H. Rodney Sharp lettersCreation: 1921-1922
H. Rodney Sharp (1880-1968) was a historic preservationist and husband of Isabella du Pont Sharp (1882-1946), a descendent of the founders of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. The collection contains typed transcripts of letters written by Sharp while the Sharp family, friends, and children's nurses traveled around the world.
- Creation: 1921-1922
H. Rodney Sharp (1880-1968) was a historic preservationist and husband of Isabella du Pont Sharp (1882-1946), a descendent of the founders of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. He was born on July 30, 1880, in Seaford, Delaware, to Eli Richard Sharp (1834-1921) and Sally Brown Sharp (1837-1918). The family later moved to Lewes, where his father was deputy collector of customs for the port. He attended a private school for boys there and then continued his education at Delaware College, now the University of Delaware. After graduating, Sharp became a teacher and principal of a school in Odessa, Delaware.
In 1903, Sharp moved to Wilmington, where he got a job in the accounting department of the DuPont Company. It was here he met, and in 1908, married Isabella Mathieu du Pont, daughter of Lammot du Pont (1831-1884) and Mary Belin du Pont (1839-1913). They had four children: Hugh Rodney Jr. (1909-1990), Bayard (1913-2002), Anne du Pont (1915-1935), and John Mathieu (1916-1926).
The Sharps purchased Gibraltar, a home in Wilmington, that Sharp restored, expanded, and developed the gardens. He also built Hacienda, a red tile-roofed estate in Boca Grande, Florida. Throughout his life, Sharp continued his interests in the University of Delaware and in historic preservation, especially in the town of Odessa, Wilmington, and other areas of Delaware. He was also a dedicated traveler noting that by 1967 he had crossed the Atlantic fifty times. He died on a ship in August 1968 while returning from Italy.
Scope and Contents
The collection contains typed transcripts of letters written by H. Rodney Sharp (1880-1968) while the Sharp family, friends, and children's nurses traveled around the world. Most of the letters are addressed to Frank A. McHugh (1889-1946), private financial secretary to P.S. du Pont (1870-1954), and the remainder to an unidentified "J. C.," who is the child of a friend or family member. One of the letters is from Isabella du Pont Sharp (1882-1946). The itinerary begins in Kyoto and ends in Venice.
The letters reflect views typical of wealthy Western tourists to the Orient. For the most part, the Sharps enjoyed first-class accommodations booked through Thomas Cook & Son and, with the exception of a formal call on an Indian maharaja, socialized almost entirely with English tourists and colonials, and other Westerners. The itinerary included most of the standard tourist sights: Japanese spas, Mount Fuji, Peking, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao, Rangoon, Mandalay, Calcutta, Benares, Darjeeling, Mount Everest, the Taj Mahal, Cairo, the Pyramids, even an audience with the Pope on the homeward leg. Much of the description is of these tourist attractions, and much is somewhat superficial. However, there is an excellent account of Mount Fuji's ascent at night to witness the sunrise from the summit.
Sharp also describes in some detail the small armies of porters, guides, professional beggars, and others who live in part on the tourist trade. There are rather standard contrasts between Western and Eastern customs, but Sharp is usually open-minded, even in describing practices he regards as bizarre, and he rarely condemns the behavior he encounters. His most disparaging remarks are reserved for the protests that Gandhi was organizing against the Raj. This same Anglophilia leads him to condemn the Dutch and Portuguese colonials. Otherwise, he discusses both the positive and negative aspects of Japanese colonialism in Korea and laments the decay, famine, and warlordism he encounters in China.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
- McHugh, Frank A. (Frank Alexander), 1889-1946 (Recipient, Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- H. Rodney Sharp letters
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- 2021: Ashley Williams