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 William Henry Miller, 1984 February 16 [audio]
Miller describes a detailed history of his family and how they came to America and began working for the DuPont Company. He also describes his father's childhood along the Brandywine in Henry Clay, including how the children would entertain themselves, and his relationship with Alfred I. du Pont.
Interview with Harvey L. Fell, 1968 June 10 [audio]
Fell describes farming for DuPont in detail, including the amount of workers, the number of barns and buildings, livestock raised, horses that pulled the wagons, sporting and hunting dogs, barn burnings, and farm equipment. He also describes the community along the Brandywine, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and the layout of Wilmington and the powder yard.
Interview with Emily Peoples Blackwell, 1970 July 6 [audio]
Blackwell details various childhood experiences, including playing and sledding in Squirrel Run, paddle boating in the Brandywine, attending Christ Church, and studying at Alexis I. du Pont School and Beacom's Business School. She also discusses interactions with members of the du Pont family, including Alfred I., Bessie G., Madeline, and Louise Crowninshield. Her interview provides details into daily life at Squirrel Run and of powder workers' families.
Interview with John A. Dougherty, 1956 October 19 [audio](part 1)
Dougherty describes his various jobs for the company, his supervisors, the move to the DuPont building in Wilmington, the houses and layout of the community at Hagley, and various neighbors.
Interview with John A. Dougherty, 1956 October 19 [audio](part 2)
Dougherty describes his various jobs for the company, his supervisors, the move to the DuPont building in Wilmington, the houses and layout of the community at Hagley, and various neighbors.
Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1964 April 3 [audio](part 1)
Cheney describes the family home in detail, taking the trolley into town, how the family used heat, gas, and drinking water, her interactions with members of the du Pont family, and various ways that the children would entertain themselves.
Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1964 April 3 [audio](part 2)
Cheney describes the family home in detail, taking the trolley into town, how the family used heat, gas, and drinking water, her interactions with members of the du Pont family, and various ways that the children would entertain themselves.
Interview with Harvey L. Fell, 1968 June 17 [audio]
Fell describes farming for DuPont in detail, including the amount of workers, the number of barns and buildings, livestock raised, horses that pulled the wagons, sporting and hunting dogs, barn burnings, and farm equipment. He also describes the community along the Brandywine, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and the layout of Wilmington and the powder yard.
Interview with Emily Peoples Blackwell, 1970 July 6 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Emily Blackwell who lived at Squirrel Run while her father worked in the powder mills for DuPont. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1964 April 3 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Catherine Cheney who lived in Free Park and whose grandfather and father were guards at Hagley mills. The interview took place in New Castle, Delaware.
Interview with John A. Dougherty, 1956 October 19 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with John Dougherty who worked as a DuPont powder employee. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Harvey L. Fell, 1968 June 10, 1968 June 17 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Harvey Fell who worked for DuPont, including work on the company farm. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Samuel Hackendorn, 1958 July 24 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Samuel Hackendorn who lived in Charles Banks, Squirrel Run, and Free Park while his father worked in the Hagley Yard grinding mill. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with William Henry Miller, 1984 February 16 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with William Miller in which he reads from an interview with Alfred I. du Pont about the Miller family. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.