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 Ella Fitzharris, 1985 August 8 [audio](part 2)
Fitzharris recalls in more detail about some of the subjects she has discussed in prior interviews. Some topics include coal wagons, home sewing, homemade alcohol, style of dress during mourning periods, household furniture and appliances, toys and hobbies, and types of meals cooked in the home.
Interview with Thomas Dunlop, 1985 April 19 [audio]
Dunlop describes floods along the Brandywine, the celebration of the Scottish holiday of Hugmanah, various items in the household, his father's garden, and medical care.
Interview with Mary Sweeney Gibson, 1980 May 13 [audio]
Gibson describes an explosion that killed her mother's first husband, her education at St. Joseph's, cooking and shopping, medical care, holiday celebrations, and peeling willows. She also describes her family's history and emigration from Ireland.
Interview with James Gamble, 1984 June 21 [audio](part 1)
Gamble describes his family's history and various artifacts received from family members, his grandfather and father's careers with DuPont and in stone quarries, his first jobs, typical foods and chores, and taverns and businesses in Wilmington.
Interview with James Gamble, 1984 June 21 [audio](part 2)
Gamble describes his family's history and various artifacts received from family members, his grandfather and father's careers with DuPont and in stone quarries, his first jobs, typical foods and chores, and taverns and businesses in Wilmington.
Interview with Walter Aurand, 1981 May 14 [audio]
Influenced by his high school teacher and educated in chemistry at the University of Delaware, Walter describes life in Wilmington during the early twentieth century. His interview details a work atmosphere at DuPont, a powder explosion that killed three women, testing the bullets in New Castle, and safety in the workplace.
Interview with Alfred Dougherty, 1984 June 29 [audio]
Dougherty describes the houses in Free Park and in Breck's Lane in detail, as well as common practices in the early twentieth century, including shopping, food preparation, and entertainment. He also describes his wedding in detail as well as his younger sister's funeral.
Interview with Reefa Hackendorn [audio]
Hackendorn recounts stories from her husband's childhood along the Brandywine. Eugene Hackendorn worked as a time keeper for the DuPont Company and was one of two men who survived an explosion. She also describes the family's religion and the children's pastimes.
Interview with Donald Hallam, 1980 September 2 [audio]
Hallam describes his father's childhood along the Brandywine at Bancroft Mills, including entertainment, pranks, and chores. He describes the house in which his father grew up in detail. His mother also recounts working for Bancroft during the war. Hallam describes his own childhood growing up in Wilmington.
Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 6 [audio](part 1)
Kindbeiter describes community life at Hagley, including church life at St. Joseph's, the house layout, the Gun Club, children's pastimes and entertainments, daily chores, and Christmas and holiday traditions.
Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 6 [audio](part 2)
Kindbeiter describes community life at Hagley, including church life at St. Joseph's, the house layout, the Gun Club, children's pastimes and entertainments, daily chores, and Christmas and holiday traditions.
Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 13 [audio]
Kindbeiter describes Christmas traditions, the introduction of electricity, various pranks the children would play, saloons and businesses in the community, and various anecdotes about community members and du Pont family members. He also talks about his working career at the Experimental Station, including his mentor Leon Lloyd.
Interview with Martina Lawless, 1984 February 21 [audio](part 1)
Lawless discusses daily life and chores, the hotel in which the family lived, an explosion in the Packing House, the Catholic community at St. Joseph's, medical care, her education at Ursuline and Villamarie in West Chester, and weddings and baptisms.
Interview with Martina Lawless, 1984 February 21 [audio](part 2)
Lawless discusses daily life and chores, the hotel in which the family lived, an explosion in the Packing House, the Catholic community at St. Joseph's, medical care, her education at Ursuline and Villamarie in West Chester, and weddings and baptisms.
Interview with Faith Betty Lattomus, 1984 April 19 [audio](part 1)
Lattomus describes the layout and communities of the various villages along the Brandywine, her house in Wagoner's Row, chores and daily routines, transportation, and entertainments and parties. She also describes her involvement at Christ Church and teaching Sunday school there.
Interview with Faith Betty Lattomus, 1984 April 4 [audio](part 2)
Lattomus describes the layout and communities of the various villages along the Brandywine, her house in Wagoner's Row, chores and daily routines, transportation, and entertainments and parties. She also describes her involvement at Christ Church and teaching Sunday school there.
Interview with Jennie Sicco Leto, 1984 June 21 [audio]
Leto describes life along the Brandywine, including christenings, her grandmother's home and garden, her education, and entertainments and amusements. She also describes her family's history and emigration from Italy, Christmas traditions, and impression of various du Pont family members.
Interview with Ralph Beech Brown, 1981 April 28 [audio]
Brown's interview details his childhood in Newark, Cecil County, and Wilmington, his experiences as a carnival worker, the working environment and explosions at the powder mill, and his experience as an electrician at the Playhouse Theatre.
Interview with James Cammock, Herb Devenney, Edward Devenney, and Jim Kindbeiter, 1984 May 9 [audio](part 1)
Herb Devenney, Ed Devenney, James Cammock, and James Kindbeiter, sons of powder mill workers, reminisce about growing up at Hagley in this group interview and tour of the museum grounds. Some topics of discussion include daily life of the workers and their families, identification of various families and their living spaces, schedules and duties of the powder mill workers, and various changes that had occurred in the last century.
Interview with James Cammock, Herb Devenney, Edward Devenney, and Jim Kindbeiter, 1984 May 9 [audio](part 2)
Herb Devenney, Ed Devenney, James Cammock, and James Kindbeiter, sons of powder mill workers, reminisce about growing up at Hagley in this group interview and tour of the museum grounds. Some topics of discussion include daily life of the workers and their families, identification of various families and their living spaces, schedules and duties of the powder mill workers, and various changes that had occurred in the last century.
Interview with Anthony W. Grieco, 1988 October 7 [audio]
Grieco describes his daily job responsibilities in the box shop and his soldering work, explosions that occurred at the packing house during his working career, race riots in Chester, and his life in a boarding house. He also describes daily life in Wilmington, including weekend entertainment.
Interview with James Cammock, 1984 April 9 [audio]
Cammock describes daily life on the Brandywine for families of mill workers; celebrations for the Fourth of July and Memorial Day; and general descriptions of the mills and his home at Breck's Lane.
Interview with James Cammock, 1984 July 24 [audio]
Cammock provides many details about how he tended to his garden at Breck's Lane, including the procurement of seeds, various equipment used, standard gardening clothes, different types of fruits and vegetables and flowers planted, fertilizing practices, and the harvest and storage of crops. He also discusses maintaining a chicken coop.
Interview with Ella Fitzharris, 1980 May 5 [audio](part 1)
Fitzharris discusses life in the Brandywine area including the types of clothing she wore, childhood activities, chores, other topics associated with daily home life, and social activities such as the Fourth of July picnic, weddings, and church gatherings.
Interview with Ella Fitzharris, 1980 May 5 [audio](part 2)
Fitzharris discusses life in the Brandywine area including the types of clothing she wore, childhood activities, chores, other topics associated with daily home life, and social activities such as the Fourth of July picnic, weddings, and church gatherings.

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