Interview with John E. Miller, 1960 June 23 [audio]

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  • Early life and education; Job at Repauno; Job at du Pont and working in the Hawaiian Islands
    Partial Transcript: "We lived in western Pennsylvania, all our lives... near Clarion, Pennsylvania..."
    Synopsis: Miller talks about his family's nationality and home in Clarion, Pennsylvania. He says that he went to business college in Rochester, NY. and got a job in the Pittsburgh office of the Repauno Chemical Company. He describes that job and the type of explosives Repauno sold. He says that he worked for DuPont in Wilmington before getting moved to be an "export man" in their New York office. He talks about his coworkers. He says that after he became an "export man" and the company made him travel so that he could learn foreign markets. He talks about having worked in blasting around Pearl Harbor.
    Keywords: Business college; Clarion, Pa; Coal miners; Du Pont, Eugene E. (Eugene Eleuthè re), 1882-1966; Dynamite; Education; Pearl Harbor, Hi.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Repauno chemical Company; Rochester, Ny.
  • Learning Spanish while traveling through South America; Extracting sodium nitrate in Chile; Traveling to the Philippines; Selling powder; Working in San Francisco
    Partial Transcript: "I did learn some Spanish when I was out there..."
    Synopsis: Miller describes his travels through South America while working for DuPont. He says that he visited the nitrate fields in Chile and describes that area of the country. He describes how workers extracted the sodium nitrate to the ground. He talks about how DuPont sold gunpowder using a system of agents and other dealers. He says that he demonstrated and oversaw some of the blasting. He says that when he traveled to Hawaii and the Philippines he worked in San Francisco, Ca. He describes a trip that he and his wife took to China.
    Keywords: Argentina; Chile; China; Hawaiian Islands; Philippine Islands; Sales; San Francisco Ca.; Sodium nitrate; South America; Spanish language; Travel
  • Taking chemistry courses at the Y.M.C.A.; World War I; 1930s trips to the Philippines; Working with coal mines in West Virginia
    Partial Transcript: "I acquired as much chemical information as I could get... I just wanted to."
    Synopsis: Miller says that he took a chemistry class for personal curiosity. He talks about World War I. He says that he was in the Philippines in the 1930s and meant with Douglas MacArthur to talk about gunpowder. He says the he worked with coal mines in West Virginia.
    Keywords: Chemistry; Coal mines; Explosives; MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964; The Philippines; World War (1914-1918)
  • Working in San Francisco; DuPont's dissolution
    Partial Transcript: "Roosevelt's trust-busters had decided that DuPont controlled about 59 per cent of the explosives business in the United States, and that was the reason. Anything over 50 per cent was a trust, so we were a trust and he had decided to bust it up, which he proceeded to do."
    Synopsis: He talks about working in the Philippines and Japan. He talks about DuPont's dissolution and says he was on the witness stand multiple times during the court proceedings. He talks about DuPont's lawyers and legal staff during the break up. He explains that the hearings took place in Wilmington, Del. and Washington D.C.
    Keywords: China; Dissolution; Du Pont, Eugene E. (Eugene Eleuthè re), 1882-1966; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Hercules Powder Company; Japan; Laflin & Rand Company; San Francisco, Ca.; The Philippines; Trust busting; Trusts; Washington, D.C.; Wilmington, Del.
  • Changes to the dynamite and explosive business; Visiting Repauno's factories; Shipping explosives to the Philippines; Son's job at Hercules; Learning how to make black powder
    Partial Transcript: "About ten year later Alfred Nobel got a hold if it (nitroglycerin) and discovered he could control it..."
    Synopsis: Miller talks about the history of dynamite and explosives. He describes changes that her personally witnessed during his career spanning from 1900 to the latter part of the 1940s. He talks about visiting Repauno's factories. He talks about his son's job at Hercules. After talking about his son he resumes discussing the history of the dynamite and explosive industry during his career. He says that he also learned how to make black powder. He talks about people he worked with at DuPont
    Keywords: Black powder; Dynamite; Eastern Dynamite Company; Gold mining; Hercules Powder Company; Nitroglycerin; Repauno Chemical Company; The Philippines
  • Overseeing blasting near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii at the start of World War II; Shipping explosives; Explosive accidents
    Partial Transcript: "They were loaded from the bottom... had about twenty feet of solid rock over them... kept them protected from the bombing... supplied ammunition for all that Pacific Fleet..."
    Synopsis: Miller talks about being near Pearl Harbor at the start of World War II. He talks about loading ships with explosives and the costs of providing insurance. He describes the worst explosive accident he ever witnessed, at a quarry in Virginia. He says that a man smoking a cigarette caused the accident. He explains that he often traveled from his office to the docks in order to oversee ships being loaded with explosives.
    Keywords: Accidents; Insurance; Pearl Harbor, Hi.; San Francisco, Ca.; Shipping; Ships; World War (1939-1945)