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Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr. polypropylene plant construction scrapbook and travel memoir
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Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr. polypropylene plant construction scrapbook and travel memoir

Accession 2015.284

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 Laurie Rizzo, 2015.,

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2015-06-02T09:23-0400

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, Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr. polypropylene plant construction scrapbook and travel memoir (Accession 2015.284), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr. polypropylene plant construction scrapbook and travel memoir
Dates: circa 1990, 2005
Accession Number: 2015.284
Creator: Hawk, Ellis Leroy, Jr.
Extent: 2 volumes
Physical Description: 1 scrapbook containing 34 photographic prints : color ; 5 x 7 in. 13 photographic prints : color ; 8.75 x 9.25 in. 1 item, typescript ; 124 pages.
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Abstract: Ellis Leroy "Lee" Hawk, Jr. (1926-2012) was a chemical engineer with Hercules Inc., and later the engineering director at Himont. He was involved in establishing polypropylene plants all over the world during the 1950s through the 1980s. This small collection consists of a scrapbook of photographs showing plant construction and a travel memoir written by Hawk about his career in the chemical industry. The memoir provides context for the scrapbook and an interesting portrait of an American businessman during the early stages of globalization.
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Administrative Information


Provenance

Gift of Alan Hawk in memory of Ellis Leroy Hawk, Jr.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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Biographical Note

Ellis Leroy "Lee" Hawk, Jr. (1926-2012) was a chemical engineer with Hercules Inc., and later the engineering director at Himont. He was involved in establishing polypropylene plants all over the world during the 1950s through the 1980s.

In 1926, Hawk was born to Ellis L. Hawk, Sr. (1898-1973) and Edna (Linke) Hawk (1901-1992) in Seymour, Indiana. Upon his high school graduation he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and served with the 3701st Army Air Force in Amarillo, Texas. He graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1950 and went to work for Hercules Inc.

Hercules Inc. was a manufacturer of chemicals and munitions based in Wilmington, Delaware. The company was established in 1912 by T.W. Bacchus as the Hercules Powder Company. The Hercules Powder Company was one of the companies created from the break up of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours "powder trust" in 1911 as ruled by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In its early years as a separate company, it continued to produce explosives and dynamite.

In 1956, renowned German chemist Karl Ziegler (1898-1973) invented high density polyethylene and polypropylene plastics. Hercules Inc. then began working on the commercialization and expansion of this new technology. Hercules manufacturing plants were built all over the world. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s Hawk traveled overseas to cultivate relationships with counterparts and helped establish these plants. In 1983, in a joint venture with an Italian industrial chemical company Montedison, Hercules formed Himont as part of a divestiture program. Himont became the world's largest manufacturer of polypropylene. Hercules sold its portion of Himont in 1987. Hawk retired in 1990.

Hawk married Sarah Jane (Parent) Hawk (1927-2012) in 1950 and had three children.

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Scope and Content

This small collection consists of a scrapbook of photographs showing plant construction and a travel memoir written by Hawk about his career in the chemical industry.

The scrapbook contains images of the plant site, building exteriors, building interiors, silo, lab, warehouse, maintenance shop, control room, offices, poly house and other structures.

The memoir is titled "My Travels and focuses on his career working with high density polyethylene and polypropylene plastics. He covers his experience with many different countries including Great Britain, Germany, Belgium & the Netherlands, Italy, Scandinavia, Iceland, France and Spain, Eastern Europe, Japan, Taiwan and China, Thailand, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Argentina, Jamaica, and the United States.

The memoir provides context for the scrapbook and an interesting portrait of an American businessman during the early stages of globalization.

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