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Francis Gurney du Pont papers

1844-1900
 Collection
Accession: 1600

Abstract

Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) was the youngest son of Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857) and Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876), and grandson of Éleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company. The papers consist of du Pont's student lecture and laboratory notes; letters; technical notes and papers; records of gunpowder production; patent specifications and drawings; patent correspondence; and printed patents related to gunpowder.

Dates

  • 1844-1900

Creator

Extent

0.6 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) was the youngest son of Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857) and Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876), and grandson of Éleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company.

Du Pont graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1870. The following year, he began his career with E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. as an operator of graining mills. In 1874, he became a junior partner of the firm and later served in the highly important capacity of general manager, and as vice president, until 1902. That year, even with the death of Eugene du Pont (1840-1902), du Pont declined the presidency of the firm due to ill health. He wanted to sell the company to competitor Laflin & Rand. He mistrusted the modern business practices that he believed the younger generation would implement at the DuPont Company. He lost control of the company to cousins Alfred I. du Pont (1864-1935), T. Coleman du Pont (1863-1930), and Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954).

In 1888, du Pont supervised the building of the blasting powder mills at Mooar, Iowa. At Carney's Point, New Jersey, he superintended the plant which produced smokeless powder. In 1893, he and Pierre S. du Pont patented their solvent recovery process for the manufacture of smokeless shotgun powder.

Aside from his abilities as a chemist, du Pont was interested in astronomy and in the improvement of telescopes.

In 1871, du Pont married Elise Wigfall Simons (1849-1919). The couple had ten children. Du Pont died November 7, 1904, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Scope and Contents

Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) papers consist of du Pont's student lecture and laboratory notes; letters; technical notes and papers; records of gunpowder production; patent specifications and drawings; patent correspondence; and printed patents related to gunpowder. There are also a few items from Alfred V. du Pont (1798-1856), Lammot du Pont (1831-1884), and Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954).

Among the items related to the gunpowder manufacture are an account of powder furnished to the government during the War of 1812 prepared by A. V. du Pont; notes by E. I. du Pont relating to the type of powder used in France and Holland; and notes on the cost of making gunpowder and military powder inspection in the 1840s; memoranda of powder tests and experiments during the 1850s and 1860s; notes and plans for improvements in the Hagley Yard; and a list of principal explosions (1805-1858). There are also a number of patents, both American and British, on improvements in explosives manufacture.

Du Pont's notebooks include one from his days as a chemistry student at the University of Pennsylvania and twelve others relating to experiments and notes on the causes of explosions at the powder mills.

There is also a body of correspondence with patent attorney Edgar Martin Marble relating to securing patents for smokeless powder at home and abroad.

Access Restrictions

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

Related Materials

Francis Gurney du Pont papers (Accession 0504), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English

French


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Francis Gurney du Pont papers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400