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W.W. Laird collection of graphic materials and family movies

Creation: circa 1880-1975
Accession: 1994-316


William Winder ‘Chick” Laird, Jr. (1910-1989) was a director of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and a financial advisor, starting his own brokerage firm in Wilmington, Delaware. This collection includes photographs of interiors and exteriors of du Pont family estates and homes in Delaware, as well as portraits and snapshots of du Pont and Laird family members. The collection also contains a large number of lantern slides, blueprints, maps, and film reels of home movies and family skits.


  • Creation: circa 1880-1975



20 Linear Feet

Physical Description

141 photographic prints ; 14 x 11 in. or smaller; 2 photographic prints ; 10.5 x 106 in.; 1 photograph : ambrotype ; 2.5 x 3 in.; 1 photograph : cabinet photograph ; 6.5 x 4.25 in.; 4 photographic prints : stats ; 22.5 x 18 in. or smaller; 5 items : blueprints ; 146 x 105 cm. or smaller; 61 slides : lantern, many color ; 4 x 7 in. or smaller; 2 slides : lantern ; 4 x 10.25 in.; 7 transparencies : stereographs, glass ; 3.25 x 6.75 in.; 2 prints ; 28 x 43 cm. or smaller; 4 photomechanical prints (posters) : color ; 117 x 79.5 cm. or smaller; 1 album (53 photographic prints) ; 30 x 26 cm.; 1 portfolio (7 prints, 7 photographic prints) ; 20 x 25 cm.; 7 items; 1 reel (100 ft.) : si., col. ; 16 mm.; 17 reels (100 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.; 2 reels (200 ft.) : si., col. ; 16 mm.; 4 reels (200 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.; 2 reels (400 ft.) : si., col. ; 16 mm.; 27 reels (400 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.; 1 reel (800 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.; 9 reels (1600 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.; 10 reels (2000 ft.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm. and 6 videocassettes (VHS)

Biographical Note

William Winder ‘Chick” Laird, Jr. (1910-1989) was a director of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and a financial advisor, starting his own brokerage firm in Wilmington, Delaware. He was the son of William Winder Laird (1878-1927) and Mary Alletta Belin DuPont Laird (1878–1938). He had four siblings. His mother was great granddaughter of Eleuthere Irenee du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont company. Her parents were Lammot du Pont (1831-1884) and Mary Belin du Pont (1839-1913). Mary Alletta Belin DuPont Laird was one of eleven children. Laird Jr. had many cousins, most of whom lived nearby on named estates in Delaware. Laird, Jr. spent many of his later years collecting local and Du Pont family history.

Scope and Content

Many of the photographs in this collection are interiors and exteriors of du Pont family estates and homes in Delaware including Eleutherian Mills, Hagley House, Hagley, Rencourt, Granogue, Gibralter, the Charles Copeland house, Goodstay, Nemours, St. Amour, Owl's Nest, Pelleport, and the White Farm House. There are also interior views of the home of Lammot du Pont on Powelton Avenue in Philadelphia. Other photographs of local Wilmington, Delaware area buildings include the First Office of the DuPont Company; the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School; Christ Church; the second Du Pont Company office; Sand Hole; Breck's Mill; Walker's Mill; the Delaware Trust Building; and the Brandywine Building, etc. There is one photograph of a building on Breck's Lane, identified as an old stable built by Alfred I. du Pont and later converted to two residences. There are also many photos of local bridges including New Bridge, Old New Bridge, Thompson's Bridge, and Van Buren St. Bridge. Other views include Brandywine Creek, Rockford Dam, the Du Pont Company powder yards on the Brandywine, Henry Clay village, Brandywine Springs Park, Brandywine Park, and the Greenville and Kennett Pike areas. Miscellaneous photographs include portraits and snapshots of du Pont and Laird family members; photographs from the presentation of the Legion of Honor to P.S. du Pont in 1954; group portraits of the "All Wilmington Band Festival," conducted by Arthur Pryor (1940), the "All Wilmington Chorus" (1940), and "The 'Tippecanoe' Harrison & Morton Club" (1888); and a birds-eye view print of lower Manhattan. There are also two large panoramic photographs taken from Rockford Tower, Wilmington, Delaware.

