J. Edgar Rhoads oral interview transcriptCreation: 1969
J. Edgar Rhoads (1883-1981) was a partner and eventually head of J.E. Rhoads & Sons, a commercial tannery that specialized in the manufacturing of leather belts for mechanical applications. In his oral history, Rhoads recalls the major events in his life to about 1950, with considerable background material on his family. Additionally, he discusses his family's company, J.E. Rhoads & Sons, rural childhood, civic and charitable activities, particularly his work in Europe after both world wars and with the United China Relief.
- Creation: 1969
- Rhoads, J. Edgar (Joseph Edgar), 1883-1981 (Interviewee, Person)
- Wilkinson, Norman B. (Interviewer, Person)
- Ellsworth, Lucius F. (Interviewer, Person)
- Pizor, Faith K. (Interviewer, Person)
J. Edgar Rhoads (1883-1981) was a partner and eventually head of J.E. Rhoads & Sons, a commercial tannery that specialized in the manufacturing of leather belts for mechanical applications.
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
The record consists of a typed transcript of a series of oral history interviews of J. Edgar Rhoads (1883-1981) held at the Hagley Museum and Library between January 31 and April 14, 1969. The interviewers were Dr. Norman B. Wilkinson, Lucius F. Ellsworth, and Faith K. Pizor, or the Hagley staff. The interviews follow a question and answer format and seem to follow a missing list of questions submitted in advance. The person transcribing the tapes made many mistakes in the spelling of proper nouns.
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