Francis Gurney du Pont papers1818-1911
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 of du Pont describe both his business activities at E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, his family life, and his activities in the Episcopal Church.
- Du Pont, Francis Gurney, 1850-1904 (Person)
17.5 Linear Feet
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: Francis Irenee (1873-1942), Eleanor (1875-1934), Irene Sophie (1877-1961), Alexis Felix (1879-1948), Ernest (1880-1944), Lionel (1882-1882), Theodore (1884-1911), Reginald (1885-1885), E. Paul (1887-1950), and Archibald (1889-1942). Du Pont died November 7, 1904, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Series I. General business correspondence (1879-1904); Series II. Business correspondence with companies and their representatives (1883-1904); Series III. Miscellaneous business papers (1818-1904); Series IV. Family correspondence (1877-1905); Series V. Miscellaneous family papers (1821-1887); Series VI, VII, & VIII. Papers concerning the Episcopal Church (1856-1918); Series IX. Scientific papers (1880-1905).
Scope and Contents
The papers of Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) describe both his business activities at E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, his family life, and his activities in the Episcopal Church.
The majority of the papers comprise du Pont's general business correspondence, relating to du Pont's experimental work with smokeless powder and the 1897-98 patent agreement with Hudson Maxim (1853-1927). Letters to Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) relate to the company's 1902 incorporation and efforts by the company to get control of the explosives industry. There is also much information on the operation of the Delaware powder mills and the construction of the mills at Mooar, Iowa.
The miscellaneous business papers include statements relating to the Hagley Yard (1891), the Henry Clay Factory (1885-1901), the Iowa Powder Mills (1889-1902), the Sycamore Mills (1891), and the Spring Grove Powder Company plant (1885). Du Pont's laboratory notes include notes on tests on the guncotton works laboratory at Carney's Point, New Jersey (1897-98). There is also a history of explosions at the Brandywine Mills compiled by F. G. du Pont.
Family papers include personal correspondence, biographical and genealogical material. They also document his interest in Henry George's single tax idea. Papers relating to the Episcopal Church in Delaware include correspondence with church leaders, minutes of annual church conventions, and historical notes on individual congregations and church edifices. The scientific papers reflect du Pont's amateur interest in astronomy and telescopes.
There is also a small body of papers of F. G. du Pont's parents, along with notes of Allan J. Henry for his biographies of both Alexis I. and Francis Gurney du Pont.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
- Du Pont, Francis Gurney, 1850-1904 (Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Francis Gurney du Pont papers
- John Beverly Riggs
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- 2021: Ashley Williams