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DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films

1938-1989, undated
 Collection
Identifier: 1990-266

Abstract

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company, which began as a manufacturer of gunpowder in 1802. In 1939, the Seaford Plant was created by the DuPont Company near Seaford, Delaware to be the world’s first nylon plant. Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) first produced Nylon at the DuPont Experimental Station in 1935. After determining that low-cost production was possible, the DuPont Company set out to build a plant to produce its first product, women's nylon hosiery. Seaford lost many of its first male employees to the war effort, but female workers oversaw the production of nylon for parachutes and B-29 bomber tires. After World War II, the plant was an important part of the DuPont Company’s textile fiber program. One of the production units was converted into a pilot plant in 1948 for “Fiber X”, later to be introduced as Dacron. In the mid-1980s, DuPont began downsizing at the plant and by 2003, sold its synthetic fiber division Invista, to Koch Industries, Inc. in a deal that included the Seaford plant. This collection documents nylon production at the DuPont Company Seaford plant in Seaford, Delaware. It contains photographs, negatives, pamphlets, two 16mm films and one VHS videocassette. The photographs and negatives document the exterior, employees, production of Nylon and miscellaneous activities at the Seaford plant and products created from nylon. The pamphlets were made by the DuPont Company and cover subjects such as world trade, research and pollution control. One pamphlet is specifically about the Seaford nylon plant. The film “Seaford Plant Start-Up” and film transfer on videocassette, document the opening of the plant on November 1, 1939 as well as some production when the plant opened on December 12, 1939.

Dates

  • 1938-1989, undated

Creator

Extent

1 Linear Feet

General Physical Description

225 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. 6 photographic prints : color ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. 46 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, mounted on board. 17 photographic prints : color ; 3.25 x 5 in. mounted on board. 30 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 3 contact sheets. 409 negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 4 negatives : color ; 3 x 4 in. 60 negatives : b&w ; 2 x 2 in. 6 pamphlets. 2 films (700 ft) : 16mm. 1 videocassette (VHS).

Historical Note

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company, which began as a manufacturer of gunpowder in 1802. In 1939, the Seaford Plant was created by the DuPont Company near Seaford, Delaware to be the world’s first nylon plant. Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) first produced Nylon at the DuPont Experimental Station in 1935. After determining that low-cost production was possible, the DuPont Company set out to build a plant to produce its first product, women's nylon hosiery. The 609 acre site near the Nanticoke River was chosen because of its proximity to major markets and raw material supplies as well as the low tax rates in Sussex County. Built in fourteen months, production started in the plant on December 12, 1939. The town of Seaford soon became known as “The Nylon Capital of the World” and the plant ran twenty four hours a day. In its first year, the plant produced four million pounds of nylon fiber. Seaford lost many of its first male employees to the war effort, but female workers oversaw the production of nylon for parachutes and B-29 bomber tires.

After World War II, the plant was an important part of the DuPont Company’s textile fiber program. One of the production units was converted into a pilot plant in 1948 for “Fiber X”, later to be introduced as Dacron. Nylon used in the carpet industry was developed at the plant in 1958. The Seaford plant employed 4,600 people in its peak years.

Nylon began to lose its popularity in the 1970s, when consumer taste shifted toward other fabrics and styles. Competition increased when other countries began to produce nylon for far less than in the United States. In the mid-1980s, DuPont began downsizing at the plant and by 2003, sold its synthetic fiber division Invista, to Koch Industries, Inc. in a deal that included the Seaford plant. The building was awarded a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in 1995.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into three series; Pamphlets, Photographs and Film. The pamphlets are arranged chronologically. The negative envelopes contain numerical notations in the top right hand corner and the photographs contain the notations on the back, in the top right hand corner. These include the accession number "90.266.###". This order has been maintained. The order of the photographs and negatives is based on these numbers.

Scope and Content

This collection documents nylon production at the DuPont Company Seaford plant in Seaford, Delaware. It contains photographs, negatives, pamphlets, two 16mm films and one VHS videocassette. The materials provide a record of the operations of the plant and its buildings as well as the people who worked there.

The photographs date from 1938 to 1988 and document the exterior, employees, production of Nylon and miscellaneous activities at the Seaford plant and products created from nylon. The photographs are of assorted sizes and some have matching negatives. Many of the negatives do not have photographic prints but most have descriptions covering the same topics as the photographs.

The pamphlets were made by the DuPont Company and cover subjects such as world trade, research and pollution control. Five of the pamphlets are from a series entitled "this is Dupont". One pamphlet is specifically about the Seaford Fibers plant. The pamphlets are arranged chronologically and date from 1959 to 1989.

The film “Seaford Plant Start-Up” documents the opening of the plant on November 1, 1939 as well as some production when the plant opened on December 12, 1939. There is also a VHS film transfer that includes extra footage from this production that is not included in the edited film. The collection does not include the original film footage that is included on the videocassette.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Negatives and film material is housed in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing (Box 2, Film Cans 1-2). Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films
Status:
Author:
Lisa Kruczek
Date:
2018.
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400