Workers in 1850

Powder yard workersWORKERS
Employees who worked all of 1850: 139
Workers hired: 43
Departed workers: 25
Temporary / non-yard workers: 86
Total employed by DuPont in 1850: 292

Average pay: $18.35

Total paid to employees: $46,067
Non-yard workers: $1,055

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How did workers spend their money in 1850?

Employee spending chart. 50% savings, 36.5% cash, 9% board, the rest other expenses.


Promotion in the Powder Yards

"Powdermen" were employees who participated in the manufacture of gunpowder. Their jobs included operating the gunpowder production machinery, moving the unfinished powder from one building or machine to another, and packing gunpowder for shipment.

Being a powderman was one of the most prestigious positions in the powder yards, both in terms of pay and status among fellow employees. Working directly with gunpowder also made these jobs the most dangerous.

DuPont selected its powdermen from the ranks of what they called "outside" workers, who were laborers that performed common and simple tasks such as collecting willow branches for making charcoal. The Company paid outdoor workers approximately $5 less per month than powdermen throughout the Antebellum period.

The majority of powdermen went through two to three years of outside work before being promoted. Only in rare incidences, such as explosions resulting in significant loss of life, were outside workers made powdermen more quickly.