Interview with Joseph A. Haley, 1955 February 23 [audio]

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  • Starting to work in the powder yards; Day to day work at the powder yards
    Partial Transcript: "I didn't use my middle name at du Pont. When I first went to work at du Pont it was with Alfred I."
    Synopsis: Haley talks about his family's Irish background. He says that he went to work in the powder yards when he was 23 and had worked at a du Pont family owned farm previously. He talks about his job in the powder yard. He explains that he worked at every stage of the powder making process and filled vacant jobs as needed. He says that Alfred I. du Pont was in charge of the powder yards at the time. He talks about some of the other bosses in the powder yards. He talks about his wages, which started at $40.00 a month and went up to $65.00 a month. He talks about the men who worked beneath him.
    Keywords: Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; DuPont; Farms; Immigration; Ireland; Irish Americans; Wages
  • Operating a pulverizer; Attempts to unionize; The mills at Hagley; Narrow gauge railroad; Packing powder
    Partial Transcript: "The pulverizer -- that's where you put the soft charcoal and sulphur mixed with yellow andpulverized that with a steel ball." " But once they did try to form a labor union. I don't know about the feeling of the men. I never botheredwith it. I stayed away from the yard until they got it settled."
    Synopsis: Haley talks about operating a machine called the "pulverizer." He talks about daily work hours. He describes attempts to unionize at Hagley. He describes getting materials delivered at Hagley. He says that he helped unload and store soda in the Soda House. He talks about the water turbines that powered the mills. He says that he believes the Birkenhead Mill at Hagley was named for a man who said that area reminded him of a place in England called Birkenhead. He talks about the narrow gauge railroad at Hagley. He continues to talk about mill operations and putting finished gunpowder into barrels.
    Keywords: Birkenhead Mill; Hagley Yard; Making black powder; Mills; Pulverizer; Railroad; Unions; Water turbines; Water wheels
  • Safety precautions in the powder yard; New construction during Haley's career; Spanish American War and World War I; Living in Henry Clay
    Partial Transcript: "The corning mill was the most dangerous one in the yard. A man used to have to stay in there, and some lost their lives in there. Mr. Alfred was the one who put that safety device on there."
    Synopsis: Haley describes some safety features in the powder yards. He talks about a measure designed by Alfred I. du Pont. He talks about the buildings constructed during his the time he spent working in the powder yards. Haley talks about what it was like to work during the Spanish American war and World War I. He talks about living in Henry Clay while he worked in the powder yard.
    Keywords: Construction; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Hagley Yard; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Safety; Spanish American War (1898); World War (1914-1918)
  • Running mills at Hagley; Living in one of the worker villages; Recreation and fun
    Partial Transcript: "If you're on the mill, you have two wheels..."
    Synopsis: Haley describes running mills at Hagley. He explains that each turbine powered two mills. He describes how to safely run a mill. He explains the differences between workers who got free homes and those who paid rent. He talks about worker's gardens. He talks about the workers being dirty after the work day. He explains that Alfred I. du Pont introduced a wash house for workers so they could go home clean and change out of their powder clothes, which were a safety hazard due to the powder absorbed in the fiber. He talks about DuPont's wages compared to wages in Wilmington and says they were about the same. He says that many of the Italian powder workers played bocce for fun. He talks about some local taverns.
    Keywords: Boccey; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Gardens; Homes; Keye's Hill; Mills; Rent; Safety; Toy's tavern; Wages; Water; Water turbines; Wilmington, Del.
  • Social life outside of the powder yards and workers villages; Fourth of July celebrations; Shopping; Going to school; Neighbors and the local area; Relationships with members of the du Pont family; Politics and religion
    Partial Transcript: "They all had their different lodges, you know..."
    Synopsis: Haley talks about local lodges and clubs that weren't related to the powder yards. He describes Fourth of July celebrations. Haley talks about shopping at Sam Frizzell's store and going to Hagee's tavern. He talks about going to school at a place he calls Sharpley's School. He talks about his neighbors. He talks about his relationship with members of the du Pont family. He talks about politics in the powder yards and admiration for Teddy Roosevelt. Haley also talks about the role of religion in the powder yards.
    Keywords: Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Du Pont, Henry, 1812-1889; Du Pont, Lammot, 1831-1884; Fourth of July; Frizzell's Store; Green Hill Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, Del.); Hagee's tavern; Keye's Hill; Mt. Salem United Methodist Church (Wilmington, Del.); Politics; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church (Wilmington, Del.); Sharpley's School; Sons of Italy; Tancopanican Band; The Hibernians