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 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 Faith Betty Lattomus, 1984 April 19 [audio](part 1)
Lattomus describes the layout and communities of the various villages along the Brandywine, her house in Wagoner's Row, chores and daily routines, transportation, and entertainments and parties. She also describes her involvement at Christ Church and teaching Sunday school there.
Interview with Faith Betty Lattomus, 1984 April 4 [audio](part 2)
Lattomus describes the layout and communities of the various villages along the Brandywine, her house in Wagoner's Row, chores and daily routines, transportation, and entertainments and parties. She also describes her involvement at Christ Church and teaching Sunday school there.
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 James Cammock, 1984 April 9 [audio]
Cammock describes daily life on the Brandywine for families of mill workers; celebrations for the Fourth of July and Memorial Day; and general descriptions of the mills and his home at Breck's Lane.
Interview with James Cammock, 1984 July 24 [audio]
Cammock provides many details about how he tended to his garden at Breck's Lane, including the procurement of seeds, various equipment used, standard gardening clothes, different types of fruits and vegetables and flowers planted, fertilizing practices, and the harvest and storage of crops. He also discusses maintaining a chicken coop.
Interview with Ella Fitzharris, 1980 May 5 [audio](part 1)
Fitzharris discusses life in the Brandywine area including the types of clothing she wore, childhood activities, chores, other topics associated with daily home life, and social activities such as the Fourth of July picnic, weddings, and church gatherings.
Interview with Ella Fitzharris, 1980 May 5 [audio](part 2)
Fitzharris discusses life in the Brandywine area including the types of clothing she wore, childhood activities, chores, other topics associated with daily home life, and social activities such as the Fourth of July picnic, weddings, and church gatherings.
Interview with Ella Fitzharris, 1985 August 8 [audio](part 1)
Fitzharris recalls in more detail about some of the subjects she has discussed in prior interviews. Some topics include coal wagons, home sewing, homemade alcohol, style of dress during mourning periods, household furniture and appliances, toys and hobbies, and types of meals cooked in the home.
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 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 July 24 [audio]
Meriggi largely focuses on vegetable gardening and ornamental plantings at Hagley gardens. She discusses how her family gardened, including crop storage, choosing of plants, making jams and jellies, buying seeds, and typical tools used.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 July 25 [audio]
Yetter discusses ornamental and vegetable gardening near the near the DuPont Company Hagley Yards. Mrs. Yetter talks about the types of vegetables her family grew and how they did so, as well as what kind of flowers was grown on their property. Other areas and family gardens in which Mrs. Yetter was familiar is also discussed.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1985 February 19 [audio](part 1)
Yetter discusses social life and activities, excursions to the city of Wilmington, people she knew as a child and young adult, cooking traditions, church, holidays, games, the layout of homes, vegetable gardening, and more details on daily life in the home.
Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1985 February 19 [audio](part 2)
Yetter discusses social life and activities, excursions to the city of Wilmington, people she knew as a child and young adult, cooking traditions, church, holidays, games, the layout of homes, vegetable gardening, and more details on daily life in the home.
Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1984 March 28 [audio](part 1)
Sheldrick describes childbirth, funerals, children's games and pastimes, and going into Wilmington. She also describes typical clothing, the hot water pump in the village, dances and weddings, and various family possessions.
Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1984 March 28 [audio](part 2)
Sheldrick describes childbirth, funerals, children's games and pastimes, and going into Wilmington. She also describes typical clothing, the hot water pump in the village, dances and weddings, and various family possessions.
Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1989 January 1 [audio]
Sheldrick describes the laundry process in detail, including the kind of soap the family used and darning socks. She also discusses chores in her house, medical care, and making homemade root beer.
Interview with Les Mathewson, 1976 September 3 [audio](part 3)
Mathewson describes stone quarrying work in detail, including the process, tools, and his various job responsibilities. He also discusses his time working in the hydroelectric plant.
Interview with Les Mathewson, undated [audio](part 4)
Mathewson describes stone quarrying work in detail, including the process, tools, and his various job responsibilities. He also discusses his time working in the hydroelectric plant.
Interview with Jane "Jenny" Toomey, 1985 February 12 [audio](part 1)
Toomey describes her house in Charles Banks, various foods she cooked and baked, relations between Italian and Irish immigrants, and daily chores. Her son, Joe Toomey (b. 1925), also describes his childhood, including mushroom picking, caddying at the DuPont Country Club, raising chickens, and his family's history and immigration from Ireland.
Interview with Jane "Jenny" Toomey, 1985 February 12 [audio](part 2)
Toomey describes her house in Charles Banks, various foods she cooked and baked, relations between Italian and Irish immigrants, and daily chores. Her son, Joe Toomey (b. 1925), also describes his childhood, including mushroom picking, caddying at the DuPont Country Club, raising chickens, and his family's history and immigration from Ireland.
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 William Ball "Billy" Montgomery, 1988 April 29 [audio]
Montgomery discusses informal musical groups, summer pastimes along the Brandywine, typical smoking habits, and various possessions the family owned. He also describes what courtships were like, funerals and wakes, and relationships with his family.

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