Monday, April 16, 2018

All my ducks in a row

For this one, bright, shining moment, I get to say that I have all my ducks in a row... but only because I have literal ducks in a row. Today the archives received a donation of ten waterfowl decoys created by Mr. Douglas A. Gibson '50.

Mr. Gibson has practiced his art form for more than 30 years and has received recognition at the Canadian Art Exposition and the Nur Temple. He has additionally been showcased at the Eastern Waterfowl Festival and the Ward Brothers Foundations' Best in the World Competition, both of which are "by invitation only" events. In 2004, he was invited to be the Delaware representative for waterfowl carving at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. When one sees his beautifully hand carved and painted birds, there's no question why.

Mr. Gibson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Arts from Delaware State College and a Master of Science degree in School Administration from the University of Delaware. He taught Architectural Design at Delaware Technical & Community College for more than 20 years. He is known for his design of the Delaware Agricultural Museum and several churches in Delaware and Maryland.

The decoys will be made available for viewing and research.  The birds depicted are:

  • Mallard Drake, 2018
  • Canada Goose, 2016
  • Bald Pate Widgeon, 2004
  • Canvas Back Drake, 2008
  • Shoveler, 1993
  • Scaup Blue-Bill, 2001
  • Mallard Hen
  • Carolina Wood Duck, 2014
  • Green Wing Teal-Drake, 2008
  • Green Wing Teal-Hen, 2013

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Prettyman Family collection now fully processed

Hey Y'all! Check out the Prettyman Family collection finding aid!

The Prettymans are a legacy family who have been in attendance at Delaware State University for more than three generations!!  In 2011 Noble W. Prettyman donated a collection of records and artifacts saved by his paternal grandmother, Effie Aiken Prettyman (class of 1913), his mother Katherine Deshields Prettyman (class of 1933), and brother, James A. Prettyman (class of 1969). Although the collection has received some processing treatments in the past, I gave it some needed TLC.

The collection is unique by virtue of the fact that items from the 1910s can be compared to the 1960s and beyond! Here one can research a family's shared past and yet see differences in their experiences. The collection can also be distinguished from others at the DSU Archives because it contains a significant number of three-dimensional artifacts. Within the collection are found vintage clothing, promotional buttons, event programs, and photograph albums.

Personally, I am most fascinated by an album of created by Katherine Deshields Prettyman between 1917 and 1930. The majority of photographs within show happy students posing on the campus of the State College for Colored Students. I love the fashions! If it were not for the clothing, I could imagine these people were on the campus today. For me, it is fun to see a picture of two girls standing on the steps of Conrad hall (above) and know that  I can go stand in the same place.

The Prettyman Family collection is available for public research and can be viewed in the William C. Jason Library between 8 and 4 Monday through Friday.  You are always welcome!
The first pages of Katherine DeShields Prettyman's photo album contains notations about the subject matter of the photographs. So often today, historic photographs are not labeled and it's impossible to know who or what is pictured. I'm glad she took time to record these memories.  

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day 2018

In honor of International Women's Day I'd like to an editorial entitled "The Evolution of Woman"written by Cecie E. Parker, the librarian of the State College for Colored Students.  Ms. Parker's editorial appeared in The Echo from April 13, 1910.  As a woman in possession of a bachelors and masters degree, and as an employee of Higher Education, I'm grateful to the women who came before me. I salute those who courageously stepped forward to earn and defend a woman's right to higher education.  More specifically, thank you to Ms. Parker, my librarian kinswoman. 

"The college woman of today has exploded many old theories regarding higher education for her sex...And while she had a long and up hill fight against the deep seated prejudice for equal opportunities, yet she has proved that the increased advantages of the present century, have made her not less but more normal, sensible, lovable and essentially feminine." - Cecie E. Parker in 1910. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New exhibit now open! DSU Aviation and the Tuskegee Airmen

Did you know that the DSU aviation program started in 1939? Did you also know that one of the graduates became a Tuskegee Airman? Come learn all about it from the newly installed exhibit DSU Aviation and the Tuskegee Airmen. 

The exhibit seeks to cast light on the lesser known facts of the university's aviation program as well as individuals with connections to both the university and aviation industry.  This includes our former president, Luna I. Mishoe, who unbeknownst to many, was an intelligence photographer with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II!  Exhibit visitors will additionally learn about Brigadier General Ernest Talbert (USAF retired), Senior master sergeant Henry L. Smith, and Dr. Daniel E. Coons founder of the DSU airway science program. 

