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Program News

Student digital humanities project, DelaWARES, shares students’ original research about the rich material culture of the first state.

Visit DelaWARES to find fascinating people, places, and things. During the introductory course to the Program, students were tasked with creating an online exhibit that not only included the written word but also required the use of a digital tool to help tell their story in a more interactive way. After conducting extensive original research on their chosen topic, the students then created sound files, videos, interactive maps, and 3D object and architectural recreations. The website is an excellent model of graduate scholarship at the intersection of public humanities, American material culture studies, and regional history.

Early map of Wilmington DE by Benjamin Ferris.

From A Tale of Two Brothers
(Image courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society.)


Woven fabric in bold stripe pattern

From The Story of Ardenweave
(Image courtesy of the Arden Craft Shop Museum.)


Cannon Brand sugar corn can label

From Traces of the Factory: H.P. Cannon and Son, Inc.
(Image courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society.)



Rosalie Hooper (WPAMC 2016) creates first music video inspired by Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library.

Rosalie K. Hooper, WPAMC Class of 2016, interprets the Du Pont Dining Room as a singing Henry Francis du Pont in “Part of My World” (2016)

Rosalie K. Hooper (WPAMC 2016) wrote, directed and provided the vocal talent for “Part of My World,” a music video and student tribute to Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont, filmed on location at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in October 2015. The video premiered at the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture Class of 2016 Thesis Presentations on May 26, 2016.

The video is available on YouTube with the permission of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Please scroll down to view and enjoy!

Inspired by Henry Francis du Pont and his collection at Winterthur Museum, Rosalie K. Hooper performs as du Pont himself in her clever parody of “Part of Your World,” written by Alan Menken for Disney’s The Little Mermaid (copyright Walt Disney Records). Hooper thanks her classmates in the WPAMC Class of 2016, Dr. Catharine Dann Roeber and Academic Programs at Winterthur and the History Media Center at University of Delaware for supporting this musical project.


Kristen Semento is 2016 Delaware Public Humanities Institute (DelPHI) Award Recipient.

Kristen Semento, WPAMC Class of 2017

Kristen Semento, WPAMC Class of 2017

Every summer the University of Delaware’s Center for Material Culture Studies awards research grants to fourteen lucky graduate students in humanities disciplines, including the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.  Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, DelPHI’s two week institute at UD’s Newark campus helps young humanitarians strengthen professional skills that may be overlooked by a graduate curriculum. Students work with other humanitarians, reporters, lawyers, news and radio writers, as well as experts across a variety of fields to learn how to write grants and press releases, give better interviews, and engage audiences with their research topics.

Kristen is a Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur program with special interest in the History of American Medicine during the 18th and 19th centuries. Kristen’s research examines the social, financial, emotional, political, and legal factors contributing to the accumulation of unclaimed cremated remains in American medical and funerary institutions.

Click for details.

Semento thesis pictureThe State Hospital of Oregon’s collection of unclaimed cremains

Fellows surveyed for Northeast Field Study Priorities.

Students' view down the Hudson River.

Students’ view down the Hudson River.

Between their first and second year, Fellows embark on a 10 day Field Study of the Northeastern US, including such notable sites as: Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum, Old Sturbridge Village, Baseball Hall of Fame, Florence Griswold Museum, Bronck House, Historic Deerfield, the Gropius House, and Yale University Art Museum. Students network with professionals in many “behind the scenes” discussions and tours. Faculty are reviewing students’ input and will finalize the August 2016 Field study detailed itinerary soon.





Initial offering of New Course “American Interiors” in Fall 2016. 

American-Interiors-Poster-full-imageNew course designed and taught by  Catharine Dann Roeber, PhD; Assistant Professor, Decorative Arts and Material Culture of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Dr. Roeber received her Ph. D. in history from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. She completed her master’s degree in  American Material Culture at the University of Delaware as a Winterthur Fellow. The course is cross-listed with Museum Studies as MSST667-012/EAMC667-012 and will be taught at Winterthur on Mondays 9am – noon September 5th- December 5th, 2016. 
Course Description: Explore American architecture and interior design from 1750-1950  through close analysis of the museum and library collections at Winterthur, review of pertinent historical scholarship, and field studies.  Each student will develop a capstone project for the course related to their academic and career goals. 

Two week full immersion Field Study in English Design History has successfully concluded. 

Throughout this intense 2 week field study during January 2016 in Britain (including Bath, Bristol, and London)  students  recorded their experiences in their  blogs in Materials Matter.

