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 Clement Hoopes, 1969 July 3 [audio]
Hoopes describes the villages, his memories of explosions, and impressions of various du Pont family members.
Interview with Aloysius Rowe, undated [audio]
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 Oliver Collins, 1973 July 19 [audio](part 2)
Collins describes different kinds of turbines, wheel diameters and their various usage, and other industrial machines essential to his business. He also describes his family history and the running of the millrace, as well as overcoming problems such as rot. He describes the environment and wildlife in the area and also discusses his other interest in cutting hair.
Interview with Clarence A. Fahs, 1966 April 22, 1966 May 2 [audio]
Fahs describes his childhood in Wilmington, including his education, milking cows for extra money, boarding for his jobs in other cities, He discusses various jobs he had before DuPont, including working at Wilmington Dental Works, Novelty Machine Works, Pullman Automobile Company, and American Chain Works. He also describes his career at DuPont, including the various machines on the grounds, the explosion in 1917, wages, salaries, and vacation.
Interview with Aloysius Rowe, 1968 August 12 [audio]
Rowe discusses growing up along the Brandywine and the daily life of his mother and his family, including their schooling, healthcare, and eating habits. He also describes the 1918 flu epidemic, wakes, political life in Wilmington, the development of radio and automobile technologies, and the effect of the Great Depression on Forty Acres in Wilmington. He also recounts his working experience, from his first job at Hodgson's Woolen Mill to his later experiences working for the Reading Railroad. His interview provides detailed insight into daily life during the early twentieth century.
Interview with Clarence A. Fahs, 1966 May 4 [audio]
Fahs describes his childhood in Wilmington, including his education, milking cows for extra money, boarding for his jobs in other cities, He discusses various jobs he had before DuPont, including working at Wilmington Dental Works, Novelty Machine Works, Pullman Automobile Company, and American Chain Works. He also describes his career at DuPont, including the various machines on the grounds, the explosion in 1917, wages, salaries, and vacation.
Interview with William F. Flanigan, 1960 May-July [audio](part 1)
Flanigan describes the houses in which he grew up, relationships among his neighbors, his education, a feeling of isolation in the community, and childrens' chores and pastimes. He also describes his first job at the Hodgson Woolen Mill, various ethnicities that worked at DuPont, different explosions that occurred, and daily life during his childhood and teenage years.
Interview with William F. Flanigan, 1960 May-July [audio](part 2)
Flanigan describes the houses in which he grew up, relationships among his neighbors, his education, a feeling of isolation in the community, and childrens' chores and pastimes. He also describes his first job at the Hodgson Woolen Mill, various ethnicities that worked at DuPont, different explosions that occurred, and daily life during his childhood and teenage years.
Interview with William F. Flanigan, 1960 May-July [audio](part 3)
Flanigan describes the houses in which he grew up, relationships among his neighbors, his education, a feeling of isolation in the community, and the childrens' chores and pastimes. He also describes his first job at the Hodgson Woolen Mill, various ethnicities that worked at DuPont, different explosions that occurred, and daily life during his childhood and teenage years.
Interview with William F. Flanigan, 1960 May-July [audio](part 4)
Flanigan describes the houses in which he grew up, relationships among his neighbors, his education, a feeling of isolation in the community, and the childrens' chores and pastimes. He also describes his first job at the Hodgson Woolen Mill, various ethnicities that worked at DuPont, different explosions that occurred, and daily life during his childhood and teenage years.
Interview with Benjamin F. Foster, 1964 February 24 [audio](part 1)
Foster describes his working career at DuPont, including the various plants in which he worked, the installation of electrical lighting, engineering work, salaries and wages, and transferring to South America. He also describes the establishment of the Hotel du Pont, the building of homes for various du Pont family members, and his impressions of du Pont family members.
Interview with Benjamin F. Foster, 1964 February 28 [audio](part 2)
Foster describes his working career at DuPont, including the various plants in which he worked, the installation of electrical lighting, engineering work, salaries and wages, and transferring to South America. He also describes the establishment of the Hotel du Pont, the building of homes for various du Pont family members, and his impressions of du Pont family members.
Interview with Harvey L. Fell, 1968 June 17 [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 Theodore "Ted" Pennock, 1968 August 23 [audio]
Pennock discusses learning his trade, his transfer to Hagley for better wages, his working environment at Hagley, and union activity among machine workers.
