Delaware. The lion’s share of attention is given to the Blue Rocks baseball team as they begin their 1943 season. Also included are The Wilmington Bombers basketball team, the University of Delaware Blue Hens football team, the local press, and three star boxers.


About this blog:

In just over eight months since the beginning of the Great War, Germany has already suffered 2 million military casualties, including 800,000 combatant deaths according to French sources; a staggering number compared to modern society’s conception of ‘acceptable’ losses.

Our honored Delaware soldiers this week are Chief Cook John Joseph Keegan, Navyman Edwin Nelson Paynter, and Sergeant William Thomas Richardson.

Chief Cook John Joseph Keegan of 626 W. 5th Street in Wilmington

For posts of Remembering World War I in Delaware from September through March, see:


“Still Life in Spring” painted in 2012 by Stacye L. Williamson (DHS collection, gift of the artist)

This Spring, as the Society explores the multi-faceted and colorful history of food as part of our “Forks in the Road” themed programming, an unusual painting in our collection really brings the Read family’s dining preferences to life in an especially vibrant way. This painting, entitled “Still Life in Spring” is by University of Delaware student, New Castle native, and freelance artist, Stacye L. Williamson, and depicts a meal at George Read I’s table based on actual archaeological evidence excavated from the Read House property.

Done in the style of a Dutch still-life (a genre that would have been very familiar to eighteenth-century people), Ms. Williamson’s painting features historical dishes made from lamb, sturgeon, and oysters, accompanied by an apple, garden vegetables, and a bottle of wine. Evidence for all of these foods has been uncovered at the Read House and is now part of our extensive archaeological collections relating to the site. The same is true for the creamware ceramics and glass depicted in the painting, right down to the diamond pattern of the tumbler, painted wine glass, and basket weave rim of the apple dish. It is wonderful to see archaeology and art coming together like this to help flesh out our understanding of the past. This painting will be on display at the Read House and Gardens to enliven our historic foodways theme as part of our newly opened “Peek into Our Pantry” interpretive exhibit.


Posted by: Ed | April 8, 2015

This Old Book of Poetry by the Milford Bard

“Come, heavenly Muse, my humble harp inspire,

And on its strings, O breathe thy melting fire”

This week, we revisit the expansive spirit of one of Delaware’s most eminent literary figures, the poet John Lofland, known affectionately as The Milford Bard.  Below are excerpts from his 1828 publication  The Harp of Delaware; or, The Miscellaneous Poems of the Milford Bard.  The table of contents are provided, which show the breadth of his interestsFor those who enjoy poetry, this bard of Delaware, although no longer so well known as he was in Jacksonian America , is still deserving of recognition. Considerable nuance, melancholy, and aspirant nobility permeate his thought.  The Harp of Delaware is 212 pages and is the physical size, roughly, of an apple 5s smart phone.  A sampling of poems from this tiny treasure appear below:

To the Duellist; What Is Charity; Ingratitude; Triumph of Genius; Bandits Cave; Hope; The Bride; What is Love; and Melancholy


For past posts of This Old Book, click

One hundred years ago this week, the Great War continues unabated, indifferent to the Jewish celebration of Passover and the Christian feast of Easter in 1915. We honor Private Henry Treml, Navyman Frank Gifford Tallman, Jr., and Sergeant Pinkus B. Kanophy in this post.

For a review of past post of Remembering WWI in Delaware, see:

Posted by: japotts | April 1, 2015

A Pedestrian Existence in Wilmington

walking medal pic

“1 Mile Walk” event medal presented to Charles Theodore Russell Bates (DHS collection, gift of Mrs. Bertha Bates Cole)

Did you know that the first Wednesday in April is “National Walking Day”? We tend to think of walking for entertainment as a relatively modern concept, but competitive walking, or “pedestrianism,” was one of the most popular sports in America during the 1870s and 1880s. It is said to have all started in 1860, when a Providence, Rhode Island book publisher named Edward Payson Weston, made a bet with a friend on the outcome of the 1860 Presidential election. Payson, the loser, forfeited by having to walk from the State House in Boston all the way to Washington DC to see the inauguration. Although he didn’t quite make it in time, this feat generated a great deal of excitement and publicity, and spawned a whole nation-wide craze for competitive walking events of various distances, complete with star athletes, crowds of spectators, food, music, and even betting.

Most major towns and cities hosted their own walking events and Wilmington was no exception. A silver medal awarded to Wilmingtonian, Charles Theodore Russell Bates (1871-1895), in 1889 for a “1 Mile Walk” event at the Warren Athletic Club is a wonderful relic of America’s forgotten pedestrian past. Charles, the son of George Handy and Elizabeth Ballister Russell Bates, was a star student, Harvard graduate, and keen athlete. Of the many sports and activities he participated in, it seems that competitive walking was one of his favorites because he won a number of medals for it, which are now part of our collection. By the turn of the century, interest in pedestrianism as a sport began to wane as it was gradually overtaken by cycling and other sports. Nevertheless, our medals from its golden age are a reminder that Spring is finally here. Get out there and enjoy!


Posted by: Ed | April 1, 2015

Don Quixote

Our Old Book today, which I was delighted to find resting comfortably in the DHS’s smorgasbord of rarities, is the famous tale of an errant knight and his stalwart servant, Sancho, who are, in a roundabout way, prototypes for Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins and his loyal, salt of the earth friend, Samwise in Lord of The Rings.  Don Quixote was written in 1605 in Spain by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It  is popularized in the 1960’s musical Man of La Mancha,  (the ‘man’ being actor Peter O’Toole).  Dreaming the Impossible Dream, Fighting the Unbeatable Foe, Bearing With Unbearable Sorrow. A tale worthy of its fame and a classic well suited to highlight on April Fools Day, in a good way.

For past posts of This Old Book, click

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