Voices from the DuPont Powder Yards: A Collection of Oral History Interviews

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hagley is excited to announce the opening of a historically significant collection of interviews on the DuPont Company Powder Yard.

The interviews were conducted by museum staff in two series, the first between 1954 and 1974 and the second between 1980 and 1984. The first series includes the last surviving generation of DuPont Company powder mill workers and acquaintances of Louise du Pont Crowninshield, who was last owner of the Eleutherian Mills residence, and Luther D. Reed, the first general museum director. The second series consists primarily of descendants of the last generation of powder workers.

Interviews are largely devoted to the nature of everyday life in Wilmington, Delaware. This includes work at DuPont, both on and off the Powder Yard, and with other area employers; domestic and social life; and workers' communities surrounding the DuPont Company Powder Yard. Some interviewees discuss various members of the du Pont family and company management. Luther D. Reed gives his version of the events surrounding the formation of the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation and the original construction of the Hagley Museum.

Processing the collection was a multi-step process largely conducted by former employee Karla Irwin, who arranged, described, and digitized 197 audiocassettes, 116 audio reels, and 179 transcripts in 2013. Former employee Mairead Browne wrote abstracts for most of the interviews. The transcripts are now available in the Hagley Digital Archives, and the finding aid is also posted online in our database.

Abby Adams is the Digital Archivist in the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department.