The Society was founded in 1974 under the leadership of John A. H. Sweeney, a member of the first graduating material culture class of 1954. The stated purpose of the Society was “to advance the interest in an usefulness of the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture" and “to advance the cause of scholarship and to promote beneficial relations between the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, the University of Delaware, and alumni and fellows.” Original committee included Scholarship, Reunion, Finance, Fellows, and Communications.
WPEAC Fellows in 1955 with John Sweeney. Image courtesy of the Winterthur Archives.
Material Culture Studies and Art Conservation
With the addition of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, also in 1974, the Society came to represent alumni of both graduate programs.Activities and events have expanded over the years to accommodate an expanding membership and wide demographic. But the organization’s original mission—to keep alumni connected to other and to Winterthur and to support the graduate programs of the museum—has remained unchanged.
First WPEAC class of 1954. Image courtesy of the Winterthur Archives.
First WUDPAC class of 1977. Image courtesy of the Winterthur Archives.
Presidents of the Society
Martin Weil, 1974-1977 Philip Curtis, 1978-1979 Philip Johnston, 1980-1983 Catherine Lynn, 1984-1985 Morrison Hecksher, 1986-1990 Debra Hess Norris, 1991-1993 Ellen Snyder-Grenier, 1993-1995 Constance Vecchione Hershey, 1995-1999 Page Talbott, 1999-2004 Thomas Ryan, 2004-2010 Robin Sarratt, 2010-2015 Christie Jackson, 2015-2017 Matthew A. Thurlow, Present