Nedda Moqtaderi spent more than a decade researching the history of the Mt. Cuba Center property, and she’s sharing what she discovered in Mt. Cuba Center: From Farm Fields to Public Garden on February 7. In this online course, explore the fascinating 80-year history as it transitioned from Lammot and Pamela Copeland’s estate to a public garden devoted to native plants.
Through historic photographs, architectural blueprints, and family correspondence the story comes to life. Read more below as Moqtaderi shares her unique experience working with Mrs. Copeland and how her passion for Early American Culture evolved. Then register for this history-focused online class about a place that inspires an appreciation of nature.
Mt. Cuba Center: You have an M.A. in Early American Culture and have experience in the history field from archives to preservation. Can you tell us about your past roles and passion for history?
Nedda Moqtaderi: I have always had an interest in knowing more about the past and especially in learning more about the details of people’s lives and experiences. For this reason, I’ve been particularly drawn to material culture — the buildings, objects, artwork, and artifacts that people created and used in their daily lives. Most of my professional experiences have centered on working with historic objects, whether they be archaeological artifacts, historic structures, decorative arts, or written records, because they have a very unique way of helping us gain insight into people’s lived experiences.
Mt. Cuba Center: What drew you to the study of Early American Culture in particular?
Nedda Moqtaderi: As a child, I was intrigued by the historic buildings that I would see in the suburban landscape around me, and I felt a strong urge to know more about the people who lived in them. While at the University of Delaware, I had the opportunity to take courses with many leaders in the field of American art and history. Through courses in art history, archaeology, and historic preservation, I was introduced to the study of American material culture and discovered the ways to explore these remnants of the past to understand the people who made and used them. My graduate training in the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture further solidified and expanded my interest in early American history and culture.
Mt. Cuba Center: When did you start to study Mt. Cuba Center and what initially sparked your interest in the Copeland family?
Nedda Moqtaderi: I had the very unique opportunity of working for Pamela Copeland at Mt. Cuba when it was still a private residence. For a little over a year, in 1999, I spent one day each week inside the house, updating the inventories of her decorative arts collection. This experience ranks as an absolute highlight of my professional career! During the process of completing that collection’s inventory work, I began to work in affiliation with a University of Delaware team that was researching the history of the Mt. Cuba property, both during the Copeland era and in the centuries prior to their purchase of the property. This project blossomed under Pamela Copeland’s vision and has continued through the support of Mt. Cuba Center for nearly twenty years.
Mt. Cuba Center: Can you share a memorable experience as a historian?
Nedda Moqtaderi: It’s always exciting to discover something new while undertaking research. Each detail can be enlightening in its own way. But one particularly memorable experience came when I had spent several weeks researching archival records related to a house in Delaware County, PA. All documents pointed to a construction date of 1820-1825, but there was no specific record to confirm that. On a visit to the house, I walked upstairs into the attic and found, scribed into the plaster wall in his own handwriting, the name of the original owner with the date May 1823. The homeowner had lived there 15 years and had never seen it before! It was such an exciting moment of discovery and confirmation of my archival research!
Mt. Cuba Center: From Farm Fields to Public Garden (Online)
Sunday, February 7 from 1-2:30 pm.