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 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.
Interview with Mary Hazzard Collins, 1974 March [audio]
Collins describes her first job as keeping track of the time slips and her second job working operating the elevators at 10th and Market. Her interview details the explosion of 1918; various interactions with du Pont family members, including Irenee, Lammot, T. Coleman, and Miss Sybil Ward; and a car accident that cost her her sight in one eye. The interview also features Mr. Collins, her husband.
Interview with Catherine C. Irving (Mrs. A. Duer Irving), 1974 February 21 [audio](part 1)
Irving describes in detail her relationship with her husband's cousin, Mrs. Louise du Pont Crowninshield, including her interests and personality. She briefly describes relationships with other members of the du Pont family.
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 Edwin G. Smyth, 1974 January 29 [audio]
Smyth describes his father's career and relationship with the du Pont family, Smyth's own career and various moves within the company, and his work in construction engineering. He also reminisces about the 100th anniversary celebration in 1902.
Interview Catherine C. Irving (Mrs. A. Duer Irving), 1974 February 21 [audio](part 2)
Irving describes in detail her relationship with her husband's cousin, Mrs. Louise du Pont Crowninshield, including her interests and personality. She briefly describes relationships with other members of the du Pont family.
Interview with Bruce Green, 1974 March 28 [audio]
Green details his various jobs for DuPont, including tearing down old buildings in the 1930s and 1940s, hauling sand and stone to the family estates, working as a receiving clerk at Hagley Yard, and helping his father find horses with which to furnish the powder company. He also describes his impressions of various members of the du Pont family, particularly T. Coleman du Pont and his wife and children. He also describes T. Coleman's plans for DuPont Highway
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 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.

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