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 Samuel Hackendorn, 1958 July 24 [audio]
Hackendorn describes growing up along the Brandywine, including his schooling at St. Joseph's on the Brandywine, games the children would play, the family home in Free Park, his first job at a cotton mill, and his impressions of various members of the du Pont family. He also describes his career working in different companies.
Interview with Faith Betty Lattomus and Madaline Betty Walls, 1969 June 12, 1969 June 25 [audio]
The first part of the interview describes their family history, the houses in Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row, the political opinions of residents in the community, their education at A.I. du Pont School, and the various transfers of property that occurred in the area. The second part of the interview concerns guard duties around the property, interactions with members of the du Pont family, the children's entertainments and sports, holiday parties, different businesses in the community and in Wilmington, and daily life.
Interview with Stuart Taylor, 1969 July 22 [audio]
Taylor describes Wilmington in the early twentieth century, including the ethnic makeup of the city, pastimes of young people, learning his trade, the temperance movement, healthcare in the city, church and community life, and other day-to-day routines in the early 1900s. He also describes working conditions during his career.
Interview with Martin Dillon, 1969 July 28 [audio](part 1)
Dillon describes in detail the process of hauling willows, including cutting them down, peeling them, tools and techniques used, and caring for the horses. He also describes farm life at the turn of the century, including the business aspect of farming.
Interview with Daniel Toomey, 1969 August 7 [audio](part 1)
Toomey describes the house and the neighborhood in which he was born, transportation in the early twentieth century, holiday celebrations, healthcare, and daily life growing up.
Interview with Daniel Toomey, 1969 August 7 [audio](part 2)
Toomey describes the house and the neighborhood in which he was born, transportation in the early twentieth century, holiday celebrations, healthcare, and daily life growing up.
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 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 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 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 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 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.

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