With the 45th anniversary of America’s landing on the moon taking place in July, the Delaware Public Archives will honor this historic event by hosting a program on Saturday, July 5, 10:30 a.m. about the development of the early space suit at International Latex Corporation (ILC). This program, presented by Bill Ayrey, will explain the Apollo space suit and the impact that it had on the success of the Apollo program which culminated with man’s landing on the moon. In addition to discussing the Apollo space suit, Mr. Ayrey will describe the development of the Space Shuttle and Space Station space suits. The presentation will also include information about ILC Dover’s creation of the airbags that landed the rovers on Mars.
Employed at ILC since 1977, Ayrey is the quality test laboratory manager and company historian for ILC Dover, located in Frederica, Delaware. As the laboratory manager, he is responsible for testing advanced materials for many product lines. Mr. Ayrey oversees the manned testing of the space suits and the testing of all space suit parts before delivery to NASA. He has provided training to Smithsonian docents on the details of the space suits in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum (NASM) collection. Ayrey will also provide assistance as NASM forms a working group to determine the best practice for displaying Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 suit in 2017.
The program is free to the public and will last approximately one hour. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Denison, processing archivist
This year marks the 65th and final year of the Delmarva Chicken Festival. Started in 1948, the Delmarva Chicken Festival is a celebration of the area’s poultry industry. Over the years, people flocked to the festival to see the world’s largest frying pan. With a 10 foot diameter and weighing in at 650 pounds, the fry pan holds 800 chicken quarters.
Aside from a new fry pan in 1988, not much about the festival has changed through the years. The Delmarva Chicken Festival will remain a fond memory for many residents of the Delmarva Peninsula and an important part of the history of the poultry industry. We’ll be sharing images from our holding of past festivals on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Check them out and share your Delmarva Chicken Festival memories with us.
Last week, Delaware Public Archives staff dedicated a new historic marker at the New Castle County Workhouse at Greenbank. The Workhouse dates back to 1901 and holds the unique distinction of being the first penal institution in the United States to employ armed female guards.
Nicknamed “Annie Oakleys” for their excellent shooting ability with the machine guns and rifles they carried, the women were first introduced to the Workhouse in 1943 as a solution to the loss of many male guards due to the war effort. They were chosen from a pool of more than 50 applicants who responded to a newspaper advertisement for “women, age 21 to 35 for outside guard duty in towers.” All of those hired were Delawareans; many were married with children and made their home either in Wilmington or in the suburbs. Stationed in the Workhouse’s three towers, the female guards worked 8-hour shifts, 48 hours per week and were compensated with a monthly salary of $110.00. Out of concern for their safety, the names of the eleven guards were not released; as of 2013 only four guards had been successfully identified.
The Delaware Public Archives operates the Historic Markers Program as part of its Outreach Services Section and places markers at historically significant locations and sites throughout the state. For more information about this program, please contact Kate Fair, Historic Markers Coordinator, at 302-744-5016.
The ‘Voices of War’ Project, started in 2001 by local filmmaker Thomas J. Healy II, includes interviews with over 100 Delawareans who served or were active on the home front during World War II. The William J. Kitchell Collection is an ongoing project that includes the World War II, Korea and Vietnam Series. The collection is a first-person, oral history project intended to memorialize the accounts and experiences of our veterans, create a documentary and develop a comprehensive educational program for use in middle and high school social studies classes.
Students from Central Middle School in Dover participated in the ceremony by leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.