Donald Callender papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Donald W. Callender, Jr., is an industrial archaeologist whose career in the greater Delaware-Pennsylvania-Maryland-New Jersey area has involved maintenance and restoration of railroads and rail cars, as well as the establishment of a regional living history museum, and leadership of historic preservation organizations.

Callender graduated from Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Archeology. He began his career working as director of the Bishop's Mill Historical Institute, a non-profit organization that created and maintains the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation in Ridley Creek State Park (Edgemont, Pennsylvania). After working with the institute from 1973-1977, he became tourist development officer of the Visitor's Council of Delaware County, Pennsylvania from 1978-1979. In 1980, he served for three years as executive director of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he developed its initial marketing plan, promotional materials, staffing, membership, and work programs.

From the years 1983-1989, Callender served as executive director of Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc., a non-profit organization that operated the Wilmington and Western Railroad (Delaware's only steam tourist railroad). Moving from the non-profit sector into the arena of business, he began employment with Railroad Management services in 1989, and researched, wrote, and presented a study of three potential sites for a Claymont, Delaware, commuter rail station for the Delaware Department of Transportation. From 1992-2005 he served as a vice president and partner for Four States Railway Services, a Delaware corporation responsible for managing the West Chester Railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania. While working at Four States, Callender also served as a historic interpreter at Hagley Museum and Library in Greenville, Delaware. In April, 2005 he became a justice of the peace for New Castle County Courts.

He is the father of Samuel Callender and Joseph Callender.


Biographical information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 24 linear feet of material, spanning the dates 1966-2008 (bulk dates 1974-1999), documenting the for-profit and nonprofit work of Donald W. Callender, Jr., an industrial archaeologist whose career in the greater Delaware-Pennsylvania-New Jersey area has involved maintenance and restoration of railroads and rail cars. In addition, Callender was involved in the establishment of a regional living history museum, leadership of historic preservation organizations, and efforts to restore the Wilmington Waterfront and increase tourism to the city. The collection also documents his personal interest in sailing and tall ships and his involvement in the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. The papers provide extensive documentation of the programs and operations of the organizations Callender was involved in and, as a whole, the collection will be useful to scholars, preservationists, public planners, and members of the general public interested in the history of technology, museum studies, and material culture.

Series I. contains memos, notes, organizational minutes, brochures, news clippings, and photographs relating to Callender's involvement in the several regional railroad organizations from 1982-2008. The first subseries contains material relating to Callender's work with the Wilmington and Western Railroad, run by Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc., for whom he served as executive director for six years. These papers contain technical information relating to operation of the railroad, such as maintenance memos, invoices for railway equipment, and contracts for track clearing. They also contain material related to Callender's administrative duties, such as lists of volunteers, training materials, financial information, meeting minutes, promotional brochures, fund-raising information memos and correspondence, and material documenting a five-year program of revitalization for the railroad.

Subseries I.B. contains information relating to Callender's work as vice president of Four States Railways Services, a Delaware corporation that manages the West Chester Railroad Company in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Included are invoices for railway equipment, maintenance memos, meeting minutes, photographs of railway crossings, administrative material, brochures for various historic railroads, and plans for a freight train service on the Octoraro Railroad, near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The material also documents the creation of the West Chester Rail Road and includes the proposal and operations plan for the Borough of West Chester and SEPTA. There is related information such as advertising and marketing, invoices for equipment purchases, and material on events occurring in West Chester.

Subseries I.C. documents Callender's work with Railway Management Services, a Delaware corporation that maintained and operated the industrial railroad for Citisteel Usa, located in Claymont, DE. The subseries includes billing logs, memos of services performed, documentation of the removal of hazardous waste, invoices for equipment purchased, marketing and public relations plans and brochures, and information (news clippings, bills to, correspondence ) on Citisteel USA. Also included is material documenting Callender's research for a study of potential sites for the Claymont commuter rail station for the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Series II. documents Callender's involvement in historic preservation and restoration projects throughout his career. It consists of minutes, memos, correspondence, news clippings, agendas, photographs, publicity and more demonstrating his leadership in regional preservation organizations. The first subseries documents his work with the Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc. (HRCV), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the natural, cultural, and railroad heritage of northern Delaware. The subseries consists of a substantial amount of HRCV administrative material such as board of directors meeting minutes, internal memos, maintenance reports for the Wilmington and Western Railroad, personnel lists, company expenses, yearly budgets, and ticket statistics. There is also a significant amount of material related to railroad-related publicity such as event flyers, programs for the annual HRCV dinner (and other events), postcards, calendars, seasonal advertising, and news clippings about the HRCV or Wilmington and Western Railroad. Material related to other railroad improvement projects, tourist railroads, alternative train and railway equipment, and the Wilmington and Western Railroad five-year plan is included. It should be noted that Historic Red Clay Valley material is included not only in this subseries, but in others, as the subject material overlaps in many cases.

Series II.B. documents Callender's role in the establishment of the Bishop's Mill Historic Institute (BMHI) in the 1970s. The Institute operates the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation as a living history museum on land leased from Ridley Creek State Park (Edgemont, Pennsylvania) and represents a Delaware County farm as it would have existed prior to the American Revolution. The subseries documents the sometimes difficult process of establishing and maintaining the museum. Included are board meeting minutes, committee reports, financial statements, information on educational programs, research on the original plantation, material exploring various grant opportunities, and a significant amount of information related to publicity for the museum (including a film proposal). Financial issues faced by BMHI are exemplified by a state audit and three-month closure in 1976 due to a lack of funding. The subseries also includes material from a symposium on Experimental Archeology, chaired by Callender, for the American Society of Historical Archeology.

Series III. documents Callender's work with visitor and tourist organizations in Delaware and Pennsylvania as well as his personal interest in maritime projects and tall ships. Subseries III.A. relates to Callender's efforts to revive the Wilmington Waterfront along the Christiana and Brandywine Rivers. It contains press releases, brochures, and newsletters relating to Wilmington Waterfront restoration efforts in the early 1980s as well as material documenting attempts to establish the ship USCG Mohawk as a living museum that would draw visitors to the Waterfront.

Subseries III.B. and III.C. contain material documenting Callender's interest in tall ships and maritime projects, such as the efforts to restore the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Welcome as well as material demonstrating a strong personal interest in sailing and various ship plans. Subseries III.B. includes mostly of memos, brochures, and correspondence about the Kalmar Nyckel and Welcome . Subseries III.C. includes brochures, studies, and other information from various local maritime institutes and museums (including a helicopter museum), but primarily focuses on Callender's personal interest in sailing. Included instructional manuals, syllabi, promotional material for sailing societies, and documentation from courses taken in boating safety, notes from conversations with boat makers, research on boat construction, and ship plans for several vessels, including a "Tahiti" ketch boat.

Subseries III.D. documents Callender's work with tourism and revitalization efforts, starting with his work as Development Officer of the Visitor's Council of Delaware County, Pennsylvania in the late 1970s and continuing with his work as Executive Director of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau (GWCVB). With the former organization he promoted micro-region tour destinations within the county and building programs with the Wilmington and Western Railroad. With the latter, he helped to identify possible ways to bring tourists to the city of Wilmington and was involved in early efforts to revive the Wilmington waterfront. Plans included ideas such as rebuilding Fort Christiania as a historic park, or building shops and a river walk. The series also includes many promotional materials from surrounding cities, taken as examples.

Series IV. contains two audio cassettes featuring two programs of New Jersey radio station WDVR as well as three maps: a 1975 map of Wilmington, a reproduction of a 1673 map of Virginia and Maryland, and an undated land survey map of Sussex County.