Oral histories on work and daily life in the Brandywine Valley

About this collection

A collection of approximately 200 interviews conducted between 1953 and 1990 with people who lived and worked in New Castle County, Delaware. The recollections of the subjects cover a period from about 1900 to 1960. While the majority of the interviews are with those who have a connection with the DuPont Company or du Pont family either as employees or inhabitants of the area surrounding the company's operation on the Brandywine River, the collection also includes interviews with those who worked in other industries in Delaware during this era such as Hodgson Woolen Mill, Lobdell Car Wheel Company, Hoopes Brother & Darlington, and Joseph Bancroft & Sons. In addition to documenting work and labor during this period, the interviewers delve deeply into the social and cultural lives of their subjects. Issues related to domesticity, gender, education, childhood, ethnicity, medicine, etc. are among the topics covered in the interviews. Also of note are interviews with a journalist (Fred Reybold) and an early broadcaster (Willard Wilson) who worked in Delaware.

    For more information about the collection, click here to view the finding aid.
    Image: Vance Mitchell during 1968 interview. Click to view.

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Interview with F.L. (Les) Mathewson, 1968 July 3 [audio](part 1)
Mathewson describes the addition of electricity to the powder yard, his impressions of A.I. du Pont, and his neighbors. He also discusses his childhood, his father's work responsibilities, and his own job at the Hopewell plant in blasting. He describes the intricacies of blasting work and his experiences with the trap-shooting club., F.L. "Les" Mathewson (b. 1895) grew up in Breck's Lane in a family of DuPont workers; his father worked in the electrical department, his grandfather was the foreman of the cooper shop, and his great-grandfather worked in the powder yards. He worked at the Hopewell plant and later became Mrs. W.K. du Pont's chauffeur., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 1.55 GB., Ferrodynamics Brand Five, 1800 ft. x 1 mil, polyester, #10D7M, Part 1: Ends abruptly but picks up on Part 2 Part 2: Ends abruptly, [Description and dates], 1970370_62713_matheson_part1, Box 2, Reel 49, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with F.L. (Les) Mathewson, 1968 July 3 [audio](part 2)
Mathewson describes the addition of electricity to the powder yard, his impressions of A.I. du Pont, and his neighbors. He also discusses his childhood, his father's work responsibilities, and his own job at the Hopewell plant in blasting. He describes the intricacies of blasting work and his experiences with the trap-shooting club., F.L. "Les" Mathewson (b. 1895) grew up in Breck's Lane in a family of DuPont workers; his father worked in the electrical department, his grandfather was the foreman of the cooper shop, and his great-grandfather worked in the powder yards. He worked at the Hopewell plant and later became Mrs. W.K. du Pont's chauffeur., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 532 MB., Ferrodynamics Brand Five, 1800 ft. x 1 mil, polyester, #10D7M, Part 1: Ends abruptly but picks up on Part 2 Part 2: Ends abruptly, [Description and dates], 1970370_62713_matheson_part2, Box 2, Reel 49, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 1)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels., Thomas E. Doremus (b. 1874) was the grandson of W.R. Swift, the founder of Swift Powder Mill and Schaghticoke Powder Company in New York. His father, the bookkeeper, had married Swift's daughter. The company was eventually acquired by DuPont in 1902 after they purchased much of the interest. He attended Rochester Polytechnic Institute for civil engineering but did not complete his degree. He joined DuPont in 1905 after being heavily recruited by the company. In 1919, he opened a branch of the company in Shanghai, and his sales manager, Mr. Trubnikoff, was found to be a Russian spy charged with stealing DuPont secrets., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 1.02 GB., Webcor Electric Memory, 1200 ft., tape no. 2906, polyester, 1 of 3; Interview summary-not a direct transcript, Part 1: ends abruptly but picks up on part 2 Part 2: Ends abruptly but conversation was wrapping up, [Description and dates], 1970370_71713_Doremus_part1, Box 1, Reel 9, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 2)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels., Thomas E. Doremus (b. 1874) was the grandson of W.R. Swift, the founder of Swift Powder Mill and Schaghticoke Powder Company in New York. His father, the bookkeeper, had married Swift's daughter. The company was eventually acquired by DuPont in 1902 after they purchased much of the interest. He attended Rochester Polytechnic Institute for civil engineering but did not complete his degree. He joined DuPont in 1905 after being heavily recruited by the company. In 1919, he opened a branch of the company in Shanghai, and his sales manager, Mr. Trubnikoff, was found to be a Russian spy charged with stealing DuPont secrets., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 861 MB., Webcor Electric Memory, 1200 ft., tape no. 2906, polyester, 1 of 3; Interview summary-not a direct transcript, Part 1: ends abruptly but picks up on part 2 Part 2: Ends abruptly but conversation was wrapping up, [Description and dates], 1970370_71713_Doremus_part2, Box 1, Reel 9, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 16 [audio](part 3)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels., Thomas E. Doremus (b. 1874) was the grandson of W.R. Swift, the founder of Swift Powder Mill and Schaghticoke Powder Company in New York. His father, the bookkeeper, had married Swift's daughter. The company was eventually acquired by DuPont in 1902 after they purchased much of the interest. He attended Rochester Polytechnic Institute for civil engineering but did not complete his degree. He joined DuPont in 1905 after being heavily recruited by the company. In 1919, he opened a branch of the company in Shanghai, and his sales manager, Mr. Trubnikoff, was found to be a Russian spy charged with stealing DuPont secrets., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 1.05 GB., Scotch, Plastic, 1/4 x 1200 ft., tape no. 111 A-12, 2 of 3; Interview summary-not a direct transcript, Part 3: Ends abruptly but picks on on Part 4, [Description and dates], 1970370_71813_Doremus_part3, Box 1, Reel 10, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 16 [audio](part 4)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels., Thomas E. Doremus (b. 1874) was the grandson of W.R. Swift, the founder of Swift Powder Mill and Schaghticoke Powder Company in New York. His father, the bookkeeper, had married Swift's daughter. The company was eventually acquired by DuPont in 1902 after they purchased much of the interest. He attended Rochester Polytechnic Institute for civil engineering but did not complete his degree. He joined DuPont in 1905 after being heavily recruited by the company. In 1919, he opened a branch of the company in Shanghai, and his sales manager, Mr. Trubnikoff, was found to be a Russian spy charged with stealing DuPont secrets., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 12.5 MB., Scotch, Plastic, 1/4 x 1200 ft., tape no. 111 A-12, 2 of 3; Interview summary-not a direct transcript, Part 3: Ends abruptly but picks on on Part 4, [Description and dates], 1970370_71813_Doremus_part4, Box 1, Reel 10, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 30 [audio]
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels., Thomas E. Doremus (b. 1874) was the grandson of W.R. Swift, the founder of Swift Powder Mill and Schaghticoke Powder Company in New York. His father, the bookkeeper, had married Swift's daughter. The company was eventually acquired by DuPont in 1902 after they purchased much of the interest. He attended Rochester Polytechnic Institute for civil engineering but did not complete his degree. He joined DuPont in 1905 after being heavily recruited by the company. In 1919, he opened a branch of the company in Shanghai, and his sales manager, Mr. Trubnikoff, was found to be a Russian spy charged with stealing DuPont secrets., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 952 MB., Webcor Electric Memory, 1200 ft., tape no. 2906, polyester, 3 of 3; Interview summary-not a direct transcript; Side A contains narration by N.B. Wilkinson regarding the du Pont's history in France prior to move to U.S. before interview starts, Part 5: Ends abruptly buts continues on Part 6; Part 6: ends abruptly, [Description and dates], 1970370_71813_Doremus_part5, Box 1, Reel 11, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 30 [audio]
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels., Thomas E. Doremus (b. 1874) was the grandson of W.R. Swift, the founder of Swift Powder Mill and Schaghticoke Powder Company in New York. His father, the bookkeeper, had married Swift's daughter. The company was eventually acquired by DuPont in 1902 after they purchased much of the interest. He attended Rochester Polytechnic Institute for civil engineering but did not complete his degree. He joined DuPont in 1905 after being heavily recruited by the company. In 1919, he opened a branch of the company in Shanghai, and his sales manager, Mr. Trubnikoff, was found to be a Russian spy charged with stealing DuPont secrets., Digitized by Hagley Museum and Library. Software: Adobe Audition CS6 (Windows). Encoding: Microsoft PCM. Constant 2304kbps, 96KHz, 24-bps. 1.03 GB., Webcor Electric Memory, 1200 ft., tape no. 2906, polyester, 3 of 3; Interview summary-not a direct transcript; Side A contains narration by N.B. Wilkinson regarding the du Pont's history in France prior to move to U.S. before interview starts, Part 5: Ends abruptly buts continues on Part 6; Part 6: ends abruptly, [Description and dates], 1970370_71813_Doremus_part6, Box 1, Reel 11, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interviews on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 1970.370), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Thomas Doremus who worked in the powder industry. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interview transcripts on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 2026), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with F.L. (Les) Mathewson, 1968 July 3 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Les Mathewson who grew up on the Brandywine and later on worked for DuPont. The interview took place in Montchanin, Delaware., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation interview transcripts on the history of the DuPont Company Powder Yard (Accession 2026), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807