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Edward G. Jefferson papers

1948-1992 Majority of material found within 1979-1987
 Collection
Accession: 2041

Abstract

Edward Graham Jefferson (1921-2006) was a research chemist and chief executive officer of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Jefferson's papers consist of his "personal" business files, and do not include his official correspondence as CEO of the DuPont Company. The papers primarily reflect Jefferson's "Head of State" role at DuPont and his membership on the boards of numerous business, trade, and educational organizations. The papers have been arranged in three series: DuPont Company and personal activities, Outside board memberships, and Speeches.

Dates

  • 1948-1992
  • Majority of material found within 1979-1987

Creator

Extent

41 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Edward Graham Jefferson (1921-2006) was a research chemist and chief executive officer of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.

Jefferson was born in London on July 15, 1921, and received his Ph.D. from King's College of the University of London. He emigrated to the United States in 1951 and began his career with DuPont, where his rise was relatively rapid. He was assistant director of the Research & Development Division from 1964 to 1966, director of the Fluorocarbon Division from 1966 to 1969, assistant general manager of the Plastics Department from 1969 to 1970, assistant general manager of the Explosives Department from 1970 to 1972, assistant general manager of the Polymer Intermediates Department in 1972, and vice president & general manager of the Film Department from 1972 to 1973.

Jefferson was elevated to the post of senior vice president and director in 1973 and was named president and chief operating officer in 1980. The following year he succeeded Irving S. Shapiro as chairman and CEO. DuPont had been badly hurt during the 1980 recession by its over-reliance on fibers, and Jefferson steered the company into new fields, including genetic engineering, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and specialty plastics. A research chemist by training, Jefferson directed huge sums into R&D. The company spent over $1 billion on research and employed more than 6,000 research scientists and engineers in 1985. Jefferson retired the following year and was succeeded by Richard E. Heckert. Jefferson died at Greenville, Delaware, on February 9, 2006.

Scope and Contents

Edward Jefferson's papers consist of his "personal" business files, and do not include his official correspondence as CEO of the DuPont Company. The papers primarily reflect Jefferson's "Head of State" role at DuPont and his membership on the boards of numerous business, trade, and educational organizations. The papers have been arranged in three series: DuPont Company and personal activities, Outside board memberships, and Speeches.

Files in the first series are in alphabetical order, and the speeches are listed chronologically. Contents of the files date from 1962 to 1992, but the preponderance of the material is from the period of 1979, when Jefferson was elected president of the DuPont Company, until 1987, after he retired from the position of chairman and chief executive officer. The files for this period include those titled “Office of the Chairman,” containing information on Conoco’s activities during the transition period following acquisition by DuPont. These files appear to be from the office of R.E. Bailey, vice-chairman.

The DuPont and personal activities files document the more ceremonial aspects of Jefferson's role as DuPont CEO, representing the company in meetings with world leaders, other corporate CEOs, and media representatives and serving on various state and federal panels. The records include travel arrangements, records of meetings, agendas, briefing books, biographies of dignitaries, presentation books, programs, and menus. The major topic, and the major event of Jefferson's tenure, is the bidding war between DuPont and Seagram for control of Conoco Inc., which ended in DuPont's control of Conoco and Seagram's acquisition of the largest single block of DuPont. There are records of frequent ceremonial trips to DuPont and Conoco facilities around the world and notes on both companies' activities in Europe and the Far East.

The files document Jefferson's devotion to promoting industrial research and development, including his sponsorship of David Hounshell's and John K. Smith's full-length study of R&D at DuPont, "Science and Corporate Strategy." Other topics include the promotion of energy conservation, industrial competitiveness, and the international balance of trade. There is a 50th anniversary history of DuPont's Haskell Laboratory for Toxicology and Industrial Medicine, as well as materials relating to General Motors' announcement of the Saturn automobile.

The outside boards files consist of minutes, agendas, annual reports, and financial statements for the many organizations of which Jefferson was a director, committee member, or trustee. Business corporations include AT&T, Chemical New York Company (a bank holding company), and the Seagram Company, Ltd. Trade associations include the Business Council, the Conference Board, the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council (particularly the process for choosing a site for the proposed superconductive supercollider), and the President's Export Council. Educational institutions include the Center for the History of Chemistry, Columbia University, Tuskegee University, and the Universities Research Association. Jefferson also sat on the board of the Winterthur Museum, and there are extensive files on its management during the early 1980s.

The speeches, before a wide variety of venues, are arranged chronologically.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Materials located in remote storage. Advance notice is required. Please allow 48 hours for delivery.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Edward G. Jefferson papers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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