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 Agnes Quinn [audio]
Quinn describes prohibition in Wilmington, shopping and making textiles, her relationship with her grandmother, the layout of the neighborhood, social activities at Breck's Mill, floods along the Brandywine, and running her tavern. She also describes Christmas traditions along the Brandywine, including attending church at dawn at St. Joseph's on the Brandywine, the decoration of the tree, sledding, and gifts received.
Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 6 [audio](part 1)
Kindbeiter describes community life at Hagley, including church life at St. Joseph's, the house layout, the Gun Club, children's pastimes and entertainments, daily chores, and Christmas and holiday traditions.
Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 6 [audio](part 2)
Kindbeiter describes community life at Hagley, including church life at St. Joseph's, the house layout, the Gun Club, children's pastimes and entertainments, daily chores, and Christmas and holiday traditions.
Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 13 [audio]
Kindbeiter describes Christmas traditions, the introduction of electricity, various pranks the children would play, saloons and businesses in the community, and various anecdotes about community members and du Pont family members. He also talks about his working career at the Experimental Station, including his mentor Leon Lloyd.
Interview with Joseph and Mary Todd Kauss, 1981 February 17 [audio](part 1)
The Kausses discuss general daily life growing up along the Brandywine, including schooling, childhood pastimes, transportation, daily chores, vacationing in Atlantic City, holiday and wedding traditions, typical food and dress, and various possessions in the homes. Mr. Kauss also discusses his working career for DuPont.
Interview with Joseph and Mary Todd Kauss, 1981 February 17 [audio](part 2)
The Kausses discuss general daily life growing up along the Brandywine, including schooling, childhood pastimes, transportation, daily chores, vacationing in Atlantic City, holiday and wedding traditions, typical food and dress, and various possessions in the homes. Mr. Kauss also discusses his working career for DuPont.
Interview with Martina Lawless, 1984 February 21 [audio](part 1)
Lawless discusses daily life and chores, the hotel in which the family lived, an explosion in the Packing House, the Catholic community at St. Joseph's, medical care, her education at Ursuline and Villamarie in West Chester, and weddings and baptisms.
Interview with Martina Lawless, 1984 February 21 [audio](part 2)
Lawless discusses daily life and chores, the hotel in which the family lived, an explosion in the Packing House, the Catholic community at St. Joseph's, medical care, her education at Ursuline and Villamarie in West Chester, and weddings and baptisms.
Interview with Dr. Margaret Seitz, 1984 June 11 [audio]
Seitz describes her family's history working in the powder mills, her sisters' relationships with members of the du Pont family, her family's home, Christmas celebrations, and her father's childhood.
Interview with Jennie Sicco Leto, 1983 March 5 [audio]
Leto describes her childhood along the Brandywine, including her education and daily chores. She also describes cooking and Christmas traditions.
Interview with Jennie Sicco Leto, 1984 June 21 [audio]
Leto describes life along the Brandywine, including christenings, her grandmother's home and garden, her education, and entertainments and amusements. She also describes her family's history and emigration from Italy, Christmas traditions, and impression of various du Pont family members.
Interview with Jennie Sicco Leto, 1983 May 25 [audio](part 1)
Leto describes the layout of the various villages along the Brandywine, anecdotes about the neighbors, and daily life during her childhood.
Interview with Jennie Sicco Leto, 1983 May 25 [audio](part 2)
Leto describes the layout of the various villages along the Brandywine, anecdotes about the neighbors, and daily life during her childhood.
Interview with William Lloyd and Anna Baird Lloyd, 1988 June 8 [audio](part 1)
Willliam Lloyd and Anna Baird Lloyd describe their childhoods growing up along the Brandywine, including fishing in the creek and skating in the winter, their families and anecdotes relating to them, childhood pastimes and amusements, memories of explosions, cooking and chores, and working conditions in the powder yards. They also describe local businesses, prices for everyday items, and holiday traditions.
Interview with William Lloyd and Anna Baird Lloyd, 1988 June 8 [audio](part 2)
Willliam Lloyd and Anna Baird Lloyd describe their childhoods growing up along the Brandywine, including fishing in the creek and skating in the winter, their families and anecdotes relating to them, childhood pastimes and amusements, memories of explosions, cooking and chores, and working conditions in the powder yards. They also describe local businesses, prices for everyday items, and holiday traditions.
Interview with Evelyn Lyons, 1984 August 28 [audio]
Lyons describes his home in Chicken Alley, childhood amusements and games, various pieces of furniture and possessions, his education, and day to day life along the Brandywine.
Interview with C. Natalie Rogerro Meriggi, 1984 June 10 [audio]
Meriggi describes her family history and her parent's immigrant to America. She also describes daily life along the Brandywine, including chores, cooking and laundry, making wine, and gardening. She also discusses sewing and typical dress, as well as Sunday traditions.
Interview with C. Natalie Rogerro Meriggi, 1984 June 20 [audio]
Meriggi discusses winter pastimes, lacemaking, Christmas traditions, and winemaking. She also discusses cooking, gardening, and herb lore, medical care, the Italian community at Hagley, and her parents' feelings as immigrants. She touches on celebrations, such as holidays and weddings.
Interview with C. Natalie Rogerro Meriggi, 1984 November 8 [audio]
Meriggi describes the differences between the Gibbons house during the interview and when she lived in it. She also describes various family possessions and how they were used or placed in the house, as well as daily chores.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 April 3 [audio](part 1)
Yetter discusses about homes and families in Squirrel Run. The interview is primarily concerned with daily life including cooking, cleaning, habits, and maintenance work. Types of social activities and customs are also discussed, as well as Mrs. Yetter's memories of explosions, and her life after leaving Squirrel Run.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 April 3 [audio](part 2)
Yetter discusses about homes and families in Squirrel Run. The interview is primarily concerned with daily life including cooking, cleaning, habits, and maintenance work. Types of social activities and customs are also discussed, as well as Mrs. Yetter's memories of explosions, and her life after leaving Squirrel Run.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 May 30 [audio](part 1)
Yetter discusses certain subjects at length including the "sand hole", an area close to the du Pont family cemetery, sewing, marriage traditions, gardening, types of clothing and their care, funerals, illnesses, and schooling. Home life and duties such as cleaning and cooking that was recalled in the first interview continues to be discussed.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 May 30 [audio](part 2)
Yetter discusses certain subjects at length including the "sand hole", an area close to the du Pont family cemetery, sewing, marriage traditions, gardening, types of clothing and their care, funerals, illnesses, and schooling. Home life and duties such as cleaning and cooking that was recalled in the first interview continues to be discussed.
Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1984 February 28 [audio]
Sheldrick describes her childhood home in detail, chores and hobbies, and various daily activities, such as gardening, handling garbage, and obtaining groceries. She also describes her education, Sundays at Church, holidays and celebrations, explosions, and illnesses.
Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1984 March 6 [audio]
Sheldrick describes the layout of the various villages along the Brandywine, including which families lived where. She also recounts various anecdotes about her neighbors and her childhood. Sheldrick describes whitewashing houses, the local barbershop, medical care, and feminine products in the early twentieth century.

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