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Henry Belin du Pont collection

Creation: 1814-1913
Accession: 0178


Henry Belin du Pont (1898-1970) was a research engineer with General Motors and the vice president of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company from 1939 to 1963. This collection contains correspondence from several generations of the family from the early nineteenth through the twentieth century, including Francis Gurney Smith (1784-1873), Elizabeth (Eliza) MacKie Smith (1787-1861), Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876), Frances du Pont Coleman (1838-1902), Eleuthera "Ella" du Pont Bradford (1848-1906), Eleuthera Bradford du Pont (1873-1953), Alicia Bradford Maddox (1875-1920) and Phoebe George Bradford (1794-1840).


  • Creation: 1814-1913



11.66 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Henry Belin du Pont (1898-1970) was a research engineer with General Motors and the vice president of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company from 1939 to 1963. He was the son of Eleuthera "Eleu" Bradford du Pont (1873-1953) and Henry Belin du Pont (1873-1902). In 1902, after his father's death from tuberculosis, du Pont and his mother returned from California to live near their family in Delaware. he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Yale University in 1920 and a bachelor of science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1923. Beginning his career with General Motors as a research engineer, he went to work at the family business in 1928. Du Pont was a company vice president until 1963 and continued as a member of the board of directors and finance committee until his death.

Du Pont's mother, Eleu Bradford du Pont, was a daughter of Judge Edward Green Bradford (1848-1928) and Eleuthera "Ella" du Pont Bradford (1848-1906). Ella du Pont Bradford was a daughter of Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857) and Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876) and lived in the family home Hagley for much of her life.

Scope and Contents

This is a valuable collection of Henry Belin du Pont's (1898-1970) family correspondence comprising several generations from the early nineteenth through the twentieth century. Du Pont inherited the correspondence from his mother, Eleuthera Bradford du Pont (1873-1953).

The correspondence between du Pont's great-great-grandparents, Francis Gurney Smith (1784-1873) and Elizabeth (Eliza) MacKie Smith (1787-1861), was written while Smith served in the militia in 1814 and reflects the growing trend in companionate marriages of the early nineteenth century. The letters are affectionate and discuss household work and their children's health. There is also correspondence from the Smiths to their daughter Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876), which contains news about the family, health, and visiting.

Joanna Smith du Pont's letters to her daughters Frances du Pont Coleman (1838-1902) and Eleuthera "Ella" du Pont Bradford (1848-1906) document the closeness and interdependent nature of their relationship and show the importance of the women's network of family to help with domestic affairs. Candid about daily life and activities, family, and friends, the correspondents discuss church matters, servants, clothing, health, medicinal remedies, housecleaning, soldiers stationed on the property during the Civil War to guard the powder yards, and the effect of explosions at the powder yard.

The papers of Ella du Pont Bradford include letters written to her mother, Joanna Smith du Pont, which document her daily activities such as child-rearing, cooking, supervising servants, and visiting other family members. She also wrote about farm animals, particularly cows, used for dairy products. Bradford received letters from her sister Frances du Pont Coleman; the majority were written from Europe and describe travel, local customs, scenery, and sight-seeing. There is also some discussion of domestic matters such as servants, family news, and knitting. Other incoming letters to Bradford pertain to the deaths of her mother and sister. The letters from 1893 concern beekeeping and her purchase of sheep.

Additional Bradford papers include diaries, with pages removed, but the remaining entries show her activities as a teenager, including attendance at school, music lessons, social events, and church; sleighing; visiting; and courting. The diaries contain observations about the clothing worn by family members and reflect the importance and closeness of female friendships. Accounts consist of Bradford's household and personal receipts, which document the purchases and expenditures for goods and services of an upper-class family in the first decade of the twentieth century. The accounts also include the receipts of her daughter, Eleuthera Bradford du Pont (1873-1953), for the purchase of stocks and bonds after the death of her husband, Henry Belin du Pont.

Other materials in this collection include a list of wedding presents for Alicia Bradford Maddox (1875-1920) and typescripts of Phoebe George Bradford's (1794-1840) diaries.

Access Restrictions

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

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Henry Belin du Pont collection
John Beverley 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