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Our Next Topic...

"Our Next Topic", the Lewes Historical Society's 2021 online Course offering, was an in-depth scholarly exploration and explanation of multiple social, cultural, and historical topics of the United States and the Delmarva Region.

This educational opportunity was offered in an online format, with nine one-hour classes occurring Wednesday mornings at 10:00 a.m., February 17th – April 21st, 2021. 

Participants learned how local artifacts, events, and ideas frequently connect as touchstones to national history.

Instructors (link below) included knowledgeable and experienced LHS staff, each with their own portfolios of research and unique experience within the fields of architecture, design, curation, interpretation, and public history.

The 2021 program created a deeper appreciation for the preservation and presentation of a shared past embodied by artifacts, events, and ideas surrounding Sussex surviving from the past into the present day.   

Meet the Presenters


Class 1Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, 10 a.m.

That Looks So Familiar: The Architecture of Lewes, Delaware”

Presenter: James Abbott

“That Looks So Familiar: The Architecture of Lewes, Delaware” — will lead attendees on a visual tour of Lewes architecture, starting with the late-17th century’s Ryves Holt House. It will identify trends associated with both European and burgeoning American design lexicons, while exploring beyond the generalizing “Victorian” classification assigned to the majority of surviving 19th-century structures, clarifying Greek, Italianate, Elizabethan, Gothic, and Renaissance revival influences. It will conclude with explorations of the early and late Colonial revival movements, which were intertwined with both the centennial celebration of American Independence and the nation’s Isolationist cloistering following the first world war. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 2Wednesday, February 24th, 2021, 10 a.m.

“City/Country: Reflections on the American Scene Through the Fine Art of Printmaking”

Presenter: Ann Shafer

“City/Country: Reflections on the American Scene Through the Fine Art of Printmaking” — will explore the identification, rendering, and celebration of a truly American scape — rural and urban — in printmaking, from the Ash Can School through the Great Depression of the 1930s. Ann Shafer will touch upon the development of a uniquely American artistic voice from c. 1900 up through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), with emphasis given to the works of John Sloan (1871-1951); George Bellows (1882-1925); Joseph Pennell (1857-1926); John Taylor Arms (1887-1953); Martin Lewis (1880-1962); Reginald Marsh (1898-1954); and Isabel Bishop (1902-1988). Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 3 – Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, 10 a.m.

“Elected Pomp: The Tastes of Our Presidents”

Presenter: James Abbott

“Elected Pomp: The Tastes of Our Presidents” — will focus upon how American presidents have personally transformed the official backdrop for the most powerful office in the land, sometimes strategically bridging the extremes of monarchical finery with common man sensibility. From clothing to interiors, from means of transportation to means of dining, presidents have commissioned artists, artisans, and designers to formulate symbols representative of power, authority, and idealism. Specifically, James Abbott will look at architecture, portraiture, and decorative arts and how they have been tailored — successfully and otherwise — over two-hundred-plus years to convey both national agenda and personal ambition. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 4 - Wednesday, March 10th, 2021, 10 a.m. (Postponed to Wednesday, April 21st, at 10 a.m.)

“Viral Vessels & Medical Mitigation at the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station”

Presenter: Abigail Davis

“Viral Vessels & Medical Mitigation at the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station” — will cover the 42-year lifespan of the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station at present-day Cape Henlopen State Park and will expound upon the importance of national intervention for mitigating historical epidemics, reflect upon cases of yellow fever, cholera, smallpox and similar contagions on sailing vessels at the breakwater, and connect historical maritime records of local instances to widespread illness at a national level. Positioned advantageously at the gateway to the Delaware Bay & River, the Station was an essential cog in a network of marine hospital service meant to diminish the spread of disease. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 5Wednesday, March 17th, 2021, 10 a.m. 

“Escape from Enslavement: Journey to Freedom in the Delmarva Region, Prior to 1850”

Presenter: Jose Marcos Salaverria

“Escape from Enslavement: Journeys to Freedom in the Delmarva Region, Prior to 1850” — will share three early19th-century slave narratives. These rare and valuable historic accounts contain descriptions of enslaved individuals’ difficulties in their respective efforts to secure freedom. Participants will gain not only insight into the emotional and physical investments made by these freedom seekers but also an understanding of how their individual experiences fed the Abolitionist movement before the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and the Civil War. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 6Wednesday, March 24th, 2021, 10 a.m.

“SAFE: A History of American Preservation”

Presenter: James Abbott

“SAFE: A History of American Preservation” — will present a general history of America’s efforts to preserve its material past. With nods to political and social reforms and movements over two centuries, it will examine both individual preservation efforts, beginning with the saving of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and monumental restoration endeavors, such as the recreation of Colonial Williamsburg. It also will explore the idea of restoration as both a community builder and divider, while providing national context for the saving of much of Lewes, Delaware’s architectural gems. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 7Wednesday, March 31st, 2021, 10 a.m.

“How Cookbooks Tell Our History”

Presenter: Denise Clemons

“How Cookbooks Tell Our History” — will look at how cookbooks helped advance the cause of women’s suffrage and how cookbooks have carved out a role in the digital world. Denise Clemons will take participants on a journey through history, illustrated by cookbooks from a range of time periods. From hieroglyphics to a 17th-century celebrity chef to the first cookbooks published in the American colonies, the content and format of cookbooks offer insight into cultural evolution. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 8Wednesday, April 7th, 2021, 10 a.m.

“Going among the English Sailors’: American Tars Serving in the Royal Navy, 1813”

Presenter: Andrew Lyter

"Going among the English Sailors’: American Tars Serving in the Royal Navy, 1813” — will explore the diverse demographics of British naval crews, specifically illuminating the experiences of American sailors who served on the HMS Belvidera, HMS Poictiers, and HM Paz and helped ensure their naval success on the Delaware Bay bombarding Lewes in 1813. The Royal Navy will be presented through a new lens, highlighting the complex relationships American seafarers had with naval service during this tumultuous period. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


 Class 9Wednesday, April 14th, 2021, 10 a.m.

“John J. Raskob’s ‘elaborate library’ at Archmere”

Presenter: Bill Meehan

“John J. Raskob’s ‘elaborate library’ at Archmere” — will explore John J. Raskob’s taste and technique in book collecting while illustrating the architectural style of his library at Archmere, the 15th-century Florentine villa he built on 70-acres along the banks of Delaware River that is now a private secondary school. Raskob, the secretary to DuPont executive P. S. duPont who became a vice president of the company and later led the construction of the Empire State Building, lived in a glorious age of American antiquarian book collecting and had the financial resources to hunt for rarities, but he remained an amateur bibliophile who formed a library consisting of visually appealing volumes in every imaginable subject all unified by their gorgeous bindings. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.

 Class 4 - Wednesday, April 21st, 2021, 10 a.m. (Postponed from Wednesday, March 10th to Wednesday, April 21st, at 10 a.m.)

“Viral Vessels & Medical Mitigation at the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station”

Presenter: Abigail Davis

“Viral Vessels & Medical Mitigation at the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station” — will cover the 42-year lifespan of the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station at present-day Cape Henlopen State Park and will expound upon the importance of national intervention for mitigating historical epidemics, reflect upon cases of yellow fever, cholera, smallpox and similar contagions on sailing vessels at the breakwater, and connect historical maritime records of local instances to widespread illness at a national level. Positioned advantageously at the gateway to the Delaware Bay & River, the Station was an essential cog in a network of marine hospital service meant to diminish the spread of disease. Question-and-answer period to follow the talk.


Cost:

$175 - 9 total classes

$25 - Per single class (1 class)

*Course sizes are limited to 50 people, per course.