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(1 cubic foot: 3 DB)

by Robert S. Harding, 1982


The E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Company was founded on July 19, 1802 by Eleuthere Irenee DuPont on Brandywine Creek for the purpose of manufacturing gunpowder. In 1804 the first DuPont powder went on public sale. In 1902 a new corporation was formed, by three great-grandsons of the founder, to more effectively compete with the changing technical field and the expanding scale and complexity of business.

During the 20th century the corporation moved into the research and manufacture of thousands of products and processes, and consequently developed and expanded many markets. Synthetic fibers is one of a family of products of the Dupont Corporation. In 1930, Dr. Wallace H. Carothers, working with Dr. J.W. Hill in DuPont's Fundamental Research Laboratory at Wilmington, produced the first synthetic fiber-forming "superpolymer". This was the forerunner of nylon.

In 1938, the development of nylon was announced. It's first use was in brush bristles. Hosiery filaments were developed in 1939, and offered commercially in 1940. In 1941, nylon was applied to the molding industry. From l942 to 1944, nylon production was allocated completely to war uses. The best known outgrowth of the company's research progress, nylon is one of the most important developments in Dupont's long history. It was the result of the chemical industry's first large-scale fundamental research program. And it proved to be the first of a whole family of synthetics for consumer consumption. The product was bought into commercial production at a new plant in Seaford, Delaware.

No other major chemical development had the spontaneous reception accorded to nylon. It not only changed the hosiery market but was soon developed into a multiplicity of textile applications including: tooth brushes, hair brushes, household brushes, tennis racquet strings, catheters, surgical sutures, fishing leader material, musical strings, wire insulation, self-lubricating bearings for machinery, umbrellas, undergarments, shower curtains, parachutes, and rope

Scope & Content

This collection is divided into three series: Nylon Production, 1939-1948, Publications, 1940-1963, and Delrin Acetal Resin, 1957-1962. Included are promotional booklets and pamphlets, 1940-1963 regarding nylon; catalogues on the industrial use of nylon; 25th anniversary book on nylon; World War II Christmas card of the Nylon Division of Dupont; pamphlets describing the wartime uses of nylon; technical reprints, a cartoon and a plant magazine about the Martinsville, Virginia nylon plant, 1941-1946; an employee handbook, Dupont Nylon Division, circa 1940; news clippings and historical material on Chattanooga plant, 1948; news clippings, initial production orders for nylon and typescript on uses and manufacture of nylon at Seaford plant, 1939-1947; publications concerning Delrin Acetal Resins; and photographs of machines for making nylon plastics of the Washington Works, 1947, with a letter from 1977 explaining this material.


Transferred from the Division of Physical Sciences 4/5/83

Container List

Box  Folder
Series 1: NYLON PRODUCTION, 1939-1948


Subseries 1: Seaford, Delaware Plant

1 1 Supplement to THE STAR, Wilmington, Del., re: DuPont's new nylon plant at Seaford, Dec. 10, 1939.
2 Front section of THE STAR, Wilmington, Del., Dec. 10, 1939. "Nylon Production Starts at New Seaford Plant Friday."
3 Typescript, "The Uses and Manufacture of Nylon," undated.
4 Summary Sheet. Nylon Yarn Manufacturing Code No. 1001. Dec. 27, 1939.
5 "Employees Handbook, Nylon Division", for DuPont's Seaford, Del. plant, 1940. (Date is not printed in handbook, it was supplied by the donor.)
6 "Production Order No. 1" for nylon yarn produced at Seaford, Del., Dec. 6, 1939.

Subseries 2: Martinsville, Virginia Plant

7 Cartoon, "Our Boardinghouse," dated 5/23/45 illustrates use of phrase "hotter'n a crate of hijacked nylons."
8 Martinsville DAILY BULLETIN, Nov. 3, 1941. Re: DuPont's new nylon plant in Martinsville, Virginia.
9 Clipping from Martinsville DAILY BULLETIN, June 15, 1946. Photo of 30,000 women lined up to buy nylons in Pittsburgh, Pa.
10 Front section of Martinsville DAILY BULLETIN, Feb. 29, 1944.

Re: DuPont's plans to double size of Martinsville plant.

11 "The Blender," published by and for DuPont employees of Martinsville, Va. plant. Anniversary issue, November 1942.

Subseries 3: Chattanooga, Tennessee Plant

12 Front section of Chattanooga DAILY TIMES, July 14, 1948. Re: opening of DuPont's third nylon plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.
13 Front section of Chattanooga NEWS-FREE PRESS July I3, 1948. Re: opening of DuPont's new nylon plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.
14 Pamphlet, "DuPont in Tennessee l916-1948" Short history of DuPont's two Tennessee plants, in Old Hickory and Chattanooga.
15 Typescript, "Plant Visitation" Nov. 1, 1948 Talk used on tour of DuPont's Chattanooga, Tenn. nylon plant.
16 Typescript, "Outline of History and Organization - DuPont Company - Rayon Department - Nylon Division - Chattanooga Plant" March 22 - April 3O, 1948.

