Hagley Museum and Library

The Hagley Museum and Library is a nonprofit educational institution in Wilmington, Delaware.[1] Covering more than 235 acres (0.95 km²) along the banks of the Brandywine Creek, the museum and grounds include the first du Pont family home and garden in the United States, the powder yards, and a 19th-century machine shop. On the hillside below the mansion lies a Renaissance-revival garden, with terraces and statuary, created in the 1920s by Louise Evalina du Pont Crowninshield (1877–1958). The facility sits at the midpoint of the DuPont Historic Corridor.[2]

Hagley Museum and Library
Hagley museum
Hagley Museum and Library is located in Delaware
Hagley Museum and Library
Hagley Museum and Library is located in the United States
Hagley Museum and Library
Nearest cityWilmington, Delaware
Coordinates39°46′50″N 75°34′30″W / 39.78056°N 75.57500°WCoordinates: 39°46′50″N 75°34′30″W / 39.78056°N 75.57500°W
Area235 acres (95 ha)
Builtbeginning 1802
NRHP reference #84000819
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 13, 1966


Opened in 1957, the Hagley Museum features exhibits and demonstrations that show the connections between early industrial technology and early American history, focusing on the histories of the du Pont family, DuPont company, explosives and gunpowder, and innovation (through a large collection of American Patent models). The Museum also explores personal stories of the 19th-century DuPont Company employees, how they lived, and how their lifestyles changed along with new machinery and new production methods.[3]

Hagley's library houses a major research collection of manuscripts, archives, photographs, pamphlets, and books documenting the history of American business and technology. A member of the Independent Research Libraries Association, the library serves scholars from this country and abroad. Holdings include 37,000 linear feet in the Manuscripts and Archives Department, 290,000 printed volumes in the Imprints Department, 2 million visual items in the Pictorial Department, and more than 300,000 digital images and pages in the Digital Archives Department. The library and archival collections owned by Hagley are open to the public for research; a catalog and partial digital archive are available online.[3]

The library includes Hagley's intellectual heart: the Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society, which coordinates Hagley's interactions with the world of scholarship in the fields of American economic, business, and technological history. The center offers a scholar-in-residence program and competitive fellowships, and organizes seminars and historical conferences.


In 1802, French immigrant Eleuthère Irénée du Pont founded black powder mills on the banks of Brandywine Creek. He chose the location for the river's tumble over the Fall Line which provided power, timber and willow trees (used to produce quality charcoal required for superior black powder), the proximity to the Delaware River (on which other ingredients of the powder – sulfur and saltpeter – could be shipped); and the quarries of gneiss which would provide building materials for the mills. The E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's black powder factory became the largest in the world.

In 1921, the mills along the Brandywine closed and parcels of the property were sold. Plans for a museum were established 31 years later, on the occasion of the DuPont Company's 150th anniversary in 1952.

Origin of the name

Hagley historians only know that the name was already in use well before E.I. du Pont expanded downstream from Eleutherian Mills in 1813 by purchasing the land that became the Hagley Yards. An 1813 document refers to the land as Hagley and it had been called Hagley as early as 1797, when its owner, Philadelphia Quaker merchant Rumford Dawes, applied for insurance on buildings that were said to be located in a place called Hagley on the Brandywine. Dawes had acquired the property in 1783. Since the name Hagley did not appear on the documents transferring ownership at that time, it seems likely that Dawes gave this name to the Brandywine location.[2]

It seems likely that Delaware's Hagley was named for an English estate that was well known in the second half of the eighteenth century. It is likely that Dawes chose the name based on an English narrative poem entitled The Seasons by James Thomson. Hagley Hall was the seat of Thomson's patron the Baron Lyttelton, and the poem's description of a sylvan dale is strikingly reminiscent of the Brandywine Valley. The Seasons was popular in Philadelphia at the time that Rumford Dawes acquired and named Hagley. The English Hagley estate is located in the West Midlands countryside about ten miles southwest of Birmingham.[2] Perhaps coincidently, Delaware's Hagley is about 8 miles south of Chadds Ford Township, officially known as Birmingham Township before 1996.

