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Haskell Laboratory for Toxicology and Industrial Medicine records

1930-2013
 Collection
Accession: 2739

Abstract

The Haskell Laboratory was established in 1935 as a Dupont Company research laboratory tasked with identifying potential health risks that could result from DuPont products and processes. DuPont called the laboratory the first of its kind in the United States, and the lab grew to become a respected and influential leader in the fields of occupational safety and toxicology. The records in this collection provide insight into the early motivations for creating the lab. In addition, the various papers, records, and publications document the laboratory’s research interests, business operations, and human resources activities.

Dates

  • 1930-2013

Creator

Extent

5 Linear Feet

Historical Note

The Haskell Laboratory for Toxicology and Industrial Medicine, a DuPont Company research laboratory in the occupational safety and toxicology space, was established in 1935 as the Haskell Laboratory of Industrial Toxicology. At its inception, the lab's primary focus was to determine potential health risks that could result from DuPont products and processes. In the early 1930s, a significant number of employees in the DuPont Dye Manufacturing Plant in Deepwater, New Jersey, reported cases of bladder cancer. This health crisis, in addition to several others plaguing the company and its employees, prompted several leading executives within the DuPont organization to propose the creation of a research facility that would test the safety of new products and processes to protect both employees and consumers from adverse effects. In July 1934, the board of directors agreed to create a lab charged with this purpose, and on 22 January 1935, the company formally opened the lab which they named for vice president and member of the board of directors Harry G. Haskell (1870-1951), a staunch advocate for employee safety. In press releases included in this collection, the Dupont company claimed that their new laboratory was the first of its kind in the United States since no other laboratory in the country was dedicated to researching industrial toxicology.

The laboratory's original building had 10,000 square feet of floor space and was located in the DuPont Experimental Station along the Brandywine Creek. However, within a year of the building’s dedication, Haskell management began reporting difficulties in the space. Problems ranging from poor lighting and inadequate space to experiment contamination due to vapors from neighboring chemical plants raised the need for a new laboratory. In 1953, the laboratory moved to a new, 38,000 square foot facility in Newark, Delaware. Renovations to this building completed in 1983 increased the space to 163,000 square feet. The expansion of the physical space as well as the growing number of employees which increased from nine people in 1935 to 230 people in 1985, demonstrated the growing significance of the Haskell Laboratory within the DuPont company. In addition, because scientists at the Haskell Laboratory consistently published their findings in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, the laboratory earned an exceptional reputation, and its scientists garnered a great deal of respect in the scientific community. The Haskell laboratory became an influential organization in the development of industry standards, guidelines, and regulations, and the lab’s leadership frequently spoke at industry conferences and served as consultants to those interested in toxicology and employee safety.

By the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, the Haskell laboratory had produced findings on a wide-range of occupational safety practices as well as toxicology studies on materials from many industries including textiles, chemicals, agricultural products, and pharmaceuticals. While the lab’s primary focus was on testing products and processes for the DuPont company, it also agreed to perform research for organizations outside of DuPont. Corporate restructuring and budgetary concerns often affected how aggressive Haskell pursued external work. When DuPont underwent significant restructuring during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Haskell management was particularly interested in maximizing its external revenue streams.

Over the course of its operations, the laboratory underwent a few name changes. Originally named the Haskell Laboratory of Industrial Toxicology, the laboratory changed its name to the Haskell Laboratory for Toxicology and Industrial Medicine when it moved to its Newark location in 1953. On 7 June 1983, a consolidation of the Haskell Laboratory and the Stine Laboratory led to the creation of the Stine-Haskell Site. Finally, in 2001, after an announcement that the laboratory would be restructured into a business unit and would more actively solicit external work, the laboratory was renamed the Haskell Laboratory for Health and Environmental Sciences. Despite these name changes, Haskell and DuPont employees referred to the laboratory as simply the Haskell Laboratory. As of 2019, the Haskell Laboratory remains in operation and continues as a research laboratory within the DuPont company.

Arrangement

The records are organized and arranged into five series:

Series I : Records from the Wilmington years - arranged chronologically according to dates of creation

Series II: Records from the Newark years - arranged chronologically according to dates of creation.

Series III: Haskell Laboratory employees - divided into three subseries. Each subseries is arranged by document type or subject and then chronologically.

Series IV: Events, anniversaries and awards - divided into five subseries. Each subseries is arranged chronologically and then by document type or subject.

Series V: Publications and newsletters - divided into two subseries. Each subseries is arranged by document type or title and then chronologically.

Scope and Content

The Dupont Haskell Toxicology Lab records provide insight into the laboratory's founding and purpose, its employees and leadership, its significant milestones, and some of its later aims and goals. The records also speak to the challenges within the professional toxicology research field during its infancy and the evolution that occurred within this field from the middle of the twentieth century to the early twenty-first century.

Written proposals, reports, and correspondence spanning 1930 to 1935 discuss the laboratory’s founding and its initial purposes. These materials also document the laboratory’s early challenges and its subsequent growth. However, the bulk of the collection focuses on the years between 1953 to 2010 when the laboratory was situated in its Newark location. Published journal articles, transcripts of speeches, and employee papers from this period offer information on the research topics that the laboratory investigated as well as insight into the laboratory’s business operations. Company produced histories, newsletters, and other ephemera describe the human resources activities and shed light on people employed at Haskell. The opening of the Wilmington laboratory in 1935, the opening of the Newark laboratory in 1953, and anniversaries in 1978 (25 years in Newark location) and 1985 (50th anniversary of the company's founding) are well-documented. Guest lists for these events are useful for identifying employee names as well as VIPs in the toxicology field.

Finally, business planning materials from the 1990s and early 2000s give insight into the company's later direction and goals. Presentation slides and strategic plans discuss changing corporate structures, evolving business models, and new challenges facing toxicology research.

Aside from one volume of lab reports from 1935 to 1937, lab books and lab reports as well as detailed financial records are notably absent from the collection. While some presentations, memoranda, and correspondence offer insight into building and running costs, and some published articles and speech transcripts discuss specific research conducted at Haskell, the collection lacks detailed, day-to-day scientific and financial records.

Access Restrictions

Employee papers containing private information are subject to a 75-year time seal from the date of their creation.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Related Material

William Henry Radebaugh films and scripts (Accession 1975.412), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

History of Kevlar oral history interviews (Accession 2014.249), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

The published version of Fifty years of Research and Service can be found in the Parry Norling collection of DuPont records (Accession 2510), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Gift of Kim Birkmeyer, 2018

Separated Material

All audio/visual material such as photographs, negatives, and slides was transferred to the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department with the exception of one mixed binder of documents and photographs which remained with this collection to preserve the binder's context.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Haskell Laboratory for Toxicology and Industrial Medicine records
Status:
Author:
Michael DiCamillo
Date:
2019
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2022: Box 5 addition, Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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