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 Pierre Ferraro and Eugene Ferraro, 1955 June 13 [audio]
The Ferraros describes explosions in 1890, 1898, and 1915, the villages along the Brandywine, the political views of the workers, various impressions of members of the du Pont family, and life in Walker's Bank, including entertainment, wages, and chores.
Interview with Joseph A. Haley, 1955 February 23 [audio]
Haley describes his impressions of Alfred I. du Pont, his working career with the company, entertainment and amusement along the Brandywine, and the various aspects of the powder business.
Interview with Katherine Collison, 1954 September, 1955 January [audio]
Collison describes the house itself and the hardworking maids who lived there; how the children played and entertained themselves at the powder yards; various explosions and the reactions of the families; the cultural and social makeup of the community; and Collison's relationship with members of the du Pont family, including her friendship with Sophie du Pont.
Interview with John E. Krauss, 1958 May 14 [audio](part 1)
Krauss describes his father's working career, including an incident in which Mr. Krauss asked Mr. Francis G. du Pont not to smoke a cigar near the powder mill. His interview describes his childhood at Squirrel Run, including his education at A.I. du Pont School, his summer jobs in the mill at Hagley, his impressions of du Pont family members, and his later working career at DuPont.
Interview with John E. Krauss, 1958 May 14 [audio](part 2)
Krauss describes his father's working career, including an incident in which Mr. Krauss asked Mr. Francis G. du Pont not to smoke a cigar near the powder mill. His interview describes his childhood at Squirrel Run, including his education at A.I. du Pont School, his summer jobs in the mill at Hagley, his impressions of du Pont family members, and his later working career at DuPont.
Interview with John E. Krauss, 1958 May 28 [audio](part 3)
Krauss describes his father's working career, including an incident in which Mr. Krauss asked Mr. Francis G. du Pont not to smoke a cigar near the powder mill. His interview describes his childhood at Squirrel Run, including his education at A.I. du Pont School, his summer jobs in the mill at Hagley, his impressions of du Pont family members, and his later working career at DuPont.
Interview with Joseph H. Martin, 1956 November 8-9 [audio](part 1)
Martin describes in detail various members of the du Pont family and anecdotes about them, including Francis I. du Pont, Alfred I. du Pont, Colonel A. Henry du Pont, and T. Coleman du Pont. He also discusses the explosion of 1890.
Interview with Joseph H. Martin, 1956 November 8-9 [audio](part 2)
Martin describes in detail various members of the du Pont family and anecdotes about them, including Francis I. du Pont, Alfred I. du Pont, Colonel A. Henry du Pont, and T. Coleman du Pont. He also discusses the explosion of 1890.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 1)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 2)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 16 [audio](part 3)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 16 [audio](part 4)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 30 [audio]
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 30 [audio]
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Clarence L. Walker, 1956 October 26 [audio]
Walker describes the process of peeling and cutting willows to burn for charcoal, how his friend obtained a job from A.I. du Pont, and his impressions of various members of the du Pont family. He also tells a story about Annie Oakley.
Interview with Edward B. Cheney, 1958 June 5 [audio](part 1)
Cheney describes the neighborhoods at Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row and the families who lived there. He describes how the du Pont family arranged for his brother to learn Greek because it interested him. He also notes how conflicts were resolved among workers and their families. He also includes poems about his childhood. His interview details his education, interactions with du Pont family members, including Mrs. Crowninshield and her Sunday School class, an accident concerning his brother George, and his later career with the company.
Interview with Edward B. Cheney, 1958 June 5 [audio](part 2)
Cheney describes the neighborhoods at Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row and the families who lived there. He describes how the du Pont family arranged for his brother to learn Greek because it interested him. He also notes how conflicts were resolved among workers and their families. He also includes poems about his childhood. His interview details his education, interactions with du Pont family members, including Mrs. Crowninshield and her Sunday School class, an accident concerning his brother George, and his later career with the company.
Interview with Edward B. Cheney, 1958 June 13 [audio](part 1)
Cheney describes the neighborhoods at Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row and the families who lived there. He describes how the du Pont family arranged for his brother to learn Greek because it interested him. He also notes how conflicts were resolved among workers and their families. He also includes poems about his childhood. His interview details his education, interactions with du Pont family members, including Mrs. Crowninshield and her Sunday School class, an accident concerning his brother George, and his later career with the company.
Interview with Edward B. Cheney, 1958 June 13 [audio](part 2)
Cheney describes the neighborhoods at Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row and the families who lived there. He describes how the du Pont family arranged for his brother to learn Greek because it interested him. He also notes how conflicts were resolved among workers and their families. He also includes poems about his childhood. His interview details his education, interactions with du Pont family members, including Mrs. Crowninshield and her Sunday School class, an accident concerning his brother George, and his later career with the company.
Interview with William H. Buchanan, 1958 August 7 [audio]
Buchanan's interview touches on many subjects including details of his father's work, his reminisces about home and social life in the community, his memories of Alfred I. du Pont, and details about powder yard explosions.
Interview with William H. Buchanan, 1958 August 7 [audio]
Buchanan's interview touches on many subjects including details of his father's work, his reminisces about home and social life in the community, his memories of Alfred I. du Pont, and details about powder yard explosions.
Interview with Chandler Becker [audio]
Becker describes how he was hired as the assistant superintendent of Eleutherian Mills and how Louise du Pont Crowninshield took an interest in him and asked him to be the groundskeeper. He describes the unkempt state of the grounds when he arrived in 1928 and his plans to improve them, as well as how his job has changed over time. He also discusses his impressions of Mrs. Crowninshield, his home along the Brandywine, improvements made to the house throughout the years, and preparations for going to Boca Grande.
Interview with William H. Buchanan, 1958 August 7 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with William H. Buchanan recalling life on the Brandywine while his father worked for DuPont. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Katherine Collison, 1954 September, 1955 January [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Katherine Collison recalling life on the Brandywine while living in Belin House during the time her father was a bookeeper. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.

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