Friends of Rockwood Fund

The Friends of Rockwood Fund was established in 2014 to honor the service of John Sweeney, Grayce Hess and Phoebe Loss to the Friends of Rockwood. The purpose of this award is to provide financial support, typically up to $1,500, for eligible University of Delaware graduate students in the humanities whose research addresses the material culture of the Victorian era.

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Northwest view showing southeast elevation of 1851 portion of the Rockwood House – Rockwood, 610 Shipley Road, Wilmington, New Castle County, DE

About the Friends of Rockwood:

In 1974, the executors of the estate of Nancy Sellers Hargraves (descendant of Joseph Shipley’s nephew, the Bringhurst family,) through the Delaware Chancery Court, gifted Rockwood Manor House to New Castle County. In exchange, the County accepted the obligation of preserving the historical, aesthetic, and cultural character of Rockwood and of providing an example of Victorian life in Delaware to area residents and visitors through a museum setting.

In 1977, The Friends of Rockwood was incorporated to support the County in its effort to preserve and maintain Rockwood. The county did not want to purchase or own the original collection – furniture, accessories, textiles, books, letters, and photographs – which were left in the manor house. The Friends was asked by the County to raise funds to purchase and conserve that collection.

Since the establishment of this non-profit organization, The Friends has had great success in their fund raising endeavors. Most of the original furnishings in the manor house have been purchased, scores of objects restored, and the stone walls along Shipley Road rebuilt. The latest project was the opening of the reinterpretation of the 1895 kitchen for exhibit.

Additionally, they sponsor a variety of special events and provide the volunteer staff to assist with museum projects and programs. All of The Friends’ activities are geared toward increasing visibility, strengthening community support, and providing financial growth.

The 2018 Rockwood Fellow, Petra Clark from the Department of English, writes

With the generous support of the Friends of Rockwood fund, I was able to attend “The Body and the Page in Victorian Culture: An International Conference” from 26-29 July 2018. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) and the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada (VSAWC) and took place at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. As a scholar of Victorian periodicals, RSVP is my specialty field’s major conference, and it has been extremely important to the ways in which I have come to conceptualize my work. My paper, “‘Fancy Plumes’ vs. ‘Smashed Birds’: Taxidermy Bird Bodies in the Late-Victorian Periodical Press,” grew out of my 2017 DELPHI project on the late-Victorian craze for taxidermy bird hats and built on the public talk on the same subject that I had given at the Delaware Historical Society earlier this year. At the conference, I presented on a panel specifically focused on animal studies and Victorian attitudes toward ecology, which has helped me to think further about the wider contexts of my topic.”

Picture featuring Petra Clark’s presentation, with several caricatures by Punch magazine artist Linley Sambourne of fashionable ladies as “birds of prey” wearing birds and feathers.

The 2017 Rockwood Fellow, Sarah Leonard from the Department of Art History, writes :

A grant from the Friends of Rockwood Fund will support my research during September 2017. I will spend the majority of the month researching at the Delaware Art Museum and the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware library. I will also make a trip to the Yale Center for British Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At Yale, I will view landscape paintings and maps which will inform all three chapters of my dissertation. I will also meet with my dissertation’s outside reader, Professor Tim Barringer. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I will investigate a full collection of Frederick H. Evans’s photographs of Kelmscott Manor, which are central to my research on the construction of the Kelmscott landscape as a pastoral ideal.

Sarah Leonard by the Thames River at Kelmscott

Rockwood Museum Website

The deadlines for applications for support for the current academic year are October 15 and March 15. We will begin accepting applications one month before the deadline. To apply, prepare a one-page statement, a brief budget, and a current CV. Also, please arrange to have your advisor send a letter of reference to materialculture@udel.edu. Awardees agree to present the results of their research to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or another appropriate public venue, and to submit a one-page report within one month of completing their research, and no later than the end of the academic year in which the grant funds were disbursed.

Send application materials to materialculture@udel.edu with “Friends of Rockwood Fund” in the subject field. In accepting a grant the awardee allows CMCS to use any original materials they submit (such as a report and images) for promotional purposes, which could include posting to the website.