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DuPont Company plants during World War I

Creation: 1914-1920
Accession: 1793


E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company. It was organized in Paris in 1801 by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and his son Eleuthère Irénée du Pont and originally produced gunpowder. The collection consists of a binder containing miscellaneous memoranda and tables describing DuPont's manufacture of ordnance between 1914 and 1919.


  • Creation: 1914-1920



1 volume(s)

Historical Note

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company was organized in Paris in 1801 by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) and his son Eleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834). The next year, E.I. du Pont purchased a mill site on the banks of the Brandywine River just north of Wilmington, Delaware, and began making preparations to establish a black powder manufactory. During the winter of 1802 to 1803, E.I. du Pont recruited a small workforce and began building the company's mills. By the spring of 1804, the powder was being produced, and the company had secured a commitment from President Thomas Jefferson to purchase DuPont gunpowder for the Army and Navy. With this contract in place, the company started to recruit immigrant Irish workers for the mills and hired its first independent sales agents.

During the War of 1812, DuPont became a major supplier of gunpowder for the U.S. government as its total sales exceeded 500,000 pounds. After the war, the company expanded as it began selling large quantities of powder to coal mine operators and railroad entrepreneurs. In 1837 Henry du Pont (1812-1889), E.I. du Pont's son, took over the management of the company and began to rationalize the company's managerial practices. During the Civil War, DuPont became the largest supplier of powder for the Union Army, and in the late 1860s and 1870s, it used its wartime profits to purchase control of many of its competitors.

In 1872 DuPont organized the Gunpowder Trade Association, which acted as a cartel to limit competition and raise prices. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the company began experimenting with smokeless powder, and it purchased the rights to distribute dynamite in America from Alfred Nobel. By the late nineteenth century, the company was beginning to lose market share as its mills were becoming obsolete. In 1899 DuPont incorporated and began to modernize its mills and rationalize its archaic management structure.

Throughout the 1900s and 1910s, the company shifted its focus away from gunpowder production and towards chemistry innovations.

Scope and Contents

The collection is a binder containing memoranda and tables describing the DuPont Company's manufacture of ordnance between 1914 and 1919. The emphasis is on the Old Hickory Plant and Hopewell Works and the amount of work needed to bring them into production from greenfield sites. There is a lesser amount of data relating to the Penniman Shell Loading Plant, the Parlin Plant, and the Carney's Point Works. There is also a newspaper clipping containing a rebuttal by Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) of charges made in the New York Times by Ohio Governor and Democratic presidential candidate James M. Cox (1870-1957) of Ohio against T. Coleman du Pont (1863-1930) and the DuPont Company for war profiteering and spreading campaign propaganda against him because he favors the League of Nations and world disarmament.

Access Restrictions

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

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

DuPont Company plants during World War I
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA