Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department

About this collection

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.

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Interview with Bill Forehand, 2007 December 10
Forehand's interview details time spent developing wind-ups as well as the segregated atmosphere between men and women and different races in the DuPont Company in the 1950s. He also details his experiences in manufacturing and changes in the yarn industry. He discusses time abroad working in Germany and his family's adjustment to the new situation. Forehand's time in Germany was very meaningful, and DuPont invited all of the families back for a 25-year anniversary after they had worked there. He returned to manufacturing yarn at Cape Fear, ultimately moving to process engineering. He also discusses the change in the nature of supervising throughout the history of the company - from hands-on awareness of both home and work situations to a more generic hands-off approach beginning in the mid-1960s. Moreover, he discusses the impact of technology on company processes., Bill Forehand (b. 1930, Dixon, North Carolina) attended Wake Forest University for chemistry, working first in the automotive industry in Indiana and then at Kinston in 1957, working in the spinning departments at Kinston and at Cape Fear., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Daniel "Dan" Gintis, 2008 March 05
Interview primarily relates to Gintis' role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Frank Reickert, 2008 March 06
Frank Reickert briefly mentions his early life in Poughkeepsie and his college education before delving into his first position with DuPont as a design engineer at Seaford, mentioning several early projects. He then discusses the various positions he held in the maintenance department. Among other projects, Reickert describes a special assignment in which he developed a plan to shift from a system of single-skill mechanics to general mechanics and the way in which he convinced the union rep of the plan's efficacy. He also mentions the safety audit procedures in place at Seaford and has commentary on the levels of management he observed, which he thought was excessive yet appropriate for the time period of booming business. He then speaks of the 8 years he spent in Jack Sigmund's Wilmington office, primarily as a facilitator and coordinator for various projects and committees. About this period, Reickert goes into detail about the wind-up committee he oversaw, which consisted of maintenance personnel from all the plants that had wind-ups and had members from other departments as well. The committee was formed to exchange information in order to improve the maintenance, operability, and performance of high-speed wind-ups. He also mentions a project on surface coatings he facilitated with the engineering department, which sought to reduce wear and improve product quality. He also details the paperwork involved in producing construction forecasts and his push to computerize them. Near the end of his interview, Reickert discusses his work in the General Services Department, highlighting a project to redesign and renovate the executive offices of Conoco after that company's purchase by DuPont. He also briefly discusses his post-retirement consulting work, remarking on the amazement of companies at how much money they could save by enforcing safety regulations in the workplace. Throughout the interview, Reickert names other individuals who worked with him., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807, Frank Reickert (b. Poughkeepsie, New York) spent 30 years with the DuPont Co., 22 of which in the Textile Fibers Department in both Seaford and Wilmington. He joined the Seaford Nylon plant as a design engineer after completing a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Vermont in 1960. From design, he transferred to maintenance, where he held several positions. He joined the Jack Sigmund's office staff for the textile group in Wilmington in 1974, where he oversaw construction forecasts, projects with the engineering department, and an interdepartmental wind-up committee. He transferred to General Services in 1982, where he had responsibility for the design section and the construction group. Reickert retired in 1990 but continued as a consultant for DuPont on industrial safety for nine years.
Interview with Pete Sargeant, 2008 May 07
Interview primarily relates to Sargeant's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Bill Coley, Jr., 2008 May 12
Coley's interview details his work creating prototypes of spinning machines, his development of the two-end wind-up and the steam draw process, and DuPont Co.'s ability to foster his creative spirit., A self-described "tinkerer," Bill Coley (b. 1925, Wendell, North Carolina) spent his entire career working on Rayon for the DuPont Co. Having grown up in a tenant farm family in the South, he was hired on a military base after high school and then enlisted in the Navy. After getting out of the service, he managed a tobacco farm. His boss urged him to go to North Carolina State University, where he knew the registrar, while he worked part time. Afterwards, he joined the technical department of the DuPont Kinston, North Carolina, facility., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Vann Winfree, 2008 May 20
Interview primarily relates to Winfree's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Michael D. "Mike" Butler, 2008 May 27
Interview primarily relates to Butler's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Ronald A. "Ron" Lear, 2008 June 10
Interview primarily relates to Lear's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with J. Thomas "Tom" Mills, 2008 June 10
