J. Edgar Rhoads oral interview transcript1969
- Rhoads, J. Edgar (Joseph Edgar), 1883-1981 (Interviewee, Person)
- Wilkinson, Norman B. (Interviewer, Person)
- Pizor, Faith K. (Interviewer, Person)
Rhoads was born in Plainfield, Indiana, on September 11, 1883, the son of Joseph Rhoads (1867-1936), the principal of the local Friends' academy. The family returned to Wilmington, Delaware, the following year. After attending the Westtown School and William Penn Charter School, Rhoads was persuaded to abandon a career in medicine to join the family leather manufacturing business in 1903, the only other male heirs of his generation being infants.
J.E. Rhoads & Sons, which traced its roots to 1702, specialized in leather belting and maintained a factory in Wilmington, Delaware, and sales offices in Philadelphia. Rhoads became a partner in 1915 and eventually head of the firm in 1945. He stayed involved with the company until 1979. He represented the seventh generation of his family running the business.
Rhoads died July 17, 1981, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Scope and Contents
In the interviews, Rhoads reminiscences about the major episodes in his life to about 1950 with considerable background material on his family from the time of its conversion to the Quaker faith in seventeenth century England. Rhoads also offers many asides on the workings and processes associated with the leather and tanning business, the company's products, sales, and labor practices. He describes his rural childhood, prep school life, and his civic and charitable activities, particularly his work with the American Friends Service Committee in Europe during and after both world wars and with the United China Relief. He also mentions his failed efforts to return the remains of pioneer inventor Oliver Evans (1755-1819) from New York to Wilmington.
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- 2021: Ashley Williams