E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Office of the president.
Hagley Museum & Library
Manuscripts & Archives Department
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
39 linear feet
The black powder manufacturing company, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, was organized as a family partnership in 1801. The original mills were located on the banks of the Brandywine River, just north of Wilmington, Delaware. By the second decade of the 19th century the Du Pont Company had become one of America's largest producers of gunpowder and blasting powder. During the War of 1812 and again during the Civil War it was a major supplier of gunpowder for the United States Army. In 1902 the Du Pont Company passed into the hands of three younger du Pont cousins, Pierre S., Alfred I. and T. Coleman. The three cousins sought to bring modern financial and managerial methods to the company, and within three years more than seventy-five percent of the U.S. explosives industry was consolidated under their control. Under the leadership of P.S. du Pont, president from 1905 to 1919, the company was transformed into a diversified, centrally administered corporation with its own operating, sales, and auxiliary departments. In 1915 the Du Pont Company and family acquired a 25% interest in the General Motors Corporation. During the 1920s and 1930s, under the leadership of Irénée du Pont, president from 1919 to 1926, and Lammot du Pont, president from 1926 to 1940, the company became the world's leading chemical manufacturer producing smokeless powder, dynamite, dyes, cellophane, textile fibers, and artificial rubber. The records primarily document the presidency of Lammot du Pont (1926-1940), with some fragmentary records from the Irénée du Pont period (1919-26). The records describe the Du Pont Company's transformation into a diversified chemical company in the years after the First World War. Records document the organization of the Chemical Department under the leadership of Dr. Charles Lee Reese. The collection describes Du Pont's research and development program which during these years focused on dyes, celluloid, cellophane, plastics, ammonia, textile fibers, and artificial rubber. The evolving relationship between corporate strategy, organizational structure, research and development is described. The records also trace the company's post World War I public relations campaign during which it sought to overcome the "Merchant of Death" label. Du Pont's response to the Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, and the C.I.O.'s organizing campaigns are also described in these records. There is also much information on company advertising, participation in the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940, and attempts to market Du Pont products or establish plants in foreign countries, particularly Chile, China, Japan, and in Russia both before and after the revolution.