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 Oliver Collins, 1972 July 6-7 [audio]
Collins describes how he was trained as a miller, how his business expanded, the different crops ground at his facility, the process of grinding corn and wheat, different grades of flour produced, and explosions that occurred in the mill business. He also discusses the role of grain elevators in the mill process.
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 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 Philip Dougherty, 1955 January 12 [audio]
Dougherty recalls what he remembers about his father's and his own work, the homes in the Charles' Banks area near Hagley, explosions in 1889, 1890, and 1898, activities around the Brandywine, and memories of people in the area.
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 Daniel F. Shields, 1958 March 19 [audio]
Shields describes his working career at DuPont, including various explosions, his impressions of du Pont family members, and anecdotes about other employees.
Interview with Richard F. Rowe, 1968 July 9 [audio](part 1)
Rowe discusses swimming in the Brandywine during the summer. He also recounts an incident in which he saved a drowning girl. He talks about his father's death, sickness, crime, and superstitions.
Interview with Richard F. Rowe, 1968 July 9 [audio](part 2)
Rowe discusses swimming in the Brandywine during the summer. He also recounts an incident in which he saved a drowning girl. He talks about his father's death, sickness, crime, and superstitions.
Interview with William Frederick Lynch, 1956 October 5 [audio](part 1)
Lynch describes the opening of the Experimental Station, explosions that occurred during his working career, his job responsibilities, and his work on the volunteer fire company. He also discusses the company during World War I and his impressions of du Pont family members.
Interview with William Frederick Lynch, 1956 October 5 [audio](part 2)
Lynch describes the opening of the Experimental Station, explosions that occurred during his working career, his job responsibilities, and his work on the volunteer fire company. He also discusses the company during World War I and his impressions of du Pont family members.
Interview with Philip Dougherty, 1955 February 16 [audio]
Dougherty recalls what he remembers about his father's and his own work, the homes in the Charles' Banks area near Hagley, explosions in 1889, 1890, and 1898, activities around the Brandywine, and memories of people in the area.
Interview with Harry E. Lee, 1955 February 2 [audio]
Lee discusses his career at DuPont, including transportation, his impressions of various members of the du Pont family, the company during wartime, and an explosion at Hagley in 1914. He also briefly touches on daily life in Wilmington at this time.
Interview with Vance Mitchell with Joseph Dougherty, 1968 July 12 [audio]
Mitchell describes his childhood and his parents' hauling business, including hazards of the trade, the introduction of the truck in transportation, and the basic job responsibilities. He also discusses his work at DuPont and at Bethlehem Steel during World War I. He reminisces about an explosion that occurred at Bethlehem Steel, the handling of shells after the end of the war, headaches that occurred from TNT and smokeless powder, and concerns about sabotage. The interview also features commentary from Joseph Dougherty.
Interview with Edward L. Bader, 1956 November 23 [audio](part 1)
Bader's interview offers details on many aspects of workers' lives in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including pay rates, the workers' homes, and the conditions in the laboratory. He recounts many different explosions, including the 1906 explosion that killed "Buck" Buchanan, the 1908 Press Room Explosion, the Packing House Explosion, one that occurred in the mill, and another that occurred in 1915. His interview also details his impressions of various members of the du Pont family, including Francis G., Lammot, Alfred I., Pierre S., Alexis, and Francis I.
Interview with Edward L. Bader, 1956 November 23 [audio](part 2)
Bader's interview offers details on many aspects of workers' lives in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including pay rates, the workers' homes, and the conditions in the laboratory. He recounts many different explosions, including the 1906 explosion that killed "Buck" Buchanan, the 1908 Press Room Explosion, the Packing House Explosion, one that occurred in the mill, and another that occurred in 1915. His interview also details his impressions of various members of the du Pont family, including Francis G., Lammot, Alfred I., Pierre S., Alexis, and Francis I.
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 Elizabeth Beacom, 1967 May 29 [audio]
Ms. Beacom recounts details about her father's work, life in Squirrel Run, an 1890 explosion, memories of Louise Crowninshield, and her own education and career which included work as Mrs. Crowninshield's secretary.
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.

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