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 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 Ethel Jones Hayward, 1989 January 18 [audio]
Hayward discusses laundry day growing up, medical care, trips into the city, and her impressions of the du Pont family.
Interview with Bertha Gregg, 1989 March 17 [audio]
Gregg describes her duties at Hagley. Her interview describes her courtship and early years of marriage with her husband, Pete, a grocer; a flu epidemic that she suffered during a pregnancy; her family history; daily life in Wilmington; and holiday and special traditions.
Interview with Bertha Gregg, 1989 March 23 [audio]
Gregg describes her duties at Hagley. Her interview describes her courtship and early years of marriage with her husband, Pete, a grocer; a flu epidemic that she suffered during a pregnancy; her family history; daily life in Wilmington; and holiday and special traditions.
Interview with Mary Braden Jackson, 1989 January 19 [audio]
Jackson's fifth and final interview details the laundry process, how her mother made clothes, and her relationship with her stepmother.