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Oral history project notes on Wallace Hume Carothers

1925-1979 Majority of material found within 1978-1979
 Collection
Identifier: 1985

Abstract

Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) was a chemist and inventor of Neoprene artificial rubber and Nylon synthetic fiber. He worked as a chemist in E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's Fundamental Research Program from 1928 until his death in 1937. The records include the handwritten transcripts of a series of interviews with persons who knew and worked with Carothers, conducted in 1978 and 1979. The interviews were conducted by Adeline Bassett Cook Strange (1917-2004), a teacher, researcher, and volunteer who spent her life dedicated to various charitable projects around Wilmington, Delaware.

Dates

  • 1925-1979
  • Majority of material found within 1978-1979

Creator

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) was a chemist and inventor of Neoprene artificial rubber and Nylon synthetic fiber. He worked as a chemist in E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's Fundamental Research Program from 1928 until his death in 1937. Carothers was educated in the public schools of Des Moines, Iowa; he received his bachelor's degree at Tarkio College in Missouri and a doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois. In 1926, he was appointed instructor of organic chemistry at Harvard University. Two years later, Carothers was selected to head the research unit in organic chemistry at the DuPont Company.

At DuPont, Carothers' work focused on polymerization and the ways in which polymers structurally analogous to cellulose and silk could be prepared. In early 1930, the chemists in Carothers' laboratory produced neoprene (synthetic rubber) and the first laboratory-synthesized fiber. In 1934, still working on polymerization theory, Carothers produced the first polyamide fiber which was later to become known as Nylon. During the next two years, Carothers suffered frequent bouts of depression. On April 29, 1937, three weeks after the basic Nylon patent application was filed, he committed suicide.

Scope and Contents

The records include the handwritten transcripts of a series of interviews with persons who knew and worked with Wallace Hume Carothers, the discoverer of Nylon, conducted in 1978 and 1979.

Interviewees include: Dr. Gerard Berchet, Elizabeth Carothers Kyle, Helen Duncan, Julian and Polly Hill, John and Elizabeth "Lib" Miles, William E. Mapel, Martin E. Cupery and Harry B. Dykstra, Charles Reese Jr., and Crawford Greenewalt. There is also related correspondence and a folder of miscellaneous material by and about Carothers.

The interviews were conducted by Adeline Bassett Cook Strange.

Adeline Bassett Cook Strange (also known as A.B.C Strange or Cookie) (1917-2004) was a teacher, researcher, and volunteer who spent her life dedicated to various charitable projects around Wilmington, Delaware. She taught at the Tatnall School from 1939 to 1942 and was active in the organization of the Green Show, Hagley Associates, and the annual Point-to-Point races at Winterthur.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Related Materials

John R. Johnson and Wallace Hume Carothers correspondence (Accession 1842), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Wallace Hume Carothers papers (Accession 1896), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Wallace Hume Carothers correspondence (Accession 2255), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Wallace Hume Carothers photographs (Accession 2001.224), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Wallace Hume Carothers letters to Frances Gelvin Spencer (Accession 2435), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Wallace Hume Carothers material on Nylon (Accession 2726), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Materials

Oral history interviews on Wallace Carothers (Accession 1994.311), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Oral history project notes on Wallace Hume Carothers
Status:
Online
Author:
Ona Coughlan
Date:
2020
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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