On this date, February 16, in 1937, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. was granted U.S. patent No. 2,071,250 for "monocomponent artificial filaments or the like of synthetic polymers". The synthetic fiber was invented by Dr. Wallace Carothers, a research chemist working for the company.
The patent covered the formula and creation process for polymers capable of being drawn into strong pliable fibres; DuPont branded the new synthetic fiber "Nylon". One of the first consumer uses for the new product was replacing toothbrush bristles, formerly made of hog hair, with new Nylon bristles. DuPont began manufacturing toothbrush bristle fibers on February 24, 1938 out of a plant located in Arlington, New Jersey.
New applications for the product soon followed. Commercial production of nylon yarn for hosiery began in a Seaford, Delaware plant on December 15, 1939. Nylon continued to be a major product for the company. This photograph, taken in October 1969, advertised fashions made with the company's Qiana Nylon fabric blend.
This photograph is part of Hagley Library's collection of DuPont Textile Fibers Product Information photographs (Accession 1984.259). The Textile Fibers Department of the DuPont Company, established in 1936 as the Rayon Department, specialized in researching and developing synthetic fibers for fabrics such as Rayon, Nylon, Teflon, Corian, and Kevlar.
This collection consists of the Fabric master files and Textile reference files maintained by the Product Information Department, a division of DuPont organized in 1952 within the Public Relations Department. Its main purpose was to create news releases accompanied by photographs that would be run editorially by trade journals and newspapers to create inexpensive publicity and indirect advertising.
To be used, the news releases had to include genuinely interesting information about a DuPont product, its development, manufacture, or applications. Direct commercial promotions of products, however, remained the work of the Advertising Department.
Public Relations staff members in Product Information were assigned to specific operating departments, and they reported jointly to the heads of PR and the specific department. Product Information for Textile Fibers was handled out of that department's office in New York City's Empire State Building. This section also issued photographs and press releases for editorial use. These were designed to establish and strengthen in the reader's mind the connection between DuPont, as a maker of fibers, and the garment and fashion industry.
This collection has been partially digitized; you can view a selection of images from it in our Digital Archive by clicking here.