The students are working in teams (much like a museum chief curator would assign assistant curators a project);  on presentations to be made at the end of February. The major project this year involves five thematic studies that compare British and American design and material culture. Each team is charged with preparing a 20-25-page research report with illustrations, endnotes, and bibliography. Each student MUST include objects in their study and not rely only on texts. At least one of these objects should come from the collections at Winterthur (object or library collections), but the majority of them should engage objects, or landscape features encountered in the UK. The goal of each report is to identify 3-5 conceptual approaches that might shape a comparative exhibit on American and British design.

There is more than one way of approaching this goal. Some students may find it helpful to start as if conceptualizing a planning grant to the NEH (a real challenge that you may experience during your career). The assignment does not require to design an exhibit (although it can be very helpful to visualize the project narrative as an exhibition design in your heads). Rather, the goal is to articulate the concepts and principal forms of evidence that an exhibit staff would use during a full-scale research project that would eventually shape an exhibit and published catalog (print or online).

The students met several curators  on the trip talk about this challenge in the Museum of London, the European Galleries at the V&A, and the SS Great Britain. All of them considered the back and forth between the display of objects, the goals of interpretation, and the nature of the audiences they were trying to reach.Some recommended organizing questions: what are you trying to tell or show audiences? why is it desirable to do so? how does (do) your idea(s) advance scholarship or public knowledge? and what are the preliminary findings that suggest you are doing something important (the so what; who cares question)?

The research report should focus on a particular design theme and  include examples drawn from American and the UK. Perspectives should include the full time period of the course, but each group may focus on specific examples to help readers understand the comparisons you are making and the interpretations you are advancing. Remember that this approach is a research report in which the end product is a text that would guide the concepts for an actual exhibit.

The final edited reports have been published on the Material Matters web site  student blog.

Discriminating Views: Documentary Photography and Japanese American Internment, authored by James Curtis, former director of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture was recently published.  This new work focuses on photographers hired by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) and shows how their images were shaped by the government’s need to explain and justify the evacuation, confinement and eventual resettlement of over 110,000 Japanese Americans. Read more about Discriminating Views.
Discriminating Views Cover Web -m

Warm greetings from England! The first year Winterthur Fellows and Professors are completely immersed in English Design History since landing in London on January 17th, touring historic sites and museums with curators, authors, and educators.  The first day  they toured through the old city (viewing the many contrasts of old and new in the evolving landscape) with Angus Lockyear followed by their first visit to the V & A. For daily updates throughout this intense 2 week field study in Britain (including Bath, Bristol, and London) see the students’ blogs in http://sites.udel.edu/materialmatters/

EDH 2016 day 2


Fellows Attend a Photography Workshop with Head of Conservation Debra Hess Norris

On Monday, November 16th, Winterthur Fellows took part in a photography workshop with Debra Hess Norris, Chair and Professor of Art Conservation at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and photographic conservator. Norris is a global leader in care and treatment of photographic materials, emergency response, ethics, and conservation education.

To name but a few of her positions and achievements, Norris was the chair of Heritage Preservation (2003-2008) and president of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (1993-97). From 1990-93 she chaired the AIC Ethics and Standards Committee that developed a revised Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. She has served as president of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts Board (CCAHA), US commissioner to UNESCO, and project director of The Andrew W. Mellon Collaborative Workshops in Photograph Conservation.

Norris brings a global perspective to the classroom, having lectured and consulted on the preservation of photographic collections worldwide, including in Russia, India, Lebanon, Columbia, Denmark, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Mexico, Israel, Peru, Australia, and New Zealand. She is treasurer of the Friends of the National Gallery of Denmark, a member of the visiting committee for the Department of Photographs, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the advisory committee for the Foundation for the AIC Collaborative Photograph Conservation Workshops.


Fellows in first and second year joined Norris to learn how to identify images that had been made with different development techniques. Using examples from Norris’ study collection, they first discussed the differences between direct positive techniques, such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. The Fellows then learned about 19th century print processes, including silver based processes, such as salted paper, albumen, collodion chloride POP (printing out process), and silver gelatin POP, and platinum processes. After that, Norris showed the Fellows 20th century print processes, including silver gelatin DOP (developing out process) and chromogenic.

Using examples of different types of prints, Norris showed the Fellows how to look for differences in appearance. The Fellows then put this knowledge to the test as they worked in pairs to practice identifying print processes used to create various mystery images.

In addition to learning about specific printing processes and techniques, the Fellows also learned about condition issues inherent in each technique as they age.

The Fellows were thrilled to learn from such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructor whose passion for conservation made everyone want to learn more about photographs.







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Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE 19716   •   USA
Phone: (302) 831-2678

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