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DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films
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DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films

Accession 1990.266

Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
askhagley@hagley.org

Finding aid prepared by Lisa Kruczek, 2018.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2018-09-28T13:20-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films (Accession 1990.266), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: DuPont Company Seaford Plant photographs and films
Dates: 1938-1989, undated
Accession Number: 1990.266
Creator: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Seaford Nylon Plant.
Extent: 1 linear feet
Physical Description: 225 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. 6 photographic prints : color ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. 46 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, mounted on board. 17 photographic prints : color ; 3.25 x 5 in. mounted on board. 30 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 3 contact sheets. 409 negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 4 negatives : color ; 3 x 4 in. 60 negatives : b&w ; 2 x 2 in. 6 pamphlets. 2 films (700 ft) : 16mm. 1 videocassette (VHS).
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Abstract: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company, which began as a manufacturer of gunpowder in 1802. In 1939, the Seaford Plant was created by the DuPont Company 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. 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 to be introduced as Dacron. 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. This collection documents nylon production at the DuPont Company Seaford plant in Seaford, Delaware. It contains photographs, negatives, pamphlets, two 16mm films and one VHS videocassette. The photographs and negatives document the exterior, employees, production of Nylon and miscellaneous activities at the Seaford plant and products created from nylon. The pamphlets were made by the DuPont Company and cover subjects such as world trade, research and pollution control. One pamphlet is specifically about the Seaford nylon plant. The film “Seaford Plant Start-Up” and film transfer on videocassette, document the opening of the plant on November 1, 1939 as well as some production when the plant opened on December 12, 1939.
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Administrative Information


Existence and Location of Copies

View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Negatives and film material is housed in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing (Box 2, Film Cans 1-2). Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.

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Historical Note

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is a chemical company, which began as a manufacturer of gunpowder in 1802. In 1939, the Seaford Plant was created by the DuPont Company 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 to be introduced as Dacron. Nylon used in the carpet industry was developed at the plant in 1958. The Seaford plant employed 4,600 people in 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.

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Scope and Content

This collection documents nylon production at the DuPont Company Seaford plant in Seaford, Delaware. It contains photographs, negatives, pamphlets, two 16mm films and one VHS videocassette. The materials provide a record of the operations of the plant and its buildings as well as the people who worked there.

The photographs date from 1938 to 1988 and document the exterior, employees, production of Nylon and miscellaneous activities at the Seaford plant and products created from nylon. The photographs are of assorted sizes and some have matching negatives. Many of the negatives do not have photographic prints but most have descriptions covering the same topics as the photographs.

The pamphlets were made by the DuPont Company and cover subjects such as world trade, research and pollution control. Five of the pamphlets are from a series entitled "this is Dupont". One pamphlet is specifically about the Seaford Fibers plant. The pamphlets are arranged chronologically and date from 1959 to 1989.

The film “Seaford Plant Start-Up” documents the opening of the plant on November 1, 1939 as well as some production when the plant opened on December 12, 1939. There is also a VHS film transfer that includes extra footage from this production that is not included in the edited film. The collection does not include the original film footage that is included on the videocassette.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into three series; Pamphlets, Photographs and Film. The pamphlets are arranged chronologically. The negative envelopes contain numerical notations in the top right hand corner and the photographs contain the notations on the back, in the top right hand corner. These include the accession number "90.266.###". This order has been maintained. The order of the photographs and negatives is based on these numbers.

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Access Points

Employees.
Nylon--History.
Nylon.
Plants.
Seaford (Del.)
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Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Pamphlets, 1959-1989
brochures
Box
3 This is DuPont :The Story of Competition in the American Market, 1959 [DuPont Company pamphlet on the United States economic market. Short articles on cooperation between firms, size of market, demand for goods, the consumer, goods versus services, the consumer, choices, competition, monopolies, growth in the market and the future.] ; 1 item : pamphlet ; 32 pages.
Box
3 This is DuPont : The Story of World Trade, 1960 [Pamphlet detailing Dupont's view on world trade. Short articles on new patterns of trade, competition, trade history, foreign aid and trade, technology, international issues effecting trade, wages, security, restrictions on trade, facilities abroad, national needs and incentives for progress.] ; 1 item : pamphlet ; 32 pages.
Box
3 This is DuPont : Clean Air and Water in a complex society, 1965 [DuPont Company pamphlet on the problems of air and water pollution. Short articles on the price of pollution, causes, control, the many people involved in the struggle, DuPont's program, DuPont employees in pollution control program, Belle Works, case studies and research.] ; 1 item : pamphlet ; 32 pages.
Box
3 This is Dupont : The Industry of Discovery, 1965 [Pamphlet describing DuPont's research philosophy. Short articles on impact, economic impact, sponsors, history, diverse research, multiple talents, hardware, environment, direction, corporate effort, the public, products and need for future researchers.] ; 1 item : pamphlet ; 36 pages.
Box
3 This is Dupont : Company and Community, 1967 [Dupont Company pamphlet on the responsibility of business in society. Case study on new plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, and short articles on jobs, stabilizing the work force, training and retraining, pollution control, education and industry and charitable contributions.] ; 1 item : pamphlet ; 32 pages.
Box
3 Seaford Fibers Plant: The World's First Producer of Nylon, 1989 May [Pamphlet includes DuPont Company history and the Seaford Nylon plant. Short articles on teamwork, nylon process, community, technology, environmental controls, safety, community spirit, pride in people and facing the future.] ; 1 item : pamphlet ; 20 pages.
II. Photographs, 1938-1988, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Exteriors, 1938, 1939, undated [Construction of plant, exteriors of buildings and aerials of plant.] ; 52 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, some duplicates. 5 photographic prints : color ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller.
Box
2 Exteriors, 1941, undated [Construction of plant, exteriors of buildings and aerials of plant.] ; 3 negatives : b&w ; 2 x 2 in. 4 negatives : color ;3 x 4 in. 2 negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in.
Box Folder
1 2 Employees, 1941, 1942, undated [Various employees of the Seaford Plant. Includes a portrait of Emile Francis du Pont, group shots of executives, female workers, cafeteria workers, a dance, office beach party and company basketball team portraits.] ; 60 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, some duplicates. 4 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 4.5 in. or smaller, mounted on board.
Box
2 Employees, 1941, 1942, 1949, undated [Various employees of the Seaford Plant. Includes female workers, traing groups, firefighting crew, cafeteria workers, "D" shift dance, and office beach party.] ; 90 negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in.
Box Folder
1 3 Nylon Production, 1939, undated [Equipment used in the production of nylon at the Seaford Plant and employees working with equipment.] ; 103 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, some duplicates. 11 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, mounted on board. 1 photographic print ; color ; 8 x 8 in. 3 contact sheets.
Box
DF 12 Nylon Production, undated [Seaford plant equipment.] ; 2 photographic prints : b&w ; 11 x 14 in.
Box
2 Nylon Production, 1939, 1951, 1952, undated [Equipment used in the production of nylon at the Seaford Plant and employees working with equipment. Includes experimental station, beaming machine, spinning piddler, screw melter, cone tube holder and inspection table.] ; 11 negatives : b&w ; 2 x 2 in. 89 negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in.
Box Folder
1 4 Miscellaneous, undated [Nylon rope, parachute and tires. Images of people shopping, in homes, at church, cooking, farming, in school, at doctor, an automobile, an unidentified bridge, construction on house. Print advertisment for Nylon before the plant was opened.] ; 30 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 10 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller.
Box
2 Miscellaneous, 1943, 1949, 1952, undated [Security guard story, images of nylon products; blouse, curtains, playsuit, bathing suit, dresses, golf bag and jacket, child's dress and flag. Also depicts people shopping, in homes, at church, cooking, farming, in school, at doctor, an automobile, an unidentified bridge, construction on house.] ; 228 negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 46 negatives : b&w ; 2 x 2 in.
Box Folder
1 5 40th and 50th Anniversary Celebrations, 1979, 1988 October 18 [Photographs from the 40th and 50th Anniversary Celebrations depict the celebrations that took place in 1979 and 1988 to commemorate the anniversary of the Seaford Plant. Images from the 1979 party include speakers and employees with their families. Images from the 1988 celebration depict a steam train called "The Nylon Express" that governement officials, DuPont employees and retirees rode from Dover to Seaford, Delaware as well as reenactments of the 1938 announcement in Seaford about the DuPont facility.] ; 31 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller, mounted on board, some duplicates. 17 photographic prints : color ; 3.25 x 5 in. mounted on board. 5 photographic prints : color ; 3.25 x 5 in.
III. Film, 1939 November 1-1939 December 12
Film
Can 1 Seaford Plant Start-Up, 1939 November 1-1939 December 12 [Edited with title cards introducing the men who designed and built the plant. Footage of office building, construction, temporary quarters, first smoke from the smokestack, driving in downtown Seaford, Delaware, slow moving shot entering the plant through the front gates. Next section dated December 12, 1939, workers in the factory, nylon being produced. Exterior plant.] ; 1.0 film reel 1 reel (350 ft) : si., b&w ; 16mm. (2 copies). This film has been digitized [ID: FILM_1990266_FC01 ].
Box
3 Seaford Plant Start-Up footage, 1939 November 1-1939 December 12 [Begins with edited version of Seaford Plant Startup. Continues with b-roll footage of Seaford Plant, some of which is not used in edited version. Workers doing various jobs, interacting with one another, exterior of plant and grounds.] ; 1.0 videocassette 1 videocassette (VHS) : 1/2 inch. TRT 00:43:00. This video has been digitized [ID: VID_1990266_B03_ID01 ].