The exhibit's contents include items on loan from the DSU aviation program and the featured individuals, as well as historic photographs from the DSU archives collections. The exhibit will run through the end of the spring semester and is open to the public.  If you stop by, please be sure to sign the guestbook by thanking General Talbert, SMSgt Smith, Dr. Coons, and President Mishoe for their military service. 

Have you ever wanted to play with the buttons in a cockpit? Come try it out! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Founder's Day 2018

Good Morning Friends,

I wish to invite you to the annual Founder's Day celebrations to be held on February 8, 2018 in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center at 11 a.m. The program will include a showing of the recently released documentary, "A Legacy of Opportunity: The History of Delaware State University." The event is open to the public, so I hope that you will join us in honoring where we have come from and where we, as a university, hope to go in the future.

For questions, please contact Brenda F. Farmer, Executive Director of University Events and Ceremonies at 302-857-6082 or

Thursday, January 18, 2018

DSU Documentary released

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the documentary has been removed from YouTube. However,  you can still catch the film on PBS (Channel 12 and 512 Philadelphia). It will air as follows:

February 16th, 5 p.m.

February 18th, 2:30 p.m.

February 19th, 
5 p.m.


I have exciting news for the Hornet community! Over a year ago, the Delaware Humanities Forum commissioned a documentary to be produced by my good friends at 302 Stories Inc. The project was initially spawned in recognition of the university's 125th anniversary and serves to examine the struggles and growth of this university during that time.

The film heavily features archival photographs that were taken from the university archives.  I am so proud of the work that has been done by my predecessors, my fellows, and myself that made this project possible.  Without having exhaustive collection descriptions for photographic materials, I would not have been able to facilitate this project with the ease that I did.  Thank you to all who played a vital role in the development of this repository!

Having seen the final product, I hope you will agree with me that the archival holdings featured are a credit to this university and were displayed in a beautiful, and compelling manner.  Many congratulations and thanks to Jeanne and Mike at 302 Stories for telling our story.

Monday, January 15, 2018

MLK Day and Musings of Samuel L. Conwell on January 15, 1898

Today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we reflect on the history of race in the United States, the struggle for equality, and the lives of Dr. King and others who paid too high a price.  I hope that you will join me in contemplating the current racial tensions in this country and praying that we, as individuals and as a nation, may find a way toward unity.

Last week I stumbled upon some very apropos musings written by Samuel L. Conwell on this exact day, 120 years ago.  As an instructor, and as the secretary to President William C. Jason, Mr. Conwell was central to the early development and survival of this university.  In the passage from January 15, 1898, transcribed below, Mr. Conwell describes his viewpoints about the economic disparities between races which he believed were compounded by educational disparity.
“January 15, 1898, Business side of life needs to be cultivated more and more among our people. If we would but improve in finance, as we ought. It is marvelous how we loose because we are in want of such training, and it is wonderful the progress other races are making because of their knowledge of business. And indeed by degrees we are gaining daily in the new vocation of our existence.  We need to save money thus to be able to act when opportunity presents itself. Many of us would be in business had we the capital and many more of us would have capital if we had been taught and practiced economy. To know how and when to spend a dollar is one of the secrets of success. It takes years for a people to learn all these things and apply them as we should. Careful management of what we have and an industrious habits  - which enable us to get more will eventually bring us to the place we may live in what is called 'easy circumstances'.  So may we be prompted by the proper and honest motives to improve our opportunities in this important task. Yours truly, S. L. Conwell"
I wish that I could go back in time to be a fly on the wall in the lives of people like Mr. Conwell and President Jason.  What must they have experienced as highly intelligent men living in the time between the civil war and the civil rights movement?  Did they feel blessed as compared to their black peers, or did they feel trapped by the conventions of society? Both? How much more might they have accomplished if they lived in a fairer world? I also wish that I could know what Mr. Conwell meant by "easy circumstances." To what does he refer? A life of leisure? Material possessions? Fair treatment by white society?

Whatever the case, I am sure that Mr. Conwell would be proud of what this institution has become and the standing it has attained as a business entity.  I believe he would take pleasure in knowing that its students are multinational and competitive in their chosen fields. He would also appreciate the diversity of subjects and vocations taught here, not the least of which being business and economics.

I hope that in the progress of time, Delaware State University, and our nation in general, will continue to strive for equality, success, and greater opportunity for all its people. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Book of handwritten college notes and musings by Samuel L. Conwell recorded between 1896 and 1900