- Images of America: Quaker Hill
Rich with historic photographs and documents, this volume has the potential to take the reader on a journey through 270 years of growth, decline, and revitalization of the Quaker Hill district in Wilmington, Delaware. Sadly, the content does not live up to the promise.
The opening chapter on Early Settlers discusses the settlement of the area by Quakers from the Philadelphia area, who became leaders in business, industry, and philanthropy of Wilmington in the 19th century. Later chapters devoted to Thomas Garrett, the Wilmington Friends School, and the Cathedral of St. Peter allow for a more in-depth understanding of the roles of faith and tradition in the community through discussions of the Quaker involvement in the Underground Railroad and commitment to equality as lived out in the history of the Wilmington Friends School, and the influence of Jesuit, Franciscan, and Augustine priests who traveled to the area as early as the mid-1700s to serve the French population who settled there as refugees from Hispaniola. The final chapter takes the reader through a walking tour of the Quaker Hill area, highlighting the mixed socioeconomic balance that characterized the traditional neighborhood social life and shaped its architecture.
Each chapter opens with a brief essay introducing the topic of the photos that follow. Unfortunately, it appears that each essay and the introduction to the book was written by a different individual and were not edited together, making them very repetitive and not incredibly helpful. The photographs in each chapter and the captions with them could be a valuable source of narrative, but fall short of this goal. The layout of the photographs seems to be haphazard, and the captions are again repetitive and lacking in detail.
The Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation, an organization “dedicated to preserving, restoring, and promoting the history, social life, and architecture of the Quaker Hill area using . . . historical research; educational presentations . . . guided tours; and social events” was founded in 1992. This publication is a part of that laudable effort that, with some editorial and research supervision, could greatly enhance the Foundation’s mission. [End Page 43]