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 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 Michael Munroe, 1969 July 9 [audio]
Munroe describes his typical workdays, including how he got to work, how he set up the rolls, the kind of iron used, the death of Joseph Stewart in a work accident, and life in Wilmington. He also talks about the closure of Lobdell.
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 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 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.

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