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Margaretta du Pont Coleman papers

Identifier: 2027


The Margaretta E. "Meta" du Pont Coleman Papers primarily consist of family correspondence collected by Meta Coleman.


  • 1852-1915



4.33 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Little has been written on the branch of the du Pont family that relocated to Louisville, Kentucky in the mid-nineteenth century. Antoine Bidermann du Pont (1837-1923), known as “Bidermann,” was the youngest child of Alfred Victor du Pont (1798-1856) and Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot du Pont (1807-1898). After attending school in Philadelphia, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1856 and moved to Louisville where he went into a paper mill business with his brother A.V. “Fred” du Pont. Both of the brothers achieved financial success; Bidermann du Pont was later president of the Elizabethtown and Paducah Railroad, the Louisville, Paducah and South-Western Railroad, and the Central Coal & Iron Company.

Bidermann du Pont married Ellen Susan Coleman, in April 1861, and they had seven children from 1862-1872. The eldest child, Margaretta Elizabeth (1862-1938), known as “Meta,” was named after her paternal grandmother, with whom she had a warm, close relationship. Meta's siblings include T. Coleman du Pont (1863-1930), president of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (1902-1915) and U.S. senator (1924-1928), and Zara du Pont (1869-1946), known for her work in women's suffrage, labor activism, and social causes.

After the death of her mother in May 1876, Meta du Pont resided for several month with her grandmother at “Goodstay” in Wilmington, Delaware, returned home to Louisville, and attended boarding school in Philadelphia from October 1878 through May 1879. She visited her grandmother at least one a year and they maintained a regular correspondence until her grandmother's death in April 1898. Upon her return from boarding school, Meta du Pont lived in her father's home in Louisville “Central Park”, and was responsible for running the household, and had an active social life consisting of visits with friends, attending parties, plays and dances, and ice skating.

In May 1888, Meta du Pont married a first cousin, Bannen Coleman (1856-1898), a Louisville businessman associated with her brother T. Coleman du Pont and her father. They had three children: Arthur Moxham Coleman (1890-1931), Greta Clare Coleman (1891-1952) and Alfred Victor Coleman (1893-1967). She apparently lived a conventional life of a married upper-middle class woman in the late nineteenth century.

After her husband's death, Meta du Pont Coleman continued to reside at “Central Park” in Louisville. By the first decade of the twentieth century, she had moved to Massachusetts and lived in the Boston area. She was interested in genealogy and collected family memorabilia and information until her death in 1938.


The letters are arranged by recipient of the correspondence, and then chronologically.

Scope and Content

The Margaretta E. "Meta" du Pont Coleman Papers primarily consist of family correspondence collected by Meta Coleman.

The correspondence between Meta Coleman and Bannen Coleman appear to be fairly complete, as do the letters written by Bidermann du Pont and Meta Coleman to Margaretta Lammot du Pont, and the correspondence received by Meta Coleman. The correspondence of the other family members is sporadic, with obvious gaps and omissions; it may no longer be extant, or may remain in the possession of family members.

Much of the correspondence relates to family matters, both in Louisville and on the Brandywine with reports on births, deaths, sickness, weddings, travel, and the social scene. There are descriptions of clothing, household furnishings, servant problems, and weather. There are some references to politics, particularly in the letters from Bidermann du Pont to his mother. The letters between Bannen Coleman and Meta Coleman trace their courtship and subsequent marriage. There is occasional discussion of business in letters from Bidermann du Pont to his mother, and in the letters received by Fred du Pont and Bannen Coleman.

The collection comes from the Louisville, Kentucky branch of du Pont family. The papers are an excellent complement to previously accessioned du Pont family papers at Hagley Museum and Library. There are some letters and other papers of the Louisville du Ponts scattered throughout other du Pont family collections at Hagley. The Margaretta E. "Meta" du Pont Papers is an important resource for any researcher interested in mid to late nineteenth century du Pont family history. The letters document nineteenth century upper-middle and upper class women's concerns, interests, attitudes, and lives.

Related Material

du Pont Family Papers (Accession 1089), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Language of Materials


Additional Information

Additional Description


Gift of Robert Victor Coleman (grandson of Margaretta E. "Meta" du Pont Coleman), October 1991

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Margaretta du Pont Coleman papers
Lynn Ann Catanese
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA