Nora Thompson Dean: Lenape Teacher and Herbalist

June 6 through September 17, 2023
Black-and-white portrait of Nora Thompson Dean at three quarter angle looking down.

The installation in the Rotunda and the Garden in Summer 2023, developed collaboratively with the Lenape Center, honors Nora Thompson Dean (1907–1984), a Lenape teacher and herbalist who dedicated her life to preserving Lenape culture. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she made multiple influential visits to Lenapehoking, the ancestral lands of the Lenape (an area that now encompasses most of New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and southern New York). The installation, incorporating letters, photographs, and printed materials, sheds light on aspects of Nora Thompson Dean's teaching, specifically the knowledge she passed on about the role of plants and planting in the Lenape worldview. This will be echoed by plantings in the Morgan Garden, which will showcase indigenous plants, including amaranth and pumpkins.

This exhibition is organized by the Morgan Library & Museum in collaboration with The Lenape Center, New York.

Nora Thompson Dean. Photograph by Roy Pataro.