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Copeland family papers

Creation: 1637-1998 Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1998
Accession: 2203


Consists of the family papers of former DuPont CEO Lammot du Pont Copeland (1905-1983) and his wife Pamela Cunningham Copeland (1906-2001). The Copelands' papers document the lives and interests of a wealthy American couple in the twentieth century. In particular, the papers of Pamela C. Copeland are an important source of information about the public activities of women in the areas of historic preservation, gardening and horticulture, and philanthropy.


  • Creation: 1637-1998
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1998



14 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Pamela Cunningham Copeland (1906-2001), the youngest child of Seymour Cunningham (1863-1944) and Stephanie Whitney Cunningham (1869-1949), was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was raised at the family home, Forked Chimney, in Litchfield and attended several boarding schools, including one in France (1920-1921). In 1924, she graduated from the Knox School in Cooperstown, New York, where she developed an interest in singing. After graduation, she studied voice in New York City for several years, and took classes at the Juilliard School. During this period, she also traveled to Europe and attended social events. In January 1929, she went to Paris to study voice and, while there, met Lammot du Pont Copeland. The couple became engaged in November 1929.

Lammot du Pont Copeland (1905-1983) was born in Christiana Hundred, Delaware, the only child of Charles Copeland (1867-1944) and Louisa d'Andelot du Pont Copeland (1868-1926). His great-great-grandfather E.I. du Pont founded the DuPont Company. His mother was the sister of Pierre, Irénée, and Lammot du Pont, who were presidents of the DuPont Company from 1919 to 1940. His father was assistant treasurer of the DuPont Company from 1903 to 1921, and secretary from 1921 to 1935. Lammot du Pont Copeland graduated from Harvard University in 1928 with a degree in industrial chemistry, and joined the DuPont Company as a chemist at its Fairfield, Connecticut, plant in 1929. He served in plant management, general sales, market analysis, development and other areas before becoming secretary in 1947, vice president and chairman of the finance committee in 1954, and president from 1961 to 1971. He was a director of the General Motors Corporation from 1944 through 1959.

The Copelands were married February 1, 1930, and following a wedding trip, the couple settled in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They had three children: Lammot du Pont Copeland, Jr. (1932-), Louisa d'Andelot Copeland (1936-), and Gerret van Sweringen Copeland (1939-). In 1935, the Copelands moved to Wilmington, Delaware, when Lammot Copeland was transferred to the control section of the Finishes Division at the DuPont Company's headquarters. They purchased a 250-acre estate, Mount Cuba, and their home was completed in 1937. Both of the Copelands have been leaders in a wide range of educational, philanthropic, cultural, and civic activities.

In the 1950s, the Copelands became active in the land conservation movement. They donated open space land and funds to establish the Red Clay Reservation in New Castle County, Delaware, to help offset encroaching development. Pamela Copeland was a leader in the native plant-naturalistic gardening movement. In the 1980s, she founded the Mt. Cuba Center for the Study of Piedmont Flora, which features wildflowers, native trees, and shrubs in a landscape that she designed. She was active in gardening and horticulture and received many awards including the Garden Club of America Achievement Medal (1987); Garden Club of Wilmington, Delaware, Individual Efforts Award (1998); the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Distinguished Achievement Award (1991); and numerous awards in a large variety of horticultural classes at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Pamela Copeland was also involved in the historic preservation movement. She joined the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in 1935 and later worked on the Gunston Hall restoration. Gunston Hall, located in Lorton, Virginia, was the home of George Mason (author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) and was administered by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America. Pamela Copeland served on the Board of Regents for more than 15 years and its furnishings committee, and was elected First Regent in 1951. She frequently gave presentations about the restoration of Gunston Hall, including one at the tenth Williamsburg Antiques Forum. She was the co-author (with Richard MacMaster) of the book The Five George Masons.

