Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 January 31 [audio](part 2)

Hagley ID:
  • Birth and early life; Education in Quaker schools; Quaker social networks
    Partial Transcript: "My father was principal of a Quaker school in Plainfield, Indiana... I was born in Plainfield on September 11th 1883... I have never been back... then we came to Wilmington..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talks about his early childhood. He says that his father was a principal at a Quaker school in Wilmington, Del. His father also taught English and elocution. He says that he came up through Quaker schools. He talks about his time as a student at Westtown School. He talks about his education afterward.
    Keywords: Plainfield, In.; Quakers; Sports; Westtown School; Wilmington, Del.
  • Preparing for college, but joining the family business instead; Family involvement in the leather factory; Chemical developments in the leather industry
    Partial Transcript: "I had wanted to be a doctor... in those days you didn't have to have undergraduate college...I believe I took preparations to go to University of Pennsylvania's medical school."
    Synopsis: Rhoads explains that he wanted to go to medical school, but his uncles wanted him to join the family leather business. He describes his early years in the company. He says that he eventually spent a year at the University of Pennsylvania, learning chemistry. He regrets not getting a chance to study medicine. He talks about other family members ho worked in the family business. He talks about applying chemistry to leather manufacture. He says that labs in leather factories were not yet common.
    Keywords: Chemsitry; J.E. Rhoads and Sons Inc.; University of Pennsylvania
  • Manufacturing capacity at J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc.; Rhoads work at J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc.; Trade associations
    Partial Transcript: "Nearly all of these skins were imported from India, China, South America, and Mexico..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talks about the manufacturing capacity at J.E. Rhoads & Sons. He describes the use of different kinds of leather in clothes and other accessories. Rhoads talks about his own work in the lab at his family's factory and in the quality control department. He talks about applying chemistry in the leather industry. He talks about the role of trade associations
    Keywords: Chemistry; Clothes; J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc.; Leather; Manufacturing; Manufacturing capacity; Quality Control; Shoes; Trade associations
  • Tariffs, exports, and selling leather; Developing waterproof cement for leather
    Partial Transcript: "We have to pay duty on imported material... in some cases tariffs have been a handicap, we used to have quite a business in Canada...""We very urgently needed a waterproof cement..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talks about exporting and importing materials, and paying the tariffs and duties for those goods. He talks about foreign competition and notes that cheap labor in other countries makes it difficult to compete. He talks about joining the Tanner's Council of America. He talks about imports before World War I. He talks about developing a waterpoof leather cement. He describes the costs of manufacturing the cement and the chemicals involved.
    Keywords: Duties; Exports; Kid leather; Labor; Leather belting; Sales; Shoes; Tanner's Council of America; Tariffs; Waterproofing; World War (1914-1918)
  • Measuring leather; Influence of Quaker religion on doing business
    Partial Transcript: " uncles would refuse to sell on straight military orders... would refuse to sell to breweries or distilleries... I'm trying to recall if we sold any to tobacco people or not..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads explains how much leather is in a roll of leather. He explains that rolls contain different amounts of leather due to the thickness of different leather products. Rhoads talks about the impact his family's faith had on their business decision. He talks about World War II and says they didn't look for war work, but fulfilled small orders in the event of emergencies. When working with their customers who were doing war work they did business with customers who whose work capacity was less than 50% devoted to war work. He says that at that time they tried to do business with distributors to get around their own rules.
    Keywords: Boston, Mass.; Distributors; Leather; Measurements; Quakers; Religion; World War (1914-1918); World War (1939-1945)

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