A Tour of Hagley Library

On Saturday, October 11, I had the pleasure of visiting Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware for a tour of the library collections. Hagley Museum is the original site of the DuPont Company, which started as a gunpowder manufacturing business in 1802. The Museum includes the DuPont Company powder mills, as well as the DuPont homestead of Eleutherian Mills. The Hagley Library is a repository of records related to the history of business and technology in America; the library houses the DuPont Company records, in addition to the archives of many other major businesses.

Since October is American Archives Month, Hagley Library organized an open house to educate the public about the library’s collections. Several of the library’s archivists were present and available to answer questions. They displayed photographs and textual records from their areas of the collections. One of the archivists chose to display photographs of Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014), the inventor of Kevlar who worked for the DuPont Company. It was fascinating to see examples of what the library holds in its collections.

In addition to placing objects on display, the librarians and archivists offered tours of the library stacks and conservation lab. The book conservator described the process of repairing and caring for paper resources. One of the librarians also explained the fire prevention methods in place at the library. I found it interesting to learn about the process of conservation for archival collections.

I also liked learning about the library acquisitions process. Hagley Library started out by housing the records of the DuPont Company and other local industry leaders, but has since expanded to include records relating to numerous facets of business and consumer culture in America. I utilized Hagley’s Strawbridge and Clothier Collection for my undergraduate thesis on women’s work in Philadelphia department stores, and I hope to explore other collections of the library in the future.

For those interested in library and archives, I recommend checking out the “Archives Philly Month” website. There are many events celebrating archives in the Philadelphia area throughout October. http://archivesmonthphilly.com/

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