Welcome to the DHS Insider, where you’ll get an inside look at some of the innovative and ambitious goings-on at the Delaware Historical Society (DHS) and meet some of the behind-the-scenes folks who make it all happen.


The Delaware Historical Society has selected Laura Earls, Ph.D., as the new Director of the George Read II House & Gardens in New Castle.

Laura, a museum professional and historian of gender and material culture in early America, most recently served as lead researcher and associate producer for an upcoming history podcast. She has worked in collections management and interpretation at institutions including the Nemours Estate, the Museum of the American Revolution, and the Winterthur Museum. Laura formerly served as a graduate assistant and contractor at Delaware Historical Society’s Research Library. When she's not thinking about public history, Laura enjoys crocheting and spending time with her husband and their dog.


Photographer Lynn Dilliplane posing at Landscapes of the Underground Railroad Opening Reception

Coinciding with Women’s History Month, DHS hosted a photography exhibition in Old Town Hall, “Landscapes of the Delaware Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway” by award-winning local photographer E. Lynn Dilliplane.

Nearly 100 people attended the opening reception on March 1st to view the photographs and learn more about Dilliplane and her work. The project began when Dilliplane’s friend, Debbie Martin, asked her to take a few photos of Rt 9, just south of the Reedy Point bridge, for the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware. The initial request led to an email with a list of historic spots along Harriet Tubman’s route and inspired Dilliplane and her husband to spend months exploring the route themselves and taking more photos along the way.

“We followed the map to all the places mentioned, walked through old cemeteries, visited old churches, hiked through woods on the trails, and walked the city streets,” Dilliplane said.

In all, she took 3,000 photos over 8 months, spent several months editing, and eventually narrowed the images down to the 80 in the exhibit.

“Traveling on this remarkable journey to freedom, walking in her footsteps, and meeting people who had stories of their families interacting with Harriet Tubman personally was a remarkable honor,” Dilliplane said.

Exhibit on display until APRIL 27th

DO MORE 24 DELAWARE was a huge success for nonprofit organizations statewide, and DHS is thrilled to announce that with the generous Board of Trustees’ Challenge, support from our members and friends, and sponsored prizes, we raised more than $9,000 during this year’s campaign. Thanks to your support, we were among the top 20 fundraising organizations out of 231 in our division, raising four times more than in 2023’s funding drive!


Read House & Gardens hosted two sold-out events the weekend of February 25th and 26th. Melissa Benbow, a PhD Candidate at the University of Delaware specializing in nineteenth century literature and history and a former Read House intern, presented a talk about her genealogical research on the Black community in Old New Castle paired with an accompanying walking tour.

While diving into census records and other historical documentation, Benbow identified locations that would have been central parts of life for Black residents of New Castle in the 18th and 19th centuries. After a presentation in the Read House parlor, the walking tour provided attendees with an up-close look at these sites to help put history into perspective.

Missed it?

You can take your own walking tour using this map.

Check out our upcoming events!

The City of Wilmington is proud to have been named a National World War II Heritage City, a designation that recognizes the City’s contributions on the home front during WWII and its commitment to preserving the history of its efforts.

The Delaware Historical Society contributed resources and documentation that supported Wilmington’s nomination, and we are excited to celebrate the City’s designation and highlight the industrious and collaborative work of Delawareans during WWII.

In March, DHS joined with Huxley & Hiro Booksellers to host “Against All Odds,” a book talk with local legend and WWII Air Force hero Ray Firmani and his biographer Mitch Topal. 


Firmani was just one of the many Delawareans whose bravery and effort was instrumental during the war years.

We want to share YOUR Delaware heroes – family, friends, loved ones, and neighbors who contributed to the war efforts at home or abroad. Submit a photo and brief description of your hero's experience.


Submit your heroes here to have them highlighted on our social media accounts and/or included in our WWII Heritage City Delaware's World War II Heroes site in the upcoming months. 


This ca. 1840 daguerreotype is the earliest photograph we have of Market Street in Wilmington.

Daguerreotypes, named for French inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, were the first commercially popular method of photography. Each daguerreotype is a single, one-of-a-kind image printed on a silvered copper plate.

Captured by J.E. Torbert, this image looks south from the west side of Market Street, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. It shows businesses including Washington Jones, Spencer Eves, J. McClung, and J. Morrow's Grocery and Confectionary.

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General Lafayette's Bicentennial Tour Celebration

Fall 2024 marks the Bicentennial of General Lafayette’s last visit to Delaware on his farewell tour of the United States. Gilbert du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, sailed from France at the outset of the American Revolution to fight under George Washington. He was wounded in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. He later coordinated French naval operations at the Battle of Rhode Island and commanded Continental Army troops at the decisive siege of Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, which secured American independence. Lafayette was appointed Commander in Chief of France’s National Guard after the storming of the Bastille and played a pivotal role in the French Revolution of 1789.

In 1824, President James Monroe invited Lafayette, then 67, to tour the United States. The great French hero and his entourage, including a son named George Washington Lafayette, were enthusiastically embraced by American cities including Wilmington and New Castle. His visit was heralded in all the major newspapers of the day, including the Delaware Gazette. A circular in the DHS collection describes a “merry peal of bells at Christ Church” upon Lafayette’s arrival in Staten Island, New York on the morning of August 15th, 1824.

Lafayette followed a circuitous route through Delaware, entering the First State in the north at Naaman’s Creek and traveling south through current Bellefonte, over a little bridge at Shellpot Creek (current Shipley Road), past a stone house he had stayed in during the Revolution at Brandywine Village (known as the Tatnall House), and over what is now Mayor James Sills, Jr. Bridge. His entourage meandered through bustling Wilmington down to the Christina River and back north on Market Street. He was finally welcomed at Old Town Hall after midday, where he was greeted with a sumptuous late lunch in the Long Room on the second floor, perhaps standing on the same wooden boards you can still see today.

Recently, a researcher from France visited the DHS Research Library looking for resources to create a walking tour in Old City Philadelphia honoring Lafayette’s visit. Among the documents we found is an original invitation to Lafayette by a newly created philanthropic group named the “Lafayette Asylum for Widows and Orphan Children,” with Lafayette’s handwritten response and signature. The October 8th, 1824 Mirror of the Times newspaper references the invitation, which is part of the DHS vault of rare documents.

On Sunday, October 6, 2024 The Delaware Historical Society, will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lafayette’s return to America in Old Town Hall, in partnership with The American Friends of Lafayette, Follow /check our website/etc for more details or more details coming soon…

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Welcome, Spring! This 1934 photo shows a young boy from the Board of Education gardening program, run by Violet L. Findlay, proudly showing off a large basket of flowers in a backyard garden on Mount Salem Lane in Wilmington.

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