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 J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 January 31 [audio](part 1)
Rhoads describes the emigration of his family from England to America to begin a tannery in 1702. He describes his family's business, including the movement from tanning to leather, as well as other ventures, and the expansion of the business to include other family members. He details the process of making leather and the relationship of the company with other area companies, including DuPont. He also describes his childhood in Wilmington and other towns where his family moved, his Quaker faith and missionary work, and family affairs. Rhoads also discusses his education and his entrance into the family business, as well as the state of the company during World War I.
Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 January 31 [audio](part 2)
Rhoads describes the emigration of his family from England to America to begin a tannery in 1702. He describes his family's business, including the movement from tanning to leather, as well as other ventures, and the expansion of the business to include other family members. He details the process of making leather and the relationship of the company with other area companies, including DuPont. He also describes his childhood in Wilmington and other towns where his family moved, his Quaker faith and missionary work, and family affairs. Rhoads also discusses his education and his entrance into the family business, as well as the state of the company during World War I.
Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 February 11 [audio](part 3)
Rhoads discusses his role in the family business, including price-setting strategies, becoming a partner in 1915, and hiring salesmen and various sales techniques. He also discusses various management practices and organizational skills that he utilized during his time at the business. He touches on United States and international competitors, and he discusses in detail the union movement in the 1930s and the company's relationship with union members. Rhoads also discusses the entrance of nylon into the belt-making business, government revisions on the leather building industry, and the succession of power within the company.
Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 February 11 [audio](part 4)
Rhoads discusses his role in the family business, including price-setting strategies, becoming a partner in 1915, and hiring salesmen and various sales techniques. He also discusses various management practices and organizational skills that he utilized during his time at the business. He touches on United States and international competitors, and he discusses in detail the union movement in the 1930s and the company's relationship with union members. Rhoads also discusses the entrance of nylon into the belt-making business, government revisions on the leather building industry, and the succession of power within the company.
Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 April 14 [audio](part 5)
Rhoads describes the effects of the Great Depression on the company, improvements made to leather products, and employing African Americans. He also discusses changes in the company's buildings throughout the years. Rhoads recounts his civic endeavors, including working with the Boy Scouts, with the YMCA, and with various engineering and nature groups. He also describes how he sought to use the manpower of conscientious objectors, such as Quakers, to serve the country in other ways during wartime. He describes his impressions of World War I and World War II in detail, including his relief efforts in Germany. He also discusses his own education.
Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 April 14 [audio](part 6)
Rhoads describes the effects of the Great Depression on the company, improvements made to leather products, and employing African Americans. He also discusses changes in the company's buildings throughout the years. Rhoads recounts his civic endeavors, including working with the Boy Scouts, with the YMCA, and with various engineering and nature groups. He also describes how he sought to use the manpower of conscientious objectors, such as Quakers, to serve the country in other ways during wartime. He describes his impressions of World War I and World War II in detail, including his relief efforts in Germany. He also discusses his own education.
Interview with Katherine Kindbeiter Hazzard, 1984 March 21 [audio](part 1)
Hazzard describes her childhood, including the house in which she grew up, daily chores, activities and amusements, and her impressions of various du Pont family members. She also discusses her education, various anecdotes about her father and mother, and the candy store her father opened after her lost his legs working for the railroad. She also recounts going into Wilmington for shopping and Christmas traditions.
Interview with Katherine Kindbeiter Hazzard, 1984 March 21 [audio](part 2)
Hazzard describes her childhood, including the house in which she grew up, daily chores, activities and amusements, and her impressions of various du Pont family members. She also discusses her education, various anecdotes about her father and mother, and the candy store her father opened after her lost his legs working for the railroad. She also recounts going into Wilmington for shopping and Christmas traditions.
Interview with Katherine Kindbeiter Hazzard, 1985 May 11 [audio](part 1)
Hazzard describes her education, how her parents met, laundry and chores, and various games and amusements in which the children engaged. She also describes cooking, family pets, the family's first car, and her neighbors.
Interview with Harry Barry, 1974 May 1 [audio]
The relationship between the Barrys and the Crowninshields began around 1871. Barry describes his first meeting with Mrs. Crowninshield after her honeymoon in 1900. They relocated to Wilmington in 1910, where he was present for the restoration of Eleutherian Mills. His interview details his impressions of Louise du Pont Crowninshield, including her discouragement during the redecoration process and philanthropic activities in Boca Grande, as well as her general disposition and enjoyment of flowers and antiquing. There is also a short three minute interview with a former gardener of Mrs. Crowninshield who is unidentified.
Interview with William H. Buchanan, 1974 July 25 [audio]
Buchanan describes his father's career, the layout of the powder yards, functions of various equipment, and the working environment at Hagley.
Interview with Dennis Buckley, 1975 January 10 [audio]
Buckley's interview details his impressions of the du Pont family members, his job in the mailroom of the company, working for the Diamond Ice and Coal Company, and running a liquor store.
Interview with Katherine Kindbeiter Hazzard, 1985 May 11 [audio](part 2)
Hazzard describes her education, how her parents met, laundry and chores, and various games and amusements in which the children engaged. She also describes cooking, family pets, the family's first car, and her neighbors.
Interview with Margaret Headley, 1984 February 22 [audio](part 1)
Headley describes the trolley into Wilmington, her uncle's home in Henry Clay, the layout of Wagoner's Row, peeling willows, and her family life growing up in Wilmington.
Interview with Margaret Headley, 1984 February 22 [audio](part 2)
Headley describes the trolley into Wilmington, her uncle's home in Henry Clay, the layout of Wagoner's Row, peeling willows, and her family life growing up in Wilmington.
Interview with Harold W. Hocker, 1975 June 24-25 [audio]
Hocker describes the creation of the H.W. Hocker Manufacturing Company, including how the company handled the Great Depression, the development of brush manufacturing and the trajectory of the company, and other products that they produced, including bottle caps and aluminum cans. He also touches on the equipment used, ordering materials for the process, and learning how to make brushes. He discusses the fear of spreading anthrax in the import of bristles, waste in the brush process, and attempting to use synthetic materials. He also describes the machines used as well as other tools of the trade. Hocker talks about publishing trade catalogs and the standardization of brush-making. Finally, he describes the conception of the idea and the typical brush market.
Interview with Eugene Bruno, 1981 March 12 [audio](part 1)
Bruno's interview details his childhood in Wilmington, Delaware. He describes the homes in Squirrel Run, how the children used to spend the weekends there after the move having picnics and watching the adults play bocce ball, and his job working at Hodginson Brothers Woolen Mills. He also describes Wilmington in the early twentieth century, particularly the area of Little Italy, where he grew up.
Interview with Eugene Bruno, 1981 March 12 [audio](part 2)
Bruno's interview details his childhood in Wilmington, Delaware. He describes the homes in Squirrel Run, how the children used to spend the weekends there after the move having picnics and watching the adults play bocce ball, and his job working at Hodginson Brothers Woolen Mills. He also describes Wilmington in the early twentieth century, particularly the area of Little Italy, where he grew up.
Interview with Eugene Bruno, 1984 June 11 [audio](part 1)
Bruno's second interview goes into greater detail about his early childhood at Hagley. He describes details such as his father's winemaking hobby, his mother's housework and food storage, and traditions and customs observed by workers' families at Squirrel Run.
Interview with Eugene Bruno, 1984 June 11 [audio](part 2)
Bruno's second interview goes into greater detail about his early childhood at Hagley. He describes details such as his father's winemaking hobby, his mother's housework and food storage, and traditions and customs observed by workers' families at Squirrel Run.
Interview with Eleanor Kane, 1984 February 21 [audio]
Kane describes her family history and her grandparents' home in detail, including the interior, backyard and garden, and their neighbors, the Seitz family. She describes her mother's childhood as well as her own childhood visiting her grandparents, including transportation, wedding traditions, and her grandfather's illness during his working career.
Interview with Ethel Jones Hayward, 1983 August 23 [audio]
Hayward describes the chores her family members performed, her education, typical pastimes and amusements, the layout of the villages, some explosions, and Christmas traditions.
Interview with Ethel Jones Hayward, 1987 April 4 [audio]
Hayward describes Christmas traditions along the Brandywine, including decorations, foods prepared, and gifts received. She also describes family life during her early childhood, including daily life, clothing, and her doll collection.
Interview with Ethel Jones Hayward, 1989 January 18 [audio]
Hayward discusses laundry day growing up, medical care, trips into the city, and her impressions of the du Pont family.
Interview with George Macklem, 1984 April 13 [audio]
Maclem describes visiting his grandmother in Henry Clay Village, his family history, local businesses around Hagley, and the city of Wilmington during the early twentieth century.

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