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Wilmington Trust Company records

1909-1958 Majority of material found within 1931-1954
 Collection
Identifier: 2118

Abstract

The Wilmington Trust Company is a financial institution that was started as a banking, trust, and safe deposit company for the du Pont family and other Delaware wealthy families. It is now a subsidiary of M & T Bank. The records contain some information on the workings of the Trust Department, but are more useful for the information they contain on the individual companies in which the department invested. It includes account reviews, responsibility reviews, and security reviews, but is largely investment analysis files, by company.

Dates

  • 1909-1958
  • Majority of material found within 1931-1954

Creator

Extent

46 Linear Feet

Historical note

The Wilmington Trust Company is a financial institution that was started as a banking, trust, and safe deposit company for the du Pont family and other Delaware wealthy families.

The Wilmington Trust Company was incorporated on March 2, 1901, as the Delaware Guarantee & Trust Company. It assumed its current name upon formal organization on March 6, 1903, and opened for business in the first unit of the Du Pont Building on July 8, 1903. The company was organized in the interest of T. Coleman and Pierre S. du Pont, who were the first president and vice preident respectively. One of the primary functions of the company was to manage trusts for those branches of the du Pont family, as well as for the Bancrofts and other Wilmington industrialists.

After 1946, the company absorbed a number of local banks (including the National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine and the First National Bank), giving it a state-wide network of branches, and it became a full-service commercial bank.

In 1971, it became one of the founding members of NASDAQ. In 1999, it moved its listing to the New York Stock Exchange, which was de-listed in 2011.

Due to falsified bank records and other woes, the company was forced into a fire sale to M & T Bank in 2010.

Scope and Contents

The records contain some information on the workings of the Trust Department, but are more useful for the information they contain on the individual companies in which the department invested. It includes account reviews, responsibility reviews, and security reviews, but is largely investment analysis files, by company.

The bulk of the records consist of investment analysis files maintained by trust officers J. Sellers Bancroft (1904-1972) and his successor Joseph Y. Jeanes. The files are arranged alphabetically for each company or government body whose securities were held by the individual trusts managed by the department. The files are primarily composed of broker's reports from organizations such as Moody's Investment Service or Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co., analyzing corporate performance and relative investment risk, with periodic assessments from the Trust Department as to whether the security should be held or sold. The files also contain runs of corporate annual reports, meeting notices, prospectuses, and other literature typically sent to stockholders. In addition to individual company files, there are also files on specific industries as a whole, such as chemicals, rails, utilities, tobacco, chain stores, television, etc.

While most large American and some foreign companies are represented, coverage is not uniform. Investments were usually conservative, meaning in the period before 1945 a preponderance of railroad bonds and utilities. The files trace various shifts of investment to petroleum, consumer goods, retailing, and entertainment after 1945 and contain useful analysis of the collapse of older industries like textiles, and particularly rails, during the same period. They also cover the bankruptcy and liquidation of investments in 1920s office buildings during the Depression.

Because of its clientele, many of the trusts' holdings are local Delaware companies, ranging from DuPont and Hercules through the Bancroft textile firms to small businesses and downstate banks and manufacturing firms, clubs, and vacation communities. The Sharples family had large investments in apartments, including "negro housing," in Wilmington and Greater Philadelphia.

The corporate annual reports contain information and images from a wide range of businesses during World War II, postwar reconversion, and the beginnings of 1950s prosperity. Those from consumer goods, retailing and entertainment companies are particularly interesting for their images of women in corporate publicity.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Wilmington Trust Company records
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2020: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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