Oral History

About this collection

This collection includes a compilation of oral histories that have been digitized and are available online. This is not a comprehensive collection of all oral history content at Hagley. For more information, please contact us at research@hagley.org.

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Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department
The Textile Fibers Department of the DuPont Company, established in 1936 as the Rayon Department, specialized in researching and developing synthetic fibers for fabrics such as Rayon, Nylon, Teflon, Corian, and Kevlar. Between 2007 and 2015, former DuPont Company employee Joe Plasky interviewed individuals who worked in all sectors of the business, from research and engineering to marketing, during the period from approximately 1950 to 2000. The development of new materials, products, and processes; construction of new plants; changes in marketing and personnel systems; and the introduction of computer systems are among the topics covered in the interviews.
Pennsylvania Railroad women workers oral histories
This collection consists of two interviews conducted in 1998 in West Chester, Pennsylvania with five women who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. They describe how they acquired their positions and their experiences working for the company. Topics discussed include wages, uniforms, sexism in the workplace, and the working environment during World War II.
    Image: Female Pennsylvania Railroad employee with steam derrick, 1943. Click to view.
History of Kevlar oral history interviews
The oral histories presented here document the research and development processes that transformed Kevlar from a novel polymer in the laboratory to a life-changing product in the marketplace. Through many surprising twists and turns, the people profiled here managed to make Kevlar serve the complicated and occasionally contradictory interests of the DuPont company, scientific inquiry, the marketplace, and the general public. Their stories are a rich study in the business and technology of innovation. Interviews were conducted by John Kenly Smith, PhD, in 2014 and 2015. Special thanks to the 1916 Foundation, the friends and family of Mary Laird Silvia, and individual donors for support of this project.
Oral histories on work and daily life in the Brandywine Valley
A collection of approximately 200 interviews conducted between 1953 and 1984 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.
Beer and craft brewing oral history interviews
This collection contains a series of interviews conducted in 2015 and 2016 on the business of craft brewing in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The collection includes interviews with brewers and brewery owners from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Additionally, interviews were conducted that cover packaging (canning), distribution, retail sales, and the politics around regulating the alcohol business.
    The project was developed by Gregory Hargreaves, Hagley's former Oral Historian. Mr Hargreaves also conducted the interviews for the project.
    Image: A page from a souvenir album for the F.A. Poth Brewing Company in Philadelphia, 1890. Learn more in our digital exhibit Beer & Brewing History at Hagley Museum & Library
Interview with André and Bobbie Harvey, Session 1, 2017 June 15
In this interview, André and Bobbie Harvey discuss the training, experiences, and travels that led them to the art world, the sculpture business they built together beginning in the 1970s, and the process of bringing a piece of art into the world, from conception to execution to exhibition to sale. They also reflect on the cultural and historical conditions that influenced their decision to pursue careers in art, and the personal and mutual satisfactions of following artistic passion and cultivating community connections.At the outset of session 1, André discusses his background and upbringing in rural Pocopson, Pennsylvania; the influence of his father, an ardent conservationist; his education at the University of Virginia; and and his "heart-attack job" at Scholastic magazine in New York followed by time teaching middle and high school students at the Sanford and Tatnall Schools, which convinced him to step away from his workaday routine and contemplate another path. Bobbie then discusses her childhood in Red Bank, New Jersey, her education and training, her family background in medicine, her marriage to André, her work as a research technician, and their departure for Europe in 1969 to explore another way of making a life together.The Harveys then reflect on their time in Scotland, England, France, Spain, and Morocco, explain how they found jobs to make some money while they traveled, discuss Bobbie's photography ambitions and the pictures they took on their travels, and the places they lived while they were abroad. They discuss their arrival in Vallauris, France, where André was transfixed by the work of sculptor Michel Anasse, and where they settled into a mini-apprenticeship with Anasse and his wife, a weaver and pottery glazer, while André learned welding and metalworking and Bobbie learned weaving and pottery.They then speak of their return to the United States in 1970, and how they began the work of making a go of it in the art world. They started looking for a professional sculptor from which André could learn, and found Charles Parks, who was in the Brandywine Valley to which they had returned. Parks taught André techniques, mold making, and working in fiberglass. André set to work making his first sculpture, a jumping frog. Bobbie returned to her work at the New Bolton Center Hospital for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and the couple lived in Kennett Square, where Bobbie also began to manage the business side of André's sculpting. André's first studio was in a milk shed along Red Clay Creek, and he would work on sculpture at night after finishing his work with Parks. He displayed and sold his first pieces at the Gallery at Centerville, Delaware. The first sculpture they sold was "Pond Dancer," the jumping frog. By 1972, André's bronze castings were also on view at the George B. Scarlett Gallery outside Kennett Square. It was here that Betsy Wyeth purchased "Samuel," the box turtle, and word spread about André's sculpture. The News-Journal began to cover his work. André's visibility increased further, when he was invited to do display his work in five windows at the Tiffany & Co. store in Manhattan. The increased demand for André's sculpture and the work Bobbie was doing to promote it meant that she began working fewer and fewer hours at New Bolton. She eventually became more interested in managing the business and left to devote herself full-time to the business of art. By the mid-1970s, the Harveys had built a following and fully immersed themselves in the work. They discuss the role that Frank Fowler, the Wyeths, and other people played in helping them get their business off the ground.The Harveys then go into greater depth about the life cycle of a sculpture. André discusses his sources of inspiration in nature, and how an idea becomes a work of bronze, explaining the lost-wax process of casting, discussing the importance of the fine art foundries with which he has worked in creating the finished pieces, and going over the challenges and problems that are inherent in the process, such as designing large pieces so they can be assembled on-site. He explains how Bobbie offers encouragement and guidance and critical feedback on his sculptures during the process. Bobbie explains how she helps to bring each piece of art out into the world, discusses how she maintains client lists and provenance records, serves as a broker when needed for resales, how they built a market and following, their advertising and publication strategy, the process of photographing the work and displaying it in a gallery, the move away from selling through galleries to starting their own studio and managing their own sales, and explains why direct selling was ultimately much better for them than working through galleries.
Interview with André and Bobbie Harvey, Session 2, 2017 June 16
In this interview, André and Bobbie Harvey discuss the training, experiences, and travels that led them to the art world, the sculpture business they built together beginning in the 1970s, and the process of bringing a piece of art into the world, from conception to execution to exhibition to sale. They also reflect on the cultural and historical conditions that influenced their decision to pursue careers in art, and the personal and mutual satisfactions of following artistic passion and cultivating community connections.In session 2, the Harveys reflect more on their educational and parental influences, tell the story of how they met, and discuss the cultural context of the 1960s and the Vietnam War as important influences on their decision to travel to Europe and attempt to create a less conventional life for themselves. They also talk about how they have secured access to the animals and other natural forms that have been the focus of much of André's work. Bobbie's work at New Bolton Center was crucial in getting André access to some of the large farm animals he sculpted. The pair also pursued connections to biologists around the country and remote places around the world in order to witness the hatching of sea turtles or see a monk seal close up. They also discuss how computing and the internet have changed the craft and business of sculpture, from new processes like rapid prototyping to the move toward putting photographs of the work on the web, which was not without problems—the pair discuss the difficulties they have had with knockoffs coming out of foundries in Asia. André discusses his collaboration with goldsmith Donald Pywell starting in 1989–1990 to create jewelry based on his designs, and the differences between working with large forms in bronze and much smaller forms in gold.
Interview with Colonel J. Victor Dallin, 1969 July 17 [audio]
Original Ch. 1 mono. Very low audio level. Several instances of noise causing cllipping. Side 1 ends at 01:34:51. Levels adjusted for side 2., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Dallin Aerial Survey Company photographs (Accession 1970.200), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas Kellogg, 2002-02-15 [audio]
Discussion includes designs for the Avanti, Starcraft, Wedgewood and various vehicles., Thomas Kellogg was an industrial designer who worked with Raymond Loewy on the Avanti sports car for the Studebaker-Packard Corporation., Split tracks with spill over. Side one ends at 00:42:26:00. Clipping occurs during subject coughing and in setup in beginning., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Thomas W. Kellogg oral history interview (Accession 2015.275.001), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas Kellogg, 2002-02-15 [transcript]
Discussion includes designs for the Avanti, Starcraft, Wedgewood and various vehicles., Thomas Kellogg was an industrial designer who worked with Raymond Loewy on the Avanti sports car for the Studebaker-Packard Corporation., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Thomas W. Kellogg oral history interview (Accession 2015.275.001), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807