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Eleuthera Bradford du Pont collection

Creation: 1799-1834
Accession: 0146
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.


E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company. The company was established in 1802 by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) and his son Éleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834) for the production of gunpowder. The papers in this collection date from the lifetime of E.I. du Pont and document important aspects of the early history of the DuPont Company.


  • Creation: 1799-1834



6.3 Linear Feet

Historical Note

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company was organized in Paris in 1801 by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) and his son Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834). The next year, E.I. du Pont purchased a mill site on the banks of the Brandywine River just north of Wilmington, Delaware, and began making preparations to establish a black powder manufactory. During the winter of 1802 to 1803, E.I. du Pont recruited a small workforce and began building the company's mills. By the spring of 1804, gunpowder was being produced, and the company had secured a commitment from President Thomas Jefferson to purchase DuPont gunpowder for the Army and Navy. With this contract in place, the company started to recruit immigrant Irish workers for the mills and hired its first independent sales agents.

During the War of 1812, DuPont became a major supplier of gunpowder for the U.S. government as its total sales exceeded 500,000 pounds. After the war, the company expanded rapidly as it began selling large quantities of powder to coal mine operators and railroad entrepreneurs. In 1837 Henry du Pont, E.I.'s son took over the management of the company and began to rationalize the company's managerial practices. During the Civil War, DuPont became the largest supplier of powder for the Union Army, and in the late 1860s and 1870s, it used its wartime profits to purchase control of many of its competitors.

During wartime, the company was a major supplier to the United States government. During peacetime, the company marketed its product towards sportsmen and hunters. Throughout the 1900s and 1910s, the company shifted its focus away from gunpowder production and towards chemistry innovations. By 1926 the company officially dissolved the powder production unit, although it had already been inactive for many years.

Biographical Note

Eleuthera Bradford du Pont (1873-1953) was the daughter of Edward Green Bradford (1848-1928) and his wife, Eleuthera Paulina du Pont (1848-1906), who was, in turn, the daughter of Alexis Irénée du Pont (1816-1857), the youngest child of E.I. du Pont (1771-1834). Edward Green Bradford was the son of Edward Green Bradford (1819-1884). Both Bradfords were lawyers who were frequently counsel for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and this collection of papers is believed to have been preserved by them in their Wilmington offices for a long period. His daughter inherited the papers after his death, and when she died in 1953, her son, Henry Belin du Pont, Jr., gave them to the Hagley Museum & Library.

Eleuthera married Henry Belin du Pont (1873–1902) in 1897 and had Henry Belin du Pont Jr.(1898-1970) and Edward Bradford du Pont (1899-1900).

Scope and Contents

This collection covers the period 1799 to 1834 and includes some of the earliest and most valued records of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. It embraces the full span of the American career of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834), founder of the powder company. The most significant single item among these papers is the original act of association by which the company was founded, signed at Paris in 1801. Other important early DuPont Company documents are an 1808 copy of the articles of agreement made in connection with the Talleyrand loan, as well as documents supplied in an 1817 Chancery suit against the company by Peter Bauduy. Also included are early personnel ledgers (1811-1815).

Deposited at Longwood in 1953 by Henry Belin du Pont *1898-1970), while his uncle Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) was still alive, the collection became a gift in 1959. It is known as the Eleuthera Bradford du Pont collection, in memory of his mother, from whom he inherited it.

The papers reflect important financial and legal aspects of E.I. du Pont's career, especially as head of the powder company. The scope of the collection may be summarized under the following headings: on may be summarized under the following headings: (1) administrative problems, as reflected in correspondence of E.I. du Pont with his managers, Charles François Parent, Raphael Du Planty, and James Antoine Bidermann, and with his brother, Victor du Pont; (2) shareholders of the parent company, Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie, who, in turn, held shares in the powder company; (3) partners in the firm of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., especially Peter Bauduy; (4) agents for the sale of Du Pont powder; (5) the operations of competitors in the manufacture of powder; (6) relations with the War and Navy Departments regarding contracts; (7) explosions and the financial losses entailed by them; (8) sources of capital and raw materials, especially the Talleyrand loan of 1807; (9) personal correspondence of E.I. du Pont with important figures, some of whom were in official positions; and (10) papers referring to the cotton factory of Du Planty, McCall & Co., and to the woolen factory of Du Pont, Bauduy & Co.

The collection stands in the order in which it was received. There has been no alteration in the arrangement. It is reported under files number 1 to 150, within which there are now seventy missing files. A few of the missing ones are now identified among the Longwood Manuscripts, but at what date, or under what circumstances, they were shifted to their present location remains unknown. The following files are missing and unreported in this finding aid: 2-4, 10, 11, 22, 26-28, 33, 35, 36, 38, 40, 42, 49, 50, 60, 61, 68, 70-73, 75, 78-80, 82, 83, 85-90, 92-94, 99, 101, 103, 105, 107-113, 115, 116, 118, 119, 121, 124, 127-131, 133, 135-138, 140-142, and 144.

Those which may be identified, though in some instances are only tentatively, within the Longwood Manuscripts are: file 2 (papers relating to the suit of Madame Bureaux de Pusy), file 10 (papers relating to the equipping and payment of volunteers in 1815), file 69 (papers concerning the suit of Peter Bauduy), file 93 (papers of Du Pont, Bauduy & Co.), file 118 (accounts, 1810), and file 121 (papers concerning the suit against Charles Munns).

This collection should be used in conjuction with certain pertinent portions of company records found in the Longwood Manuscripts and the Henry Francis du Pont collection of Winterthur Manuscripts, and with the Records of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Location of Copies

View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

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

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Eleuthera Bradford du Pont collection
John Beverly Riggs
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA