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.

LIT for the Holidays: The Season In Miniature with the First State Mini Club

This year’s LIT for the Holidays carried on a long tradition of festive holiday celebrations at the George Read II House & Gardens. 

Vocal Point a cappella performance at LIT for the Holidays 2023

“The Season in Miniature” celebrates the holiday spirit in partnership with the First State Mini Club, which provided twenty miniature rooms intricately designed and decorated for the season. Highlights include a “street” of miniature shops inspired by the writings of Jane Austen and a replica of the Read House interiors, crafted from gingerbread by talented Joe Daigle, 2022 Winner of the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown.

Visit the Read House & Gardens to see the Mini Club exhibits and the Read House in all its holiday splendor Thursday-Sunday, December 10, 2023 – January 6, 2024. Guided tours for up to 10 people occur on the hour from 11:00-4:00, with the last tour beginning at 3:00 p.m.

The season kicked off December 9 with our annual extravaganza, which incorporated time-honored traditions and unconventional surprises. Guests were treated to caroling by the University of Delaware’s a cappella group Vocal Point and a holiday buffet featuring foods from around the globe, including Thai cucumber salad, French Provençale tarts, and Greek melomakarona cookies. 

Everything that the Delaware Historical Society achieves is made possible by our donors. Through your generous support, DHS is experiencing great momentum, with an array of new and exciting partnerships and ventures on the horizon. 

Many thanks to all who have supported our important mission and work.

View the full list of donor here.

FALL into Delaware History

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Algonkian Living Historian Drew Shuptar-Rayvis captivated the crowd at DHS’ Family and Community Day, held at Read House & Gardens on November 5. The advocate for Native culture and preservation introduced participants to everyday artifacts and discussed how they’re used by archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists to uncover the stories of the past. Family and Community Days provide engaging quarterly programming and activities for local families and youth. 

Be sure to check out the next Family and Community Day, The Art of Ed Loper, on February 17, 2024.

On November 30, author and historian Edward G. Gray spoke to a full house at the Delaware History Museum & Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. Gray’s new book, Mason-Dixon: Crucible of the Nation, is a dramatic story of imperial rivalry and settler-colonial violence, the bonds of slavery and the fight for freedom. 

This event was hosted in partnership with Hiro & Huxley Booksellers, where DHS members receive 10% off purchases. Not a member? Join today!

Mark your calendars now for our next book discussion with Hiro & Huxley on January 20: “10 Things You Might Not Know About Delaware History,” featuring author and lecturer Dave Tabler.


Elders Forum - A Community Conversation

Join us at the Delaware Historical Society’s Mitchell Center for African American Heritage on December 27th for an engaging conversation about cultural traditions, Kwanzaa through the years, and how to maintain community. This event is produced in partnership with the Culture Restoration Project. Light refreshments will be provided. Click here for more information.

The Delaware Historical Society recently announced our new and improved membership program!


  • Unlimited admission to the Delaware History Museum, Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, and the National Historic Landmark Read House & Gardens
  • Discounts and perks at local restaurants and businesses
  • Special invitations to lectures, tours, and members-only events
  • Discounted fees for selected classes, programs, and events
  • Subscriptions to the Delaware History Journal and Making History magazine
  • 15% off space rentals
  • At Sustaining Level and above: Free admission to nearly 1,500 organizations in the North American Reciprocal Museum Association Learn more about NARM here.
  • At Delaware 250th Society Level and above: 25% off all research services

To learn more about membership benefits and join today,

visit dehistory.org/membership


Antoinette Maccari-Klingsberg

Meet Antoinette Maccari-Klingsberg, the Education & Visitor Services Manager and National History Day Coordinator at DHS! 


Antoinette supervises and trains the Delaware History Museum & Mitchell Center for African American Heritage’s Museum Ambassadors and develops and updates educational programming for schools. She’s currently revising Delaware’s African-American Heroes and Underground Railroad programs based on updated information. “You come across new research, and the history changes,” she said.  


Antoinette also coordinates the state-wide National History Day program, a year-long, interdisciplinary project culminating in a state competition in May. This spring, it will be hosted at Delaware State University in Dover on May 4.  “I love getting to see what the current scholarship is from middle and high schoolers,” Antoinette said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the fruits of the labor of all the students who are working so hard.” 

