New Castle, Delaware, was founded in 1651 by the Dutch as Fort Casimir. It was built to purposely pose a threat to the Swedish colony that had been established in the Wilmington area in 1638. The Swedes captured the town in 1654 and renamed it Fort Trinity but the Dutch quickly took the town back the next year. In 1663 it became part of the English colonies in the New World and was named New Amstel, and in 1664 the name was changed to New Castle. Other than a brief period in 1673 when it became Dutch again, it remained under English control until 1776.
Its location had much to do with its early success. New Castle was a port city on the Delaware River and was the landing point for the 14 mile journey overland to the Chesapeake Bay. It was the center of government for the Three Lower Counties on the Delaware River and served as the first seat of Delaware’s government upon the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
Now, this new exhibition located on the stage of The Bookshop in Old New Castle, also the second floor of Oak Knoll, will represent all aspects of New Castle life and history. (Even Oak Knoll’s building is historic as it was once the Opera House where many famous singers and actors performed!) Historical books on the city such as our recently published New Castle, Delaware: A Walk Through Time will be showcased, and other glimpses of the city will be featured in the books including:
- Local businesses and town organizations: Armitage Inn (no longer an inn), Goodwill Fire Company, church history, Day in Old New Castle
- Local people: Robert Montgomery Bird (author born at 212 Delaware Street), George Read (signer of the Declaration), Richard S. Rodney (Judge and Mayor of New Castle).
- Publishing in New Castle: New Amstel Magazine, Paul Wakeman’s private press called the Plough Press which printed a book by hand in a New Castle garage.
- Images: New Castle Whipping Post, Beers Atlas plates showing New Castle
- And the beautifully printed private press book by Miriam Macgregor including her pochoir plates illustrating New Castle scenes. Inspired by her visit to New Castle during an Oak Knoll Fest
Click here for a catalogue of the books that will be on exhibition.
Check out a great review of Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts posted on Nigel Beale’s blog Nota Bene Books. In his review he says, “Though a stronger case than the one outlined can be made for e-books (what they will be capable of, how they will be able to record unique responses), and the importance of marginalia overstated (surely a notebook is a more efficient, capacious recorder of reader response and, as such, more valuable), Books as History ‘highlights an important aspect of the life of books in the context of the ongoing debate about their future,’ and as such, is well worth reading.” Thank you for an excellent review, Nigel! Click here to read more of the review, and click here to order Books as History.
Bob recently gave a presentation at the University of Delaware titled “The Gift that Keeps Giving: Tales of Collectors and Their Library Beneficiaries in America.” The speech covered many collectors including A. Edward Newton, Thomas Winthrop Streeter, Arnold Leibowitz, Josiah Kirby Lilly, Jr., Thomas J. Wise, and more. Bob also discussed the responsibilities required by the collector in choosing a library to support his or her gift and the responsibilities of the library in encouraging collectors. Below are some photographs taken from the event, given to us by Susan Brynteson from the University of Delaware. Thanks, Susan!