DuPont Company Seaford Plant recordsCreation: 1938-1988
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company that began as a gunpowder manufacturer in 1802. In 1939, the DuPont Company created the Seaford Plant near Seaford, Delaware, to be the world's first nylon plant. The bulk of the records in this collection relate to the planning of the Seaford Plant's 50th anniversary celebration events; however, there is a small amount of documentation related to the introduction of nylon, as well as operation and wage statistics from the 1940s through the 1960s that would be of interest to researchers interested in textiles, manufacturing, or labor practices.
- Creation: 1938-1988
- E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Seaford Nylon Plant (Organization)
1.25 Linear Feet
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company that began as a gunpowder manufacturer in 1802. In 1939, the DuPont Company created the Seaford Plant near Seaford, Delaware, to be the world's first nylon plant. Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) first produced nylon at the DuPont Experimental Station in 1935. After determining that low-cost production was possible, the DuPont Company set out to build a plant to produce its first product--women's nylon hosiery. The 609-acre site near the Nanticoke River was chosen because of its proximity to major markets and raw material supplies, as well as the low tax rates in Sussex County. Built in fourteen months, production started in the plant on December 12, 1939. The town of Seaford soon became known as "The Nylon Capital of the World," and the plant ran twenty-four hours a day. In its first year, the plant produced four million pounds of nylon fiber. Seaford lost many of its first male employees to the war effort, but female workers oversaw the production of nylon for parachutes and B-29 bomber tires.
After World War II, the plant was an important part of the DuPont Company's textile fiber program. One of the production units was converted into a pilot plant in 1948 for "Fiber X," later introduced as Dacron. Nylon used in the carpet industry was developed at the plant in 1958. The Seaford Plant employed 4,600 people during its peak years.
Nylon began to lose its popularity in the 1970s when consumer taste shifted toward other fabrics and styles. Competition increased when other countries began to produce nylon for far less than in the United States. In the mid-1980s, DuPont began downsizing at the plant and, by 2003, sold its synthetic fiber division Invista to Koch Industries, Inc. in a deal that included the Seaford Plant. The building was awarded a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in 1995.
Scope and Contents
The bulk of the records in this collection relate to the planning of the Seaford Plant's 50th anniversary celebration events; however, there is a small amount of documentation related to the introduction of nylon, as well as operation and wage statistics from the 1940s through the 1960s that would be of interest to researchers interested in textiles, manufacturing, or labor practices.
This collection has been arranged into three series: Organizational files; Seaford Plant anniversary files; and Employee scrapbooks.
The Organizational files series contains information about the invention of nylon, the introduction of nylon to DuPont employees and to the public, the manufacturing process, and the continuing development of nylon. The series also shows the relationship between the Seaford Plant and the community, and consists of some operations and wage statistical information from the 1940s through the 1960s, as well as materials documenting policies related to World War II.
The Seaford Plant anniversary files series documents the planning of the plant's 20th, 25th, and 50th anniversary celebration events. The majority of the materials are for the 50th anniversary, which featured numerous events, including an open house, Christmas parade, dinner, and reenactment of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) traveling from Dover, Delaware, to Seaford, Delaware, for the opening of the plant, called the "Nylon Express."
The Employee scrapbooks series consists of three scrapbooks, mostly containing newspaper clippings, as well as photographs documenting the history of the plant. Two scrapbooks date from the 1940s; the third is from 1978 to 1980.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films (Accession 1990.266), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- DuPont Company Seaford Plant records
- Laurie Sather
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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