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 Agnes Quinn [audio]
Quinn describes prohibition in Wilmington, shopping and making textiles, her relationship with her grandmother, the layout of the neighborhood, social activities at Breck's Mill, floods along the Brandywine, and running her tavern. She also describes Christmas traditions along the Brandywine, including attending church at dawn at St. Joseph's on the Brandywine, the decoration of the tree, sledding, and gifts received.
Interview with Edwin Zeuner, 1984 June 26 [audio]
Zeuner describes the daily life of those living in Wilmington in the first half of the twentieth century, including where people shopped, swimming and skating on the Brandywine, typical dress, and normal pay and working conditions in the millwright shop.
Interview with Carl Wise, 1984 February 27 [audio]
Wise describes his childhood growing up in Wilmington, including working for the DuPont box factory during his summers, delivering newspapers and milk, his education at Wilmington High School, and various customs and pastimes. He also briefly describes some highlights of his working career.
Interview with Eleanor Kane, 1984 February 21 [audio]
Kane describes her family history and her grandparents' home in detail, including the interior, backyard and garden, and their neighbors, the Seitz family. She describes her mother's childhood as well as her own childhood visiting her grandparents, including transportation, wedding traditions, and her grandfather's illness during his working career.
Interview with Eleanor Kane, 1984 February 21 [transcript]
Transcript of interview wtih Eleanor Kane who spent a lot of time visiting Free Park and whose mother grew up there. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Carl Wise, 1984 February 27 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Carl Wise who did not live or work in the Hagley area but does have reminisces of the area and daily life in Wilmington.
Interview with Edwin Zeuner, 1984 June 26 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Edwin Zeuner who lived in Wilmington but had a lot of acquaintances in the powder yards and whose father was a millwright for Dupont. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.