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 Ralph Beech Brown, 1981 April 28 [audio]
Brown's interview details his childhood in Newark, Cecil County, and Wilmington, his experiences as a carnival worker, the working environment and explosions at the powder mill, and his experience as an electrician at the Playhouse Theatre.
Interview with Anthony W. Grieco, 1988 October 7 [audio]
Grieco describes his daily job responsibilities in the box shop and his soldering work, explosions that occurred at the packing house during his working career, race riots in Chester, and his life in a boarding house. He also describes daily life in Wilmington, including weekend entertainment.
Interview with Edgar Dill Peoples, 1988 April 2 [audio](part 1)
Peoples describes his childhood along the Brandywine, including his family history and how his parents met, daily chores, cooking and gardening, games that the children would play, and typical dress. He also describes the social aspect of life at the yards, including the Swamp Lily Club and the Hagley Community House as well as Christ Church.
Interview with Edgar Dill Peoples, 1988 April 2 [audio](part 2)
Peoples describes his childhood along the Brandywine, including his family history and how his parents met, daily chores, cooking and gardening, games that the children would play, and typical dress. He also describes the social aspect of life at the yards, including the Swamp Lily Club and the Hagley Community House as well as Christ Church.
Interview with Arthur Sykes, 1984 March 8 [audio]
Sykes recounts his working career at DuPont, including explosions. He also describes his childhood along the Brandywine, including swimming in the creek, golfing, going to the movies, daily chores, shopping, He reminisces about the Prohibition period as well as members of the du Pont family.
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 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 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 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 Edward L. Bader, 1956 November 23 [transcript]
Transcript of interview conducted with Edward L. Bader about his time working in the mills for DuPont. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Philip Dougherty [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Philip Dougherty who worked in the Henry Clay Keg Factory. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Harry E. Lee, 1955 February 2 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Harry Lee who worked at the Experimental Station and lived for a time in the Upper Banks area. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with William Frederick Lynch, 1956 October 5 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with William Frederick Lych who was employed in the powder yards and has many memories about life in the area. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Richard F. Rowe, 1968 July 9 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Richard Rowe who grew up on the Brandywine and worked at Hodgson's Woolen Mill before moving on to work in carpentry. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Daniel F. Shields, 1958 March 19 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Daniel Shields who grew up on the Brandywine while his father worked in the charcoal building, and later on went onto work for DuPont as well, including on the company farm.
Interview with Ralph Beech Brown, 1981 April 28 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Ralph Brown who worked in the Hagley Yards. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.
Interview with Helen Edwards, 1984 March 8 [transcript]
Transcript of interview with Helen Edwards who worked in the powder mills during World War I. The interview took place in Wilmington, Delaware.

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