Antoinette is focused on the future of the educational programming at DHS, but she has a long history with the organization. She previously worked with DHS from 2004-2014 as a museum educator, educational assistant, Read House & Gardens Education Coordinator, and Chief Education Curator before leaving to pursue her Masters of Education and Special Education K-12 from Wilmington University.  


“I love teaching Delaware history, and I love our collections,” Antoinette said of DHS. “It’s the only Delaware collection where you’ll find such a vast amount of archives, buildings, and objects.” 

With an undergraduate degree in American History from the University of Delaware, Antoinette is a self-described museum and history nerd. “I make use of that NARM membership 2-3 times a month!” she said. “Historic house museums are some of my favorites.” Her ‘must-visit’ travel bucket list includes the Frida Kahlo house and museum in Mexico and a Loire River Valley Cruise in France.


When she’s not spearheading educational programming or planning her next trip, you can find Antoinette volunteering to conduct cemetery tours at Old Swedes, planning events with the New Castle Community Partnership, diving into her own family history with the Daughters of the American Revolution, or wrangling her “big, blended family” of four kids, two dogs, and a guinea pig.  


Did you catch this post?

Be sure to follow Delaware Historical Society on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on events and get an inside look at some of the objects from our collections!

Pictured is a horse-drawn delivery wagon of the Attalus Donocho Coffee and Teas company en route along the Brandywine River, ca. 1912-1917.

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If you were shopping for Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hannukah gifts or some wine for your New Year’s Eve celebration 208 years ago, the paper money pictured in this segment is likely the legal tender you’d have been handling to get your goodies in northern Delaware.

The DHS has an eclectic collection of bank notes from bygone eras. Cash from the past. Greenbacks from way back. Recently, a local currency expert stopped in to sift through the DHS manuscript and microfilm collection to find clues about how and why paper money was printed and what it looked like in the early 1800s.

The War of 1812 led to a severe shortage in circulating coinage in Delaware and elsewhere. To stabilize the local economy, substitute paper money was printed and guaranteed for redemption by the Borough of Wilmington. The cash you see here was printed in 1815. The notes mark a range of “cents” which will sound strange to modern ears since cents are now always coins. But cash for coin was the point. The paper money served as a temporary surrogate for hard-to-find coinage and was fully guaranteed at the Bank of Delaware and the Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine by the Borough of Wilmington. The most commonly circulated was the 5 cent which was a little over $1 by today’s standard.

The featured notes are derived from a bound manuscript in the DHS archives. The item ID is Archival Pak 51, rare collections vault. The volume covers just under a hundred years of Wilmington city town ordinances, 1739-1830.

The small illustrations at the top of the notes all have a meaning. The 5 cent note was the most common in circulation. You’ll see a little beehive at the top with bees buzzing around it. The idea is that a town is like a beehive and citizens all contribute to its construction and well being. The ships atop the 6 ¼ and 12 ½ cent notes reflect the importance of commerce along the Delaware River. The ram of the 50 cent note represents Spanish merino sheep, which became popular in the Brandywine Valley in the early 19th century due to their fine fleece. The ram image could be meant to portray “Don Pedro,” the first ram purchased by the E. I du Pont before 1805.

So, how does one find items like this at DHS? Our ever-expanding online catalog is a good first step, followed by working directly with a collections staff member, who’ll locate and bring the item to you in the research library for an up-close view or, if requested and possible, provide an electronic version of a specific excerpt via email.

College word of the day: Numismatics. The study or collection of various forms of currency, mainly coins, precious metals and paper money.


The full membership of DHS was invited to our Annual Meeting which was held on November 30. Those in attendance learned of our significant accomplishments over the past 12 months and of the new partnerships, programming and initiatives planned for the coming year. The membership also had the opportunity to vote for a slate of new Trustees to replace those who had completed their service. Welcome new Trustees Jerry Bilton, Anne Farley, Howard Kristol, Lewis Lazarus, Laura St. Martin, and Benjamin Wagner 


A group of Pullman Company Wilmington shop employees pose next to a Christmas tree with a miniature train at its base, ca. 1940s.

To view more items in our digital collections, CLICK HERE!

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