Subseries 4: Nylon in War

17 Memo from Nylon Division of Martinsville, Va. plant, July 20, 1945. Re: souvenir piece of nylon "flak" fabric.
18 Program for ceremony presenting Army-Navy production Award to DuPont's Martinsville, Va. plant, Dec. 3, 1942.
19 Memo to employees of Martinsville, Va. plant re: uses of current nylon production, January 4, 1945.
20 Memo from Nylon Division of Martinsville, Va. plant, April 9, 1945, re: souvenir piece of nylon poncho fabric.
21 Plant War Effort Bulletin No. 96, dated July 18, 1944, Martinsville, Va. Re: souvenir nylon shoe laces.
22 Memo from DuPont's Executive Offices to all employees, Aug. 24, 1945, re: DuPont's connection with development of atomic bomb.
23 Typescript, "Nylon in the War" July 10, 1944. Prepared to accompany display of nylon articles in factory Conference Room.
24 Reprint, re: military uses of nylon, undated, published by War production Drive Committee.
25 Christmas card, printed by Nylon Division of DuPont, front illustration is a cartoon. Dates from World War II.

Subseries 5: Photographs

26 Photographs of nylon plastics machinery and DuPont's Washington Works, ca. 1940. Included is letter from donor, Frank Edlin, dated Feb. 3, 1977, explaining the photos.

Series 2: PUBLICATIONS, 1940-1963

Subseries 1: Dupont Public Relations Department

2 1 "DuPont Nylon Molding Powder" published by DuPont's Polychemicals Dept., 1952. Catalog of industrial uses for nylon molding powder.
2 "DuPont Nylon Molding Powder" published by DuPont's Plastics Dept., 1948. Catalog of industrial uses for nylon molding powder.
3 Booklet, "The Story of Nylon" written by Cooper, Wells & Co. through the cooperation of DuPont., 1941.
4 Booklet "Nylon Textile Fibers in Industry" published by Dupont in 1947.
5 Booklet, "Nylon - The First 25 Years" published by Dupont in 1963.
6 Booklet, "About DuPont Nylon", published by Nylon Division, Rayon Dept. of DuPont, 1946. Two copies.
7 Booklet, "Basic nylon information for the people who tell the public," published by Nylon Division of Dupont undated, probably ca. l945. Two copies.
8 "The DuPont Magazine", l4Oth anniversary issue, Aug.-Sept.-Oct., 1942.
9 Booklet, "Nylon -- Versatile product of Dupont Chemistry," published by DuPont in 1941.
10 Typescript, questions and answers about nylon, dated Jan. 17, 1940.
11 Booklet, "20,000 People Tell Us - Nylon Gives You Something Extra." Published by Nylon Division of DuPont, undated.
3 12 Book, "25 Years of Nylon", published by Textile Fibers
Department of DuPont in 1952. In slipcase.
13 Catalog, "Antron, a new kind of nylon from DuPont," published
by Textile Fibers Department of DuPont, 1963.

Subseries 2: Technical Reprints, News clippings and Magazine Articles About Nylon

2 14 Reprint from INDUSTRIAL and ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY, Jan. 1942. "Development of Nylon" by E.K. Bolton.
15 Clipping, from Greensboro, N.C. newspaper, ca. 1945, article about sale of nylon hose.
16 Reprint from TEXTILE WORLD, Jan. 1940, "Nylon -- a Triumph of Research" by Don Wharton.
17 Typescript, excerpts from NBC News radio broadcast of Dec. 22, 1944 by Robert St. John, re: Wallace Carothers and a story about a WWII paratrooper.
18 Reprint, CHEMICAL & ENGINEERING NEWS, June 25, 1941, "Synthetic Fibers", a CEN Staff Report.
19 Clipping, from unknown magazine, no date. Re: nylon scarcity during World War II.
20 Reprint from INDUSTRIAL # ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY, Dec. 1940, "Nylon as a Textile Fiber" by G.P. Hoff.
3 21 Front section of THE GREENSBORO RECORD, July 8, 1944, article "Nylon Queen Has Time of Young Life."
22 COLLIERS magazine, April 13, 1940. Contains article "Sheer
Magic" about DuPont's Seaford, Del. nylon plant.
23 FORTUNE magazine, July l940. Two articles on nylon: "Nylon and
50,000 Mad Women" and "Nylon -- It challenges silk's last stronghold and brews a textile revolution."

Series 3: "DELRIN" ACETAL RESIN, 1957-1962

4 1 "Acetal Resins" by Russell B. Atkin, Reinhold Publishing Corporation (NY: l962)
2 "Design Digest Bearings of DELRIN acetal resin" Published by the Polychemicals Dept. of DuPont Co., Feb. 1960.
3 "DELRIN acetal resin" published by the Polychemicals Dept. of DuPont Co., June l957

Robert S. Harding, 1982, revised March, 2000


Revised: December 22, 2000