Collections

Hagley Museum and Library collects, preserves, and interprets the unfolding history of American enterprise. Hagley's collections document the interaction between business and the cultural, social, and political dimensions of our society from the late 18th century to the present. Our research collections are organized into four departments:

Collection Departments

Audiovisual Collection and Digital Initiatives

The Hagley Library’s Audiovisual and Digital Initiatives Department collects, preserves, and makes available a growing collection of photographs, prints, motion picture film and video, audio, and electronic records related to the history of business and technology. The collection covers a wide range of topics from heavy industry to neighborhood corner stores and from nineteenth century trade cards to digital images from this century.

The department provides reference for internal and external researchers which includes coordinating reproduction requests and permission to publish administration.

An Overview of the Collection:

  • Industries: railroads, textiles, chemicals, heavy machinery, coal mining, explosives, synthetic fibers, iron/steel, shipbuilding, building construction / architecture, computers/automation, mass communication, aeronautics, and many other topics.
  • Service and consumer economy: industrial design, departments stores, fashion/clothing, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, service stations, convenience stores, etc.
  • Audiovisual content from trade organizations: United States Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Foreign Trade Council among other smaller organizations advocating for the interests of business community.
  • The du Pont family and the community surrounding the original DuPont Company powder yards along the Brandywine

For a more detailed look at the Hagley Audiovisual and Digital Collections search our online Finding Aids Database and Public Access Catalog

The Hagley Digital Archives provides online access to a limited but growing selection of items from the library's collections of images, documents, and publications related to the history of business, technology, and society. Hagley's online archives gives users from all over the world an opportunity to incorporate Hagley materials into their research. It can be accessed on the web at digital.hagley.org

For further information about collections in our Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives contact Kevin Martin, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives, at 302-658-2400 ext 276 or use our Ask Hagley online form.

Manuscripts and Archives Collection

Hagley's Manuscripts and Archives Department has more than 2,500 separate collections. They cover the full spectrum of American business and technology from the mercantile houses of the late 18th century to the multinational corporations of the 21st, including the personal and family papers of the entrepreneurs, inventors, designers, and managers who helped build them.

An Overview of the Collection:

  • DuPont Company business records
  • du Pont family papers
  • Northeastern railroads
  • Iron, steel, coal, and oil production industries (such as Sun Oil)
  • Firms with innovative technological practices
  • Military contractors (such as Sperry Gyroscope)
  • Computer and Communications (such as MCI records and RCA Corporation)
  • Consumer-oriented companies (such as Joseph E. Seagram & Sons and Avon)
  • Department stores
  • Mass Marketing and advertising (such as Ernest Dichter's papers)
  • Product design (such as Raymond Loewy and Thomas Lamb)
  • Interior design (such as William Pahlmann's papers)
  • National Business Associations (such as National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States)
  • Personal papers (such as Pew family members and John J. Raskob)
  • Commercial and industrial structures (such as New York City's Pennsylvania Station)

For information about collections in our Manuscripts and Archives Department, please contact us at 302-658-2400 ext 330 or send us an email at askhagley@hagley.org.

Museum Collection

Hagley’s Museum Collection contains more than 65,000 artifacts. Its beginnings go back to the donation of the DuPont Museum Collection in 1954 which focuses on innovations produced by the company including 19th century improvements in gunpowder and explosives as well as 20th century innovative products such as Pyralin, Cellophane, nylon, Dacron®, Orlon, Kevlar® and more.

The second largest private collection of United States patent models, numbering close to 5,000, reflects 19th century American inventions and innovations. Other collections at Hagley reflect the du Pont family and powder workers who owned, managed and worked at the Hagley site.

Only a small percentage of the collection is on display at any time. If you wish to examine an object listed as not on display, please schedule an appointment at least two weeks in advance in order for staff to pull objects out of storage for the visit.

For questions about the collection, please contact Museum Registrar Keith Minsinger at kminsinger@hagley.org or  (302) 658-2400 est. 309.

For inquiries related to donating objects to the collection, please contact Curator of Collections and Exhibits Debra Hughes at dhughes@hagley.org or (302) 658-2400 ext. 308.

 

Published Collection

The Published Collections Department holds Hagley's printed and published materials, with particular emphasis on publications not typically found in general or college and university libraries.

An Overview of the Collection:

  • Books and periodicals collected by Pierre S. du Pont on the development of business and industry in America
  • Printed material on national and international business history particularly in the regions between the Hudson and the Potomac and west to the Allegheny Mountains
  • The library of French Physiocrat Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, the finest collection on late-eighteenth-century French society and politics in North America
  • Publications from firms, trade associations, and individuals associated with American business
  • Printed materials from government entities that pertain to business practices
  • General business publications
  • Company magazines, such as Better Living from DuPont and Store Chat by Strawbridge & Clothier
  • Corporate reports
  • Trade catalogs, mid-19th century to date
  • Trade journals devoted to single industries
  • ​Pamphlets issued by trade associations
  • Publications by America's principal national business associations
  • General business periodicals
  • Encyclopedias, mechanical dictionaries, engineering textbooks and manuals describing now-obsolete technologies, artifacts, and office practices
  • Legal documents for nationally significant cases involving antitrust, bankruptcies, reorganizations, and patent disputes
  • Guidebooks and catalogs from international expositions

For information about collections in our Published Collections​ Department, please contact us at (302) 658-2400 ext. 227 or askhagley@hagley.org.

Subject Guides

Each of the subject guides below provide an overview of the Hagley Library's collections about a specific topic. Hagley is regularly receiving new research collections and it is always a good idea to speak with our staff about your interests. You can also begin your research online by going to the Search Our Collections page.

American Women's History

Architecture

Business and the State

Consumer Culture

Food

French History

Industrial Design

Seagram Company

World's Fairs