Eleuthera du Pont Smith (1806-1876) and Sophie Madeleine du Pont (1810-1888) were daughters of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834) and Sophie Madeleine Dalmas du Pont (1775-1828). This collection contains letters from the du Ponts to Mary Wilkinson, a former student at the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School. The letters discuss domestic matters, including family news, health, faith, and needlework for the mills.
Eleuthera du Pont (1806-1876), a daughter of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834) and Sophie Madeleine Dalmas du Pont (1775-1828), was born at the family home, Eleutherian Mills. Her father was the founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. She was educated at home by her sister, Victorine du Pont Bauduy (1792-1861), and then attended Mrs. Hughes's Boarding and Day School in Philadelphia from 1821 to 1823. She married Thomas MacKie Smith (1809-1852), a physician, in 1834; they had no children.
The Smiths toured Europe in 1846-1847. Eleuthera retrieved many of her grandfather's papers, the Physiocrat Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, and brought them back to the United States. After her husband's death, she became more involved with the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School, which served the children of du Pont company workers, succeeding her older sister Victorine as superintendent in 1861. Eleuthera and her younger sister Sophie Madeleine were also interested in family history and genealogy and together arranged and transcribed family papers.
Sophie Madeleine du Pont (1810-1888), the youngest daughter of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834) and Sophie Madeleine Dalmas du Pont (1775-1828), was born at the family home, Eleutherian Mills. Her father was the founder of E.I du Pont de Nemours & Company. She was educated at home by her sister, Victorine du Pont Bauduy (1792-1861), and then attended Mrs. Grimshaw's school in Philadelphia for several months in 1825. In 1833, du Pont married her first cousin, Samuel Francis du Pont (1803-1865), a son of Victor du Pont and Gabrielle Josephine de La Fite de Pelleport du Pont. There were no children by this marriage. Du Pont resided along the Brandywine her entire life, first in her parents' home, and then in her husband's home, Louviers, located across the river. Her interests included family history, drawing, literature, religion, politics, and missionary work.
Due to Samuel Francis du Pont's naval career, which often kept him away from home, the couple frequently corresponded. After her husband's death, she edited two volumes of selections of his papers and was concerned with rehabilitating his reputation, which had suffered after he was blamed for the failure of the Union Navy's attack on Charleston. Suffering from a variety of health problems, du Pont was frequently housebound and consequently regularly corresponded with friends and family whom she was unable to visit.
Scope and Contents
The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence from Eleuthera du Pont Smith (1806-1876) and Sophie M. du Pont (1810-1888) to Mary Wilkinson of Philadelphia and Washington. Wilkinson was a former pupil of Smith's at the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School (BMSS). The letters from Smith to Wilkinson contain information about family marriages and deaths, health, and her own activities, which included teaching at BMSS and participating in a church sewing society. Smith also wrote about her domestic servants, detailing their duties which included needlework for the mill (sewing bags, sieves, and bolting cloths). The letters from Sophie M. du Pont to Wilkinson discuss health, servants, and religious faith.
The collection also includes unidentified letters from the 1870s and news clippings regarding du Pont family divorce suits.