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Robert C. Forney papers

Accession: 2689


Dr. Robert C. Forney was a chemical engineer and served as a senior vice president for the DuPont Company. His papers largely document his career with the DuPont Company, his private and public life, artifacts, reports, and include various awards from his career in chemical engineering. Forney's work on redesigning the shuttle rocket booster following the space shuttle Challenger incident is included among his papers.


  • 1947-2017



5 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Dr. Robert Clyde Forney was a chemical engineer and served as a senior vice president of the DuPont Company. Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1927, Forney attended Purdue University from 1944 to 1950, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. In 1950, Forney began employment at the DuPont Company, where he was given the assignment of commercializing Dacron. As part of this assignment, Forney was also responsible for overseeing the startup of plants in Kinston, North Carolina, and Old Hickory, Tennessee. Due to his expertise in textile fibers, he became vice president of the DuPont Textile Fibers Department in 1975. By 1979, Forney became senior Vice President, serving on the DuPont Co. Executive Committee and the Board of Directors until his retirement in 1989.

Forney also provided consultation services to the United States Government. Among them included his contribution to the redesign of NASA’s shuttle rocket booster following the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. In addition, he served as a volunteer consultant to the federal government for a series of National Academy of Engineering studies that included studies on chemical and radioactive disposal, technology transfers from academia to industry, and the transition from socialist to capitalist economies in Eastern Europe. Throughout his lifetime, Forney continued to support his alma mater, where he was honored as a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus, and received an honorary doctorate, an Outstanding Chemical Engineer award, and the President’s Council Pinnacle Award. The Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering is named in his honor. In addition, Forney was chairman of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, a member of the Management Labor Textile Advisory Committee, and the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Forney died on August 3, 2016 at the age of 89.


The Robert C. Forney papers are arranged into two series. Series I is arranged chronologically. Series II is arranged into three subseries. Subseries A contains artifacts and is arranged alphabetically. Subseries B and C are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content

The Robert C. Forney papers are divided into two series. The first series includes miscellaneous material from Forney’s career, including photos of DuPont Company executives, news articles on Forney himself, history of Nylon and Dacron, as well as biographical information on Forney and information on the DuPont plants in Kinston, NC, and Old Hickory, TN. There is also some material related to Forney’s involvement in the Wilmington Club, as well as a photograph of Forney with President Gerald Ford.

The second series consists of artifacts, reports, and awards from throughout Forney’s career. The first subseries mostly contains artifacts from the DuPont Company, including various examples of textile fibers and other DuPont products, such as Dacron and Hypalon. Also included are commemorative items produced by DuPont, such as coasters, paper weights, and dominoes, and commemorative coins from the Wilmington Trust. The second subseries consists of miscellaneous reports collected by Forney throughout his career. Of note are reports on the Space Shuttle Challenger accident to the Presidential Commission and a technical evaluation of NASA’s space shuttle solid rocket booster. Other reports include high-level waste management systems, corporate environmental practices, and the demilitarization of chemical weapons, among others. Lastly, Forney’s various awards are included in the third subseries, and comprise those from DuPont, the National Research Council, National Academy of Engineering, and other organizations and companies in which Forney was involved.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Robert C. Forney papers
Dave Burdash; Clayton J. Ruminski
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA