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Sophie du Pont May papers
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Sophie du Pont May papers

Accession 2402

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

Finding aid prepared by Jason Sylvestre, July 2007, 1892-1998, bulk 1960-1995

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-03-26T09:35-0400

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, Sophie du Pont May papers (Accession 2402), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: Sophie du Pont May papers
Dates: 1892-1998, bulk 1960-1995
Accession Number: 2402
Creator: May, Sophie du Pont, 1900-2001
Extent: 4 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Language of Material: English, Spanish
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Sophie du Pont (1900-2001) was the eldest daughter of Irénée and Irene du Pont. She married Ernest Nugent May (1901-1985) in 1925. The collection consists of Sophie du Pont May's family and financial correspondence.

Administrative Information


Gift of Irénée du Pont May

Access Restrictions

Some records less than twenty-five years are closed.


Biographical Note

Sophie du Pont May (Sophie) was born on December 2, 1900 to Irénée du Pont, Sr. (1876-1963), and Irene Sophie du Pont (1877-1961). She was the oldest of nine children. Sophie du Pont May’s father, Irénée du Pont was a chemical engineer and worked for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. for 60 years. He served as company vice president (1914-1919), president (1919-1926) and served on the board of directors until his retirement in 1958. Irénée du Pont also served on the finance committee and board of directors at General Motors from 1921-1924.

Sophie du Pont May attended Vassar College and graduated in 1924. On April 18, 1925 Sophie du Pont married Ernest Nugent May (1901-1985). The May’s had 4 children, Ernest Nugent Jr.(1926- ), Irénée du Pont (1928- ), Thomas Henry (1933- ), and John Eric (1935-2004), and 8 grandchildren. Mrs. May donated considerable sums of money to Vassar College, the Republican Party, Heritage Foundation, National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty, as well as humanitarian and aid groups such as the Red Cross and United Way. She also sponsored students at the Wilmington Friends School in Wilmington, Delaware and provided financial for friends in their old age. Sophie du Pont May died April 29, 2001.


Scope and Content

The collection consists of Sophie du Pont May's family correspondence and financial correspondence as well as correspondence between Irénée du Pont (1876-1963) and his older sister Louisa d'Andelot du Pont Copeland (1868-1926).



Arranged alphabetically by subject.


Access Points

American National Red Cross.
Campaign contributions.
Charitable uses, trusts, and foundations
Christiana Securities Company.
Copeland, Louisa d'A du Pont (Louisa d'Andelot du Pont), 1868-1926
Darden, Colgate W. (Colgate Whitehead), 1930-
Darden, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel du Pont) , 1933-1959
Decedents' estates.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.
Eleutherian Mills Historical Library.
Granogue (Granogue, Del. : Dwelling).
Heritage Foundation (Washington, D.C.).
High Frontier (Organization).
Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, Pa.).
May, Ernest N.(Ernest Nugent), 1900-1985
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ).
United Way of America.
Vassar College.
Xanadu (Varadero, Cuba : Estate).
du Pont, Francis I. (Francis Irénée), 1926-
du Pont, Irénée, 1876-1963
du Pont, Irénée, Jr., 1920-

Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Sophie du Pont May
A. Personal Correspondence
Scope and Content
The personal correspondence documents various aspects of her family life, including notes between Mrs. May her sisters, children, cousins, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren, centering on holiday notes and cards. One of the larger sections of family correspondence is between Mrs. May and her cousin Pierre Samuel du Pont (1935- ) (Pete) during his 1988 presidential campaign. The correspondence includes Pierre du Pont requesting campaign donations updates from the campaign trail, newspaper articles, and a number of speeches.
Other family letters include updates from cousin Richard Cutts Rust (1940- ), who married Mom Luang Visumitra Pramoj, a Thai heiress, and Robert Barnett Flint, Jr. (1940- ), regarding his life as part of the United States Antarctic Research Program.
Mrs. May corresponded with her Vassar classmates and attended the 50th, 55th, and 60th reunions. The Vassar correspondence includes guest lists, programs, itineraries, donations, luncheons, and college updates.
1 Arts
1 Cuban Refugees, 1961-1969, 1989-1998
1 du Pont, Francis I. (1926- ) (cousin), 1988
1 du Pont Pierre S. (1935- ) (cousin), 1985-1997
1 Family letters, 1965-1991
1 Flint, Rob (nephew), 1963-1995
1 Gomez Family, 1969-1998
1 Hagley (Eleutherian Mills Historical Library), 1960-1969
1 Hayward, Pierre, 1971-1972
1 Hokkaido International School, 1978-1989
2 Hulse, Bishop Hiram Richard, 1935
2 Longwood Gardens, 1974-1975
2 May, Ernest (husband), 1937
2 May, Virginia, 1974-1986
2 May Family Meetings, 1971
2 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1985-1995
2 Rust, Dick (nephew), 1965-1985
2 Shoumatoff, 1982, 1992
2 Swift, Bishop Ervine, 1953-1962
2 Trip journals, 1968, 1973, 1975
2 Vassar College, 1958-1991
2 Zaharko, Joe, 1942-1946
B. Financial Correspondence
Scope and Content
The financial series deals with the contentious settlement of her father’s estate. Irénée du Pont had few outstanding debts and left his estate in good shape. To settle his estate he named three executors, his son Irénée du Pont Jr. (1920- ) and sons-in-law Ernest May, and Crawford H. Greenwalt (1902-1993). The three executors struggled to reach unanimous decisions and often went with a majority vote. Ernest May was frequently the dissenting voice and was forced to accept majority decisions during the settlement process. Ernest May’s concerns and disagreements are featured in the collection throughout correspondence with Sophie du Pont May, as well as copies of legal filings and agreements that were made by her husband.
The debate over the merger of DuPont and the Christiania Securities Company was another source of contention between the Mays and other family members and is included in the collection.
Also included trusts established for their nephews Colgate Whitehead Darden, III (1930- ) and Pierre Samuel du Pont Darden (1933-1959). In addition to these trusts, Sophie du Pont May administered her mother’s trust.
In addition, the series describes Mrs. May’s interest in philanthropy. Mrs. May granted a pension to Gomez family and other former employees of the du Pont Cuban estate “Xanadu” who fled to Florida after Fidel Castro took power. The May’s kept in contact with Cuban Bishop Ervine Swift and exchanged correspondence about Swift’s church. The collection includes a handmade booklet titled “The Cuban Mission.” Additional philanthropic efforts include sponsoring students at the Wilmington Friends School and paying for the hospice care of a distant cousin, Dorothy Straub.
The series documents a number of charities and political groups to which Mrs. May donated from 1972 through 1995. Organizations receiving money included the United Way, Red Cross, PBS, the Heritage Foundation, the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL), High Frontier, the Republican Party, Congressman Ron Paul, Presidents Ronald Regan and George Bush, as well as a number of church groups and conservative charities. Oliver North accomplices Carl “Spitz” Channell and Richard R. Miller both wrote to Sophie du Pont May to thank her for donations to NEPL. Miller also included a letter proclaiming his innocence. The Hokkaido International School, provided her with regular updates of the program’s progress.
Sophie du Pont May owned large tracts of farm land in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The collection has a number of folders devoted to the management of Brandenburg and Pierce farms, as well as land at Granogue. The Papers include maps of the land, contracts, insurance, receipts, correspondence, and the sale of timber, livestock, and wheat.
In her later years, Mrs. May resided at the Stonegates Retirement Community in Greenville, Delaware. Financial records pertaining to her condominium at Stonegates are included in the collection.
2 Allan J. Henry Co., 1953-1945
2 AT&T, 1984
2 The Baldwin school
2 Craig, John, 1985-1986
2 Christiana Securities, 1972-1977
3 Donations, 1972-1995
3 Easement, 1980-1989
3 Estate Settlement, 1965
3 Farm Management, 1964-1984
3 Gifts to Heirs, 1963
3 Granogue Affairs, 1963-1987
3 Household Inventory, 1974, 1977
3 Land Affairs, 1963-1964
4 Mill Creek Nurseries, 1960
4 Paintings, 1984-1997
4 Pets, 1985-1992
4 Reid, Scotia, 1963-1972
4 Rehoboth Cottage, 1965
4 Rugs, 1968
4 Straub, A.A., 1970
4 Straub, Dorothy, 1990-1991
4 Stonegates, 1982-1994
4 Trust agreements, 1937-1938, 1984
4 Will, I. Sophie du Pont May, 1983
4 Wilmington Country Club, 1985, 1997
4 Wilmington Friends School, 1987-1992
4 Wilmington Trust Company Safe deposit box inventory, 1986-1987
II. Irénée du Pont
Scope and Content
This series consists of the correspondence of Irénée du Pont (1876-1963) with his older sister Louisa d'Andelot du Pont Copeland (1868-1926) and covers a broad range of topics including Irénée du Pont’s time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, personal health, and family updates from 1982 through 1898.
4 Louisa d'Andelot du Pont Copeland, 1892-1898