Interview with E.G. Ackart, 1961 September 14 [audio]
E.G. Ackart recounts his working career at DuPont in his interview. He discusses anecdotes from high school, differences in working for DuPont vs. other companies, the Barksdale plant, and the structure of the engineering department and its consolidation in 1916. He also describes the company during wartime, his various colleagues throughout his working career, the development of industrial engineering, and the relationship between DuPont and General Motors. He also discusses the development of nylon, rayon, and other important materials, including how DuPont's chemists and physicists utilized ideas they found working abroad to create them. He recounts building new plants and his interactions with members of the du Pont family.
Interview with Henri Lindsey, 1968 August 22 [audio]
Lindsey describes the consolidation of Repauno and DuPont in 1903, the business during World War I, the introduction of Fabrikoid, his representation of DuPont at the Coated Fabrics Association and the Rubber Association of America, his interactions with members of the du Pont family and other work colleagues, and business practices of the company.
Interview with E.K. Bolton, 1961 September 14 [audio]
Bolton describes his working career and research in the chemical department, studying organic chemistry in Germany at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, and the company during World War I. He also describes various colleagues during his career. He also discusses the state of the industry during his career at DuPont, both in the United States and abroad.
Interview with Luther D. Reed, 1968 June 6 [audio](part 4)
Reed describes the Hopewell plant in detail, his job responsibilities regarding labor and payroll, DuPont during World War I and the closure of the Hopewell plant, and the acquisitions of other companies. Reed focuses on his sales, managerial, and personnel work for DuPont. He also describes his experience at the Arlington plant and his eventual promotion to service superintendent at the Rayon Company and later move to Wilmington. He also touches on unionization in the industry.
Interview with W. J. Beadle, 1962 June 19 [audio]
Beadle describes his career with DuPont in the paint operations division, and later the development department and the treasury department. He also describes DuPont's relationship with General Motors, how DuPont acquired different companies and expanded in the 1920s and 1930s, and the motivations of the management, including the trajectory of development within the corporation. He describes the beginnings of DuPont International, his movement to the financial aspect of the business, his impressions of du Pont family members, and developing pension and trust plans.
Interview with A.D. Chandler, 1962 June 21 [audio]
A.D. Chandler describes his relationship with P.S. du Pont and Mrs. du Pont, both of whom he met in 1922. He describes his personality and interests, including history and book collecting. He also discusses his family life, political views, and social contributions. He also describes du Pont's involvement with the anti-prohibition movement. He also talks about how DuPont's management style changed throughout the years, and how it acquired various other companies. Chandler touches on Mr. du Pont's interest in sports and music. He also describes his interactions with other du Pont family members.
Interview with Jasper F. Crane, 1962 June 21 [audio](part 1)
Crane details the management style DuPont brought to the company. He also discusses impacts of various antitrust laws on DuPont. He also describes his experience working abroad, his work on the business advisory committee, and his advice for a happy life.
Interview with Jasper F. Crane, 1962 June 21 [audio](part 2)
Crane details the management style DuPont brought to the company. He also discusses impacts of various antitrust laws on DuPont. He also describes his experience working abroad, his work on the business advisory committee, and his advice for a happy life.
Interview with T.C. Davis, 1962 June 20 [audio]
Davis discusses the development of the DuPont Company, including the modernization of the company and the family members who contributed to it. He also describes the changes in the market, budgeting and financial issues, interactions with government, the hierarchy of the management, and other business practices.
Interview with Chandler Becker [audio]
Becker describes how he was hired as the assistant superintendent of Eleutherian Mills and how Louise du Pont Crowninshield took an interest in him and asked him to be the groundskeeper. He describes the unkempt state of the grounds when he arrived in 1928 and his plans to improve them, as well as how his job has changed over time. He also discusses his impressions of Mrs. Crowninshield, his home along the Brandywine, improvements made to the house throughout the years, and preparations for going to Boca Grande.
Interview with Martin Luther Valentine, 1974 January [audio]
Valentine describes DuPont's role in manufacturing smokeless powder and ballistics in both World War I and World War II, the layout of the plants in which he worked, the morale of employees during wartime, and testing ballistic missiles.

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