There is an album of photographs of the home of Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., located on Rising Sun Lane in Wilmington, Delaware, taken circa 1975. The house was once owned by Irénée Du Pont and was known as the Square House. Views include the driveway, exterior and interior views, and servants.

The collection also contains a large number of lantern slides, most with wood mounts and captions, two of which are panoramic. The subjects include reproductions of paintings and other art; foreign views; American Civil War scenes; nursery rhymes; and humorous illustrations. Four of the slides are of Henry Clay Village, Delaware (circa 1900), one showing Rockford Tower under construction. There are also seven glass stereographs of views in Germany and France.

The collection includes approximately 70 reels of 16mm black & white film. More than half of these films are skits and plays composed and performed by William W. "Chick" Laird and other children of the du Pont and related families in the 1920s and 1930s, referred to as "Padle-A-Miow" movies. These humorous dramas were filmed in and around various du Pont estates in Delaware along the Brandywine and often featured airplanes, automobiles, and boats. Other films are home movies of the following subjects: du Pont family homes including Windmar, Louviers, and Xanadu, the du Pont home in Cuba; trips to Mt. Rainier and Glacier Park; H.B. du Pont's airplane; and other miscellaneous subjects.

A group of motion picture equipment, including a movie camera, editing equipment, and a motion picture projector, accompanies this collection. Other materials relating to the "Padle-A-Miow" movies, such as artwork, captions, correspondence, and audiotape recordings (which were played during more recent showings of the films), are also with the collection.

There are also five copies of Fortune magazine from the 1930s, one of which contains an article on the DuPont Company.

Booklets in the collection include the following: a New Year's Eve booklet with a reproduction of the painting "Skating at Breck's Mill," by artist Richard Layton on the cover, circa 1964, and a note card with the same painting; a copy of a booklet entitled "To commemorate a dinner given to Col. Henry A. du Pont, November 10, 1915"; a reprint of that booklet, which was distributed as a New Year's gift by W.W. Laird in 1973; a booklet entitled "Du Pont de Nemours 1800-1950," printed in 1949 as a souvenir picture book for the one-hundred fiftieth anniversary of the du Pont family; and a portfolio entitled "The Brandywine: as sketched by the artist 1870, as snapped by the camera 1937." The portfolio contains images of local Wilmington area sites near the Brandywine River, including the Market Street Bridge and Lea's Mill; Ridele's Bank Mills; New Bridge; Rokeby, Breck's Mill and Hodgson's Mill; Upper dam, DuPont powder mills; and the paper mills, Rockland.

There are four large color posters from World War I France with patriotic images.

A number of blueprints and maps are also part of the collection, including two copies of a 1903/1889 map of DuPont Company Brandywine properties, by Robert Frazier; a photostat enlargement of a Brandywine Banks map, originally from an atlas; an insurance survey map of the Hagley property, owned by R. & A. Dawes (1797); a printed map of the Christ Church, Christiana Hundred area in Delaware as it was in 1856 by Richard Layton (1959); a blueprint of the Upper property with a plan of the water and electric lines, etc. (circa 1920); two blueprints showing a map of water pipes on Du Pont properties along the Brandywine, Water Department, Wilmington (1929); and two blueprints of the property map Brandywine Works (February 2, 1917). There is a hand-drawn map of the Greenville-Montchanin-Rockland area.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Access to view lantern slides is at the discretion of the conservator. Please inquire in advance of your visit.

There are no viewing or listening stations for analog audio, video, or film in the reading room. To access this material, please place a digitization request for the item(s).

Language of Materials


Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

W. W. Laird collection of graphic materials and family movies
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA