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.

Search Collection

Interview with Ethel Jones Hayward, 1987 April 4 [audio]
Hayward describes Christmas traditions along the Brandywine, including decorations, foods prepared, and gifts received. She also describes family life during her early childhood, including daily life, clothing, and her doll collection.
Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1987 February 3 [audio]
Cheney discusses details of her childhood in Free Park, including the family's canning traditions and chicken coop, how they made their clothing or shopped in Wilmington, parties and events at Hagley Community House, an explosion that injured her foot, and her education, and later teaching career, at Alexis I. du Pont School. Her interview details various Christmas traditions during her childhood, including how the tree was decorated, baking cookies and cakes, gift exchanges, the candy and orange that the children received from Henry Francis du Pont, and how homemade ornaments were created.
Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1987 October 2 [audio]
Cheney discusses some of her family's Christmas traditions as well as those of Hagley in general. Moreover, she details childhood memories of everyday life in Free Park, including the games the children played, chores, and various childhood illnesses. Her interview also discusses her teacher training at the University of Delaware and her later teaching career.