Skip to main content

Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr. polypropylene plant construction scrapbook and travel memoir

circa 1990 2005
 Collection
Accession: 2015-284

Abstract

Ellis Leroy "Lee" Hawk, Jr. (1926-2012) was a chemical engineer with Hercules Inc., and later the engineering director at Himont. He was involved in establishing polypropylene plants all over the world during the 1950s through the 1980s. This small collection consists of a scrapbook of photographs showing plant construction and a travel memoir written by Hawk about his career in the chemical industry. The memoir provides context for the scrapbook and an interesting portrait of an American businessman during the early stages of globalization.

Dates

  • circa 1990
  • 2005

Creator

Extent

2 volume(s)

General Physical Description

1 scrapbook containing 34 photographic prints : color ; 5 x 7 in. 13 photographic prints : color ; 8.75 x 9.25 in. 1 item, typescript ; 124 pages.

Biographical Note

Ellis Leroy "Lee" Hawk, Jr. (1926-2012) was a chemical engineer with Hercules Inc., and later the engineering director at Himont. He was involved in establishing polypropylene plants all over the world during the 1950s through the 1980s.

In 1926, Hawk was born to Ellis L. Hawk, Sr. (1898-1973) and Edna (Linke) Hawk (1901-1992) in Seymour, Indiana. Upon his high school graduation he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and served with the 3701st Army Air Force in Amarillo, Texas. He graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1950 and went to work for Hercules Inc.

Hercules Inc. was a manufacturer of chemicals and munitions based in Wilmington, Delaware. The company was established in 1912 by T.W. Bacchus (1862-1944) as the Hercules Powder Company. The Hercules Powder Company was one of the companies created from the break up of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours "powder trust" in 1911 as ruled by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In its early years as a separate company, it continued to produce explosives and dynamite.

In 1956, renowned German chemist Karl Ziegler (1898-1973) invented high density polyethylene and polypropylene plastics. Hercules Inc. then began working on the commercialization and expansion of this new technology. Hercules manufacturing plants were built all over the world. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s Hawk traveled overseas to cultivate relationships with counterparts and helped establish these plants. In 1983, in a joint venture with an Italian industrial chemical company Montedison, Hercules formed Himont as part of a divestiture program. Himont became the world's largest manufacturer of polypropylene. Hercules sold its portion of Himont in 1987. Hawk retired in 1990.

Hawk married Sarah Jane (Parent) Hawk (1927-2012) in 1950 and had three children.

Scope and Content

This small collection consists of a scrapbook of photographs showing plant construction and a travel memoir written by Hawk about his career in the chemical industry.

The scrapbook contains images of the plant site, building exteriors, building interiors, silo, lab, warehouse, maintenance shop, control room, offices, poly house and other structures.

The memoir is titled "My Travels and focuses on his career working with high density polyethylene and polypropylene plastics. He covers his experience with many different countries including Great Britain, Germany, Belgium & the Netherlands, Italy, Scandinavia, Iceland, France and Spain, Eastern Europe, Japan, Taiwan and China, Thailand, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Argentina, Jamaica, and the United States.

The memoir provides context for the scrapbook and an interesting portrait of an American businessman during the early stages of globalization.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Gift of Alan Hawk in memory of Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr. polypropylene plant construction scrapbook and travel memoir
Status:
Author:
Laurie Rizzo
Date:
2015
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