University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 6, No. 1/1996
Museum team recreates 19th-century farm

     Only a team effort could be responsible for making the
Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village such a success, with
more than 23,000 visitors last year alone.
     Five women with UD ties-Hope Schladen, Jenifer Grindle
Dolde, Lorraine Goodman, Joyce Farmer and Kay Powell-run that
successful show in Dover, Del. Founded in 1980, the Delaware
Agricultural Museum and Village is a 10-acre, open-air museum
that offers visitors a chance to see an authentic, 19th-century
farm setting.
     Curator Dolde, Delaware '95, says the permanent and
temporary collections of the museum feature objects ranging from
a crop duster to the world's first broiler chicken house.
     "Our collection goes hand in hand with education. It's a
commitment," says Schladen, director of the museum and a former
student in UD's museum studies program. Schladen and Goodman,
Delaware '75, have intensified the already educational focus of
the museum with the introduction of yearly themes. Each year, the
museum recreates the effect that a particular trend or event had
on life in a rural Delaware community.
     This year, the theme is the publication of the first mail
order catalogs and the profound influence they had on the lives
of small-town farmers.
     Researching these effects is where Dolde comes in. She is
animated as she gestures to a small parlor in a reproduced
farmhouse. "They spent much of their evenings in here, gathered
around the catalogs. It was a family event," she says.
     Dolde explains that, by bringing tools and manufactured
goods (not to mention tonics promising extraordinary results),
mail order catalogs changed forever the lives of rural families.
     Goodman, who majored in history and art history, puts
exhibits' sometimes complicated concepts into a context
accessible to children. Not content to sit and wait for students
to come to the museum, Goodman designs packets that she sends to
Delaware teachers at particular grade levels, depending on the
exhibit. This year, fourth grade students are learning about mail
order catalogs, even in schools where a trip to the museum is not
     Next year, the theme will be the Great Depression, and Dolde
has already begun the research for artifacts to depict Delaware
life in that period.
     Importantly, the museum has 300 volunteers, coordinated by
Powell, a UD representative on the National Council for
Agricultural Research Extension and Teaching Council. Farmer,
Delaware '74, is pursuing a degree in accounting at UD. With a
B.A. in math and secondary education, she assists with
educational efforts and keeps the books.
     Unlike many facilities, the Delaware Agricultural Museum
makes some of its displays accessible to the public, particularly
to the curious hands of children. Visitors can, for example, sit
in the pews of the recreated old church. "We've had weddings in
here," Dolde says. "We want people to be able to experience the
history we present, and it's hard to do that from a distance."
                                            -Ann Marie Schropp