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 Joseph M. Campbell, 1957 August 15 [audio](part 1)
Campbell describes the working conditions at Hagley and at the Experimental Station, attempts to unionize, his interactions with the du Pont family, and moving into the neighborhood at Squirrel Run, including the various nationalities that lived there and what the workers would do for fun.
Interview with Joseph M. Campbell, 1957 August 15 [audio](part 2)
Campbell describes the working conditions at Hagley and at the Experimental Station, attempts to unionize, his interactions with the du Pont family, and moving into the neighborhood at Squirrel Run, including the various nationalities that lived there and what the workers would do for fun.
Interview with William T. Cloud, 1958 March 31 [audio](part 1)
Cloud describes T. Coleman du Pont's road project in Sussex County, including interactions with the farmers; the political climate of the early 1900s in Delaware; the function of the byproducts section; and the dynamics, exports, and events at the Wayne Black Powder Mills and the Brandywine Plant.
Interview with William T. Cloud, 1958 March 31 [audio](part 2)
Cloud describes T. Coleman du Pont's road project in Sussex County, including interactions with the farmers; the political climate of the early 1900s in Delaware; the function of the byproducts section; and the dynamics, exports, and events at the Wayne Black Powder Mills and the Brandywine Plant.
Interview with William T. Cloud, 1958 April 7 [audio](part 3)
Cloud describes T. Coleman du Pont's road project in Sussex County, including interactions with the farmers; the political climate of the early 1900s in Delaware; the function of the byproducts section; and the dynamics, exports, and events at the Wayne Black Powder Mills and the Brandywine Plant.
Interview with Katherine Collison, 1954 September, 1955 January [audio]
Collison describes the house itself and the hardworking maids who lived there; how the children played and entertained themselves at the powder yards; various explosions and the reactions of the families; the cultural and social makeup of the community; and Collison's relationship with members of the du Pont family, including her friendship with Sophie du Pont.
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 F.L. (Les) Mathewson, 1968 July 3 [audio](part 1)
Mathewson describes the addition of electricity to the powder yard, his impressions of A.I. du Pont, and his neighbors. He also discusses his childhood, his father's work responsibilities, and his own job at the Hopewell plant in blasting. He describes the intricacies of blasting work and his experiences with the trap-shooting club.
Interview with F.L. (Les) Mathewson, 1968 July 3 [audio](part 2)
Mathewson describes the addition of electricity to the powder yard, his impressions of A.I. du Pont, and his neighbors. He also discusses his childhood, his father's work responsibilities, and his own job at the Hopewell plant in blasting. He describes the intricacies of blasting work and his experiences with the trap-shooting club.
Interview with John Peoples, 1957 June 13 [audio](part 1)
Peoples describes his job and working conditions in detail, his impressions of Frank du Pont, flooding along the Brandywine, explosions, life at Squirrel Run, and anecdotes about his neighbors.
Interview with John Peoples, 1957 June 13 [audio](part 2)
Peoples describes his job and working conditions in detail, his impressions of Frank du Pont, flooding along the Brandywine, explosions, life at Squirrel Run, and anecdotes about his neighbors.
Interview with William Stewart Allmond, 1969 July 3 [audio] (part 2)
Allmond's interviews detail the work environment at the Wilmington plant site in the early 1900s until the 1940s; various markets for car wheels; the expansion of the company and acquisition of Morton Poole Company and Nazel Engineering Works; and the effects of the Great Depression on Lobdell, which led to the company's purchase by Walter Lippincott and the United Engineering and Foundry Company in the late 1940s.
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 John E. Krauss, 1958 May 14 [audio](part 1)
Krauss describes his father's working career, including an incident in which Mr. Krauss asked Mr. Francis G. du Pont not to smoke a cigar near the powder mill. His interview describes his childhood at Squirrel Run, including his education at A.I. du Pont School, his summer jobs in the mill at Hagley, his impressions of du Pont family members, and his later working career at DuPont.
Interview with John E. Krauss, 1958 May 14 [audio](part 2)
Krauss describes his father's working career, including an incident in which Mr. Krauss asked Mr. Francis G. du Pont not to smoke a cigar near the powder mill. His interview describes his childhood at Squirrel Run, including his education at A.I. du Pont School, his summer jobs in the mill at Hagley, his impressions of du Pont family members, and his later working career at DuPont.
Interview with John E. Krauss, 1958 May 28 [audio](part 3)
Krauss describes his father's working career, including an incident in which Mr. Krauss asked Mr. Francis G. du Pont not to smoke a cigar near the powder mill. His interview describes his childhood at Squirrel Run, including his education at A.I. du Pont School, his summer jobs in the mill at Hagley, his impressions of du Pont family members, and his later working career at DuPont.
Interview with Joseph H. Martin, 1956 November 8-9 [audio](part 1)
Martin describes in detail various members of the du Pont family and anecdotes about them, including Francis I. du Pont, Alfred I. du Pont, Colonel A. Henry du Pont, and T. Coleman du Pont. He also discusses the explosion of 1890.
Interview with Joseph H. Martin, 1956 November 8-9 [audio](part 2)
Martin describes in detail various members of the du Pont family and anecdotes about them, including Francis I. du Pont, Alfred I. du Pont, Colonel A. Henry du Pont, and T. Coleman du Pont. He also discusses the explosion of 1890.
Interview with Frank T. Stirlith, 1960 January 12, 1960 January 14 [audio](part 1)
Stirlith describes his family history and immigration to the United States, his childhood growing up in Chester, life in Wilmington during his adult years, his career at DuPont, and his impressions of and interactions with various members of the du Pont family. He also recounts, in detail, William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold speech, which he heard in Wilmington in 1896.
Interview with Frederick K. Reybold, 1968 August 8 [audio]
Reybold describes treating politics in journalism, interviewing Grover Cleveland, the newspaper business in Wilmington, and his impressions of T. Coleman du Pont and Alfred I. du Pont, and his resignation after being told not to report A.I. du Pont's divorce case. He the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
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 Frank T. Stirlith1960 January 12, 1960 January 14 [audio](part 2)
Stirlith describes his family history and immigration to the United States, his childhood growing up in Chester, life in Wilmington during his adult years, his career at DuPont, and his impressions of and interactions with various members of the du Pont family. He also recounts, in detail, William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold speech, which he heard in Wilmington in 1896.
Interview with Frank T. Stirlith, 1960 January 12, 1960 January 14 [audio](part 3)
Stirlith describes his family history and immigration to the United States, his childhood growing up in Chester, life in Wilmington during his adult years, his career at DuPont, and his impressions of and interactions with various members of the du Pont family. He also recounts, in detail, William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold speech, which he heard in Wilmington in 1896.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 1)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.
Interview with Thomas E. Doremus, 1958 January 10 [audio](part 2)
Doremus describes in detail his father and grandfather's powder mill business, his meeting with Mr. T. Coleman du Pont and the Remingtom Arms Company in New York City, his role in the development of the DuPont trademarked oval, the role of the company in World War I, the relationship of Annie Oakley to DuPont, his job in China, his impressions of various du Pont family members, and his world travels.

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