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 Catherine Cheney, 1984 February 15 [audio]
Cheney details gardening at Hagley, including using fertilizer and lime on plants, food storage during winter, gardening tools, and using the moon to determine planting cycles. She also discusses laundry, cooking, and various other household chores.
Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1984 March 26 [audio]
Cheney provides details of her life at Free Park, including fear of typhoid in the water supply, delivery of groceries and other items, her sibling dynamic, She details gardening at Hagley, including drying and storing herbs, what kinds of plants were chosen for the garden, different gardening tools, and composting.
Interview with Helen Edwards, 1984 March 8 [audio]
Edwards describes her working career in the powder yards in 1917 and 1918 in detail, including various work tasks, sewing silk bags, the hiring process, various explosions, and how married and unmarried Bloomer Girls worked alongside each other during World War I.
Interview with Helen Edwards, 1986 April 16 [audio]
Edwards describes her working career at DuPont, including an explosion that occurred in 1918 and the flu epidemic in 1919. She also describes her home life, including the family cat, typical dress, the early years of her marriage, Wilmington in the early twentieth century, and cooking and chores.
Interview with Bertha Gregg, 1989 March 17 [audio]
Gregg describes her duties at Hagley. Her interview describes her courtship and early years of marriage with her husband, Pete, a grocer; a flu epidemic that she suffered during a pregnancy; her family history; daily life in Wilmington; and holiday and special traditions.
Interview with Bertha Gregg, 1989 March 23 [audio]
Gregg describes her duties at Hagley. Her interview describes her courtship and early years of marriage with her husband, Pete, a grocer; a flu epidemic that she suffered during a pregnancy; her family history; daily life in Wilmington; and holiday and special traditions.
Interview with Mary Braden Jackson, 1989 January 19 [audio]
Jackson's fifth and final interview details the laundry process, how her mother made clothes, and her relationship with her stepmother.

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