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 Ferdinand D. Bickel, 1959 February 20 [audio]
Bickel details different developments in the explosives industry, including the development of Duco and Nitramon, the company's explosives training, the DuPont Company culture, and the relationship between branches of the overall organization. He ultimately transferred back to Wilmington in 1944.
Interview with Ferdinand D. Bickel, 1959 February 27 [audio]
Bickel details different developments in the explosives industry, including the development of Duco and Nitramon, the company's explosives training, the DuPont Company culture, and the relationship between branches of the overall organization. He ultimately transferred back to Wilmington in 1944.
Interview with Maurice du Pont Lee, 1969 February 6-7 [audio](part 1)
Lee describes his high school and college education in detail, the influence of his cousin Louis Cazenove on his interest in engineering, his work for the company in Hannibal, Missouri, various explosions, his work in smokeless powder and the expansion of Carney's Point, his move from explosives to dye stuffs, and the company's international dealings during World War I. Lee also describes his family, including his mother, Alfred I. du Pont, Lee's role in helping his cousins gain their inheritance, and various family members' leadership qualities. Furthermore, he discusses the building of A.I. du Pont hospital and interactions with his coworkers.
Interview with Maurice du Pont Lee, 1969 February 6-7 [audio](part 2)
Lee describes his high school and college education in detail, the influence of his cousin Louis Cazenove on his interest in engineering, his work for the company in Hannibal, Missouri, various explosions, his work in smokeless powder and the expansion of Carney's Point, his move from explosives to dye stuffs, and the company's international dealings during World War I. Lee also describes his family, including his mother, Alfred I. du Pont, Lee's role in helping his cousins gain their inheritance, and various family members' leadership qualities. Furthermore, he discusses the building of A.I. du Pont hospital and interactions with his coworkers.
Interview with Benjamin F. Foster, 1964 February 24 [audio](part 1)
Foster describes his working career at DuPont, including the various plants in which he worked, the installation of electrical lighting, engineering work, salaries and wages, and transferring to South America. He also describes the establishment of the Hotel du Pont, the building of homes for various du Pont family members, and his impressions of du Pont family members.
Interview with Benjamin F. Foster, 1964 February 28 [audio](part 2)
Foster describes his working career at DuPont, including the various plants in which he worked, the installation of electrical lighting, engineering work, salaries and wages, and transferring to South America. He also describes the establishment of the Hotel du Pont, the building of homes for various du Pont family members, and his impressions of du Pont family members.
Interview with W. J. Beadle, 1962 June 19 [audio]
Beadle describes his career with DuPont in the paint operations division, and later the development department and the treasury department. He also describes DuPont's relationship with General Motors, how DuPont acquired different companies and expanded in the 1920s and 1930s, and the motivations of the management, including the trajectory of development within the corporation. He describes the beginnings of DuPont International, his movement to the financial aspect of the business, his impressions of du Pont family members, and developing pension and trust plans.
Interview with Ferdinand D. Bickel, 1969 June 12, 1969 June 25 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Ferdinand D. Bickel who worked for DuPont's explosives department. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Benjamin F. Foster, 1964 February [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Benjamin Foster who worked for the Power Division of Engineering Department. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.