From Explosives to the Digital Age : The DuPont Magazine

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 13:48

By Molly Olney-Zide

The Hagley Museum and Library is delighted to finally offer the full run of the DuPont Magazine  in a free, fully-searchable, online collection, which can be accessed by patrons around the world through the Hagley Digital Archives. The DuPont Magazine, which was published between 1913 and 2003, documented and publicized the progress of the DuPont Company for nearly a century. Historically known for gunpowder and other explosives, the DuPont Company gradually transformed into the chemical-based concern of the present day.

When the DuPont Magazine made its debut in July 1913, plastics had not yet become a main focal-point of the renowned explosives company. Instead, the early issues were filled with blasting powder advertisements and articles that focused on trapshooting and the benefits of using dynamite for all of one's road-building, flood prevention, and farming needs. It was an era of thinking that if a task needed to be done, dynamite would do the job faster, better, and, oddly, safer.

Despite the Magazine’s continued abundance of explosives-related articles and advertisements, change gradually began to creep in on the popular topic. The issues of the 1910s and the 1920s began highlighting new materials such as Fabrikoid, Pyralin, and Tontine. Fabrikoid, a synthetic leather, began making its appearance in the magazine as a popular new material for automobile seats and tops. Although Pyralin was most commonly used as an ivory substitute for a variety of popular household items including toys and toiletry items, it was also used for items such as The Swimming Collar in 1922 (v.16, no.3, p.11), an invention that did not so easily stand the test of time. Another synthetic fiber, Tontine helped bring easily-washable curtains, tablecloths, and wallpaper to the busy housewife.

The magazine issues continued through the years, and nylon, cellophane, and other popular synthetic materials continued widening the gap between the DuPont Company and explosives. As World War II came to a close, explosives had noticeably taken a back seat to a generation who craved new materials that promised a better, easier way of life. War-weary citizens were enamored by the luxury items they were finally able to purchase after years of sacrificing for the war effort.

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The second half of the 20th century saw even more discovery and change within the DuPont Company, and the DuPont Magazine was there documenting every exciting (and sometimes horrifying) breakthrough. Previously only available by request to use in the Hagley Library reading room, the DuPont Magazine is finally accessible to researchers or anyone interested in learning more about the DuPont Company from any computer. Please follow the link to the DuPont Company Magazine website in the Hagley Digital Archives to expand your own knowledge of this fascinating company.

For those who would like additional information or help navigating this new digital collection, you can contact the Hagley Library Reference desk at 302-658-2400 x227 or send an email request through Ask Hagley. Although the DuPont Magazine is now available online, a physical copy is still available by request for use in the Hagley Library reading room for those who still prefer to hold history in their own hands.

For more information about the Hagley Library, please visit www.hagley.org/library/.