Interview primarily relates to Mills' role in marketing at DuPont Co., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with John P. Hendrix, 2008 June 16
Interview primarily relates to Hendrix's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Thomas J. "Tom" Colven, 2008 July 14
Interview primarily relates to Colven's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Alvin L. "Al" Acker, Jr., 2008 July 24
Acker's interview provides a perspective on plant engineering during the 1950s through the 1980s with a focus on Nylon fiber plants in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Camden, South Carolina; Waynesboro, Virginia; and corporate Wilmington, Delaware. The interview includes details on plant construction, manufacturing processes and organizational changes, such as the move from plant based to regional and centralized engineering services over time. Also discussed are trends in unionization and cost reduction by moving from craft oriented to multiskilled labor., Alvin Acker (b. 1925) graduated in 1950 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and began working for DuPont in Chattanooga in September 1950 as a Student Operator in Textiles. This position entailed stringing the draw twist machines. He held positions as Engineering Shift Supervisor, Design Engineer, and Departmental Engineer. Acker retired in 1985., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Richard "Dick" Goodley, 2008 July 26
Interview primarily relates to Goodley's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Rex Bannister, 2008 August 15
Interview primarily relates to Bannister's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with William Chantry, 2008 August 15
Chantry's interview includes discussion of his work on patents on tire yarn, in the polyester and nylon and steam jet departments, and his work advising on Nylon in Romania., Bill Chantry (b. 1924, Corning, Iowa) attended the University of Iowa, graduating in 1949 with a degree in chemical engineering, after serving in World War II from 1942-1946. He worked for Sherwin Williams briefly before obtaining his masters and then his PhD from Cornell, where he received a DuPont fellowship. Chantry pursued a job at Shell Chemical instead of DuPont's job offers because of better pay and location. He decided to return to DuPont at the Kinston plant in industrials in 1959, working in the tire yarn business until 1981. He was eventually promoted in Wilmington. He kept diaries throughout his career at DuPont outlining his life and accomplishments. He retired in 1990 after 31 years with the DuPont Co., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Hans Frankfort, 2008 August 16
Interview primarily relates to Frankfort's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with James V. "Vic" Hartzog, 2008 August 20
Hartzog details his work on silicone and slickner processes in the late 1960's and 1970's, his development of a crimp tailgate which solved problems and improved the type 106 staple, and his work on Fiberfil and antimicrobial technologies., Vic Hartzog (b. 1937, Reeseville, South Carolina) spent his entire career on the staple side at the DuPont Kinston, North Carolina, plant after receiving his PhD in 1967 from Clemson University. Over the course of his career, he received 10-12 patents., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with James M. "Jim" Heatherly, 2008 August 27
Interview primarily relates to Heatherly's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Paul Kende, 2008 September 13
Interview primarily relates to Kende's role in engineering at DuPont Co., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Frank H. Overton, 2008 September 16
Interview primarily relates to Overton's role in the DuPont Co.'s Nylon business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with David Bosley, 2008 September 24
Interview primarily relates to Bosley's role in the DuPont Co.'s Dacron business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Bob Forney, 2008 September 24
Forney's interview chronicles the development of a continuous polymerization process for polyester fibers, including the use of the two-step pre-polymerization process, for the prototype at Seaford and the implementation at Kinston, where he moved to supervise the project. Forney also discusses his experience concerning the development of EFT and his work at Old Hickory as assistant plant manager. He also discusses the modernization of Nylon spinners in Wilmington., After completing a PhD in chemical engineering in 1950, Bob Forney (b. 1927, Chicago, Illinois) decided to work for DuPont Co. because he was interested in fiber developments, beginning in the Carothers Research Laboratory at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware working on Rayon production processes. He later moved from process to research, working on the development of ETF. He was the assistant plant manager at Old Hickory beginning in 1959, supervising the retraining of Rayon employees to work with Dacron, including beginning a night school to help workers learn to read and write. He eventually moved to marketing in the 1960s., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with Jude Foxall, 2008 September 24
Interview primarily relates to Foxall's role in the DuPont Co.'s Nylon business., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807
Interview with John "Jack" Brand, 2008 October 01
Interview primarily relates to Brand's role in engineering at DuPont Co., [Description and dates], Hagley ID, Box/folder number, Oral history interviews with former employees of DuPont Company's Textile Fibers Department (Accession 2010.215), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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