In the 1970s, Pamela Copeland served on two White House committees: the President's Advisory Council, and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House (both during the Nixon years). She was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the White House Preservation Fund from the early 1970s through 1990. In addition, Pamela Copeland has been a trustee for the National Trust for Historic Preservation; a member of the Special Fine Arts Committee of the State Department; and treasurer and counselor of the American Association of Museums.

The Copelands were instrumental in the creation of the Hagley Museum and have supported the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation from its inception. In 1952, they donated a large portion of historic property to preserve the site of the original gunpowder works of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Lammot Copeland was one of Hagley's founding trustees and served as treasurer from the institution's beginnings until his death. Additionally, he founded the Eleutherian Mills Residence Endowment.

Both of the Copelands have been involved with the Winterthur Museum from its beginning and have been major benefactors of its programs. Lammot Copeland was chairman of the museum from 1952 until 1977. Pamela Copeland was a charter member of Winterthur Museum's board of trustees and served from 1951 until 1986. She received the Henry Francis du Pont Award for achievement in the field of American decorative arts in 1986.

The Copelands' philanthropy has included a wide range of institutions such as colleges and universities, the Delaware League for Planned Parenthood, museums, historic houses, theaters, musical organizations, and hospitals. They have been recognized with honorary degrees, awards, and commendations.


The original filing arrangement devised by Pamela Cunningham Copeland's staff was maintained.

Scope and Content

The Copelands' papers document the lives and interests of a wealthy American couple in the twentieth century. In particular, the papers of Pamela C. Copeland are an important source of information about the public activities of women in the areas of historic preservation, gardening and horticulture, and philanthropy.

The papers of Pamela Cunningham Copeland cover most of the important events in her life, including thank-you notes from family and friends; invitations and cards for birthdays, weddings and parties; speeches; travel arrangements; and files documenting her membership and support of social, civic and philanthropic organizations. In the last category, a file on the Colonial Dames contains an oral history interview with Copeland in 1994, which provides information about her involvement with Winterthur, the Colonial Dames, Gunston Hall, and the creation of Mount Cuba. The file for the National Council on Household Employment (1939-1940) contains information about the standards and training for domestic service and a speech, "Dignifying Domestic Service" given by Copeland. A file on music and theater contains programs documenting Copeland's performances in plays and recitals. The papers also contain programs, certificates, and awards from the many organizations of which Copeland was a member. There is also the script of a play about the Grand Duchess Anastasia, "Beyond Recognition" by James du Pont.

With the exception of biographical sketches, speeches, and DuPont Company reports, the records of Lammot du Pont Copeland cover his personal life and outside interests. They describe his role in the creation and development of the Hagley Museum and Library and Winterthur, the creation of the Mount Cuba estate, his support of Richard Nixon's presidential campaigns (including the text of Nixon's first inaugural address), his role as an influential Harvard alumnus, his corporate directorships, and his membership in scientific, cultural, social and philanthropic organizations. There are programs, certificates, and awards connected with many of these organizations, along with documents covering a 1959-1960 U.S. visit by Baudouin, King of the Belgians.

The genealogical papers pertain to the pedigrees of both Mr. and Mrs. Copeland, including charts compiled for applications to the Mayflower Society and the Colonial Dames. They also include letters and memorabilia of specific ancestors and collateral relatives and copies of biographical and historical sketches. Mrs. Copeland also collected information on independent oil men William Brough and David Hostetter, with whom her father began his business career. Among the more interesting pieces are Civil War letters of Mr. Copeland's grandmother Sophia Copeland to her soldier husband, letters of Mrs. Copeland's sister Cecil describing the rigors of her life as a World War I nurse in France, and a nineteenth century scrapbook and autograph album of Jane Chester Cunningham.

Access Restrictions

Records less than 25 years old are closed.

Series III, genealogical notes, is closed.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


Gift of Pamela Cunningham Copeland, 1999

Separated Material

Copeland family photographs (Accession 1999.243), Audiovisual Collections and Digitial Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Copeland family papers
Martha Boyd
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