DuPont Performance Elastomers, LLC historical files on Neoprene
Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library
PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
Finding aid prepared by Christopher T. Baer, November 2008
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-01-30T09:22-0500
Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Records less than 25 years old are closed to researchers.
Neoprene is the generic name of an artificial rubber developed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company in 1930-31. In 1923, Father Julius Arthur Nieuwland (1787-1936), a professor of organic chemistry at Notre Dame University, had discovered that acetylene gas could be polymerized. Two years later, Father Nieuwland met Elmer K. Bolton of DuPont at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Bolton saw the commercial possibilities of Nieuwland’s discovery, and DuPont’s research chemists then began a long series of experiments at the company’s Jackson Laboratory. In the process, they discovered that Father Nieuwland’s process was not practical on a commercial scale. Further experiments let to the production of divinyl acetylene, from which Dr. Arnold M. Collins isolated chlorophene and 2-chloro-1, 3-butadiene in 1930. Following this breakthrough, DuPont began the manufacture of its first artificial rubber, trademarked “DuPrene,” in September 1931. On December 11, 1936, it was renamed “neoprene,” a term to be used generically.
The records consist of a mix of historical and contemporary documents assembled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of neoprene in 1981, enlarged to cover the 70th anniversary in 2001, and kept up with subsequent additions. Neoprene and other artificial rubbers were successively produced by the Organic Chemicals Department, the Elastomer Chemicals Department, and the Polymer Products Department, which was restyled DuPont Polymers in 1990. In 1994, DuPont and the Dow Chemical Company combined their operations in a 50/50 joint venture, DuPont Dow Elastomers, L.L.C. The partnership was dissolved subsequent to 2001, and neoprene is now (2008) produced by DuPont Performance Elastomers, L.L.C., and its international affiliates.
The records include various internal documents on neoprene dating back to 1931, technical reports by and biographies and memoirs of the leading research chemists involved with the development of neoprene, official chronologies of neoprene research and production, samples of neoprene made in the Louisville Works in 1942, press kits and pamphlets issued to celebrate the anniversaries, and copies of magazines and newsletters containing articles marking the neoprene anniversaries. Of particular note is an illustrated report by Oliver M. Hayden on the parallel development of artificial rubber by I.G. Farben in Germany and Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., in Britain. The most recent documents focus on the medical uses of neoprene and other artificial rubber.
Arranged alphabetically by subject.
Collins, Arnold M. (Arnold Miller), 1899-1982
DuPont Dow Elastomers, L.L.C.
DuPont Performance Elastomers, L.L.C.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Elastomer Chemicals Dept.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Elastomers Division.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Polymer Products Dept.
Hayden, Oliver M.
Imperial Chemical Industries, ltd.
Nieuwland, Julias A. (Julius Arthur), 1878-1936