At about the same time, Hagley Plantation on the Waccamaw River in South Carolina got its name when the owners, who were admirers of English culture, chose the name Hagley to remind them of the well-known parkland of that name near London.[1]

The Museum was featured on Mysteries at the Museum television show.[4]


  • November 1952: The Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation, a non-profit, educational corporation received its charter from the State of Delaware.
  • May 1957: Hagley Museum was dedicated with the opening of the Henry Clay Mill building.
  • 1961: The Longwood Library, founded in 1953 by Pierre S. duPont, merged with Hagley Museum and opened at the site of the original DuPont Company's powder works at Hagley.
  • 1962: Eleutherian Mills, the du Pont family's ancestral home, was opened to the public.
  • 1966: Designation of museum property as a National Historic Landmark.
  • 1969: Restoration of the first DuPont company office was completed.
  • 1971: Restoration of the E.I. du Pont Garden began.
  • 1982: Workers' Hill opened. First fireworks show produced for Hagley members in honor of the museum's 25th anniversary. The annual fireworks continues on two weekends in June.
  • 1984: Hagley Museum and Library was designated as the official name of the institution. (Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation continues as the legal corporation name of the organization.)
  • 1996: Hagley's first car show, 100 Years of Cars, held to honor 100 years of America's automotive heritage. The annual car show continues on the third Sunday in September.
  • 1999: The kitchen in Hagley's Eleutherian Mills opens to visitors.
  • 2002: Two new exhibits, "DuPont Science and Discovery" and "DuPont: The Explosives Era," open at Hagley in honor of the DuPont corporation's 200th anniversary.
  • 2007: Accessible entrance to Visitors Center welcomes visitors to the museum's 50th anniversary exhibit, "Hagley at Fifty: Exploding with History."
Hagley Restored Mill 01

Restored Gunpowder Mill

Hagley Mill Race

Mill Race

Hagley Mill Equipment

Restored Mill Equipment

Hagley Unrestored Mill 01

Unrestored Gunpowder Mill


Machinery in Hagley's workshop


Hagley Museum steps

See also


  1. ^ a b "History". www.hagleyestates.com. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "What is Hagley". Hagley Museum. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Hagley Museum and Library: Collections Overview
  4. ^ Mysteries at the Museum episode overview

External links

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Bancroft Mills

Bancroft Mills was an abandoned mill complex along Brandywine Creek in Wilmington, Delaware, United States of America. It has been the site of some of the earliest and most famous mills near Wilmington and was the largest and longest running complex along the Brandywine.

Donald F. Carpenter

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DuPont Historic Corridor

The DuPont Historic Corridor is a section of Delaware Route 141 that traces the history of both the Du Pont family and the DuPont company. The southwest point houses DuPont’s Chestnut Run Plaza and the northeastern end is home to the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Between are a number of sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

The many historic locations in the DuPont Historic Corridor include equal portion of the history of the American chemical industry, the role of the DuPont family - their estates and gardens - and the philanthropy of a distinguished American family.

Du Pont family

The du Pont family (English: or ) is a prominent American family descended from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739–1817). The du Pont family has been one of the richest families in America since the mid-19th century, when it founded its fortune in the gunpowder business. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it expanded its wealth through the chemical industry and the automotive industry, with substantial interests in the DuPont company, General Motors, and various other corporations.

Several former du Pont family estates are open to the public as museums, gardens or parks, such as Winterthur, Nemours, Eleutherian Mills, Longwood Gardens, Gibraltar, Mt. Cuba, and Goodstay. The family's interest in horticulture was planted in America by their immigrant progenitors from France and was also nourished and cultivated in later generations by avid gardeners who married into the family. As early as 1924, the du Ponts were recognized by Charles Sprague Sargent, the famed plantsman and director of Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, as "a family which has made the neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware one of the chief centers of horticulture in the United States."The family's first American estate, Eleutherian Mills, located at Hagley Museum and Library, was preserved and restored by Louise E. du Pont Crowninshield. She also helped to establish the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1949. In recent years, the family has continued to be known for its association with political and business ventures, as well as philanthropic causes.

Two family members were the subjects of well-publicized criminal cases. Heir John Eleuthère du Pont was convicted of murdering wrestling coach Dave Schultz in 1996, and heir Robert H. Richards IV was convicted of raping his 3-year-old daughter in 2009. The family is depicted in the 2014 biographical film Foxcatcher, with Steve Carell playing John Eleuthère du Pont and Vanessa Redgrave playing Jean du Pont, the wife of William du Pont Jr.

As of 2016, the family fortune was estimated to be worth $14.3 billion, spread across more than 3,500 living relatives.

Eleutherian Mills

From 1802 to 1921, Eleutherian Mills was a gunpowder mill site used for the manufacture of explosives by the Du Pont family business, which was founded by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. The name also refers to the house on the hill above the mills, which was the first Du Pont family home in America. In 1952, the site became an outdoor museum, and the Hagley Museum and Library was founded.

Engineering Research Associates

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Fred Bechly

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John J. Raskob

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After Franklin D. Roosevelt became President, Raskob was a prominent opponent of the New Deal through his support of a number of anti-Roosevelt organizations including the American Liberty League. Raskob was also a leader in the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment.

Pamela Cunningham Copeland

Pamela Cunningham Copeland (May 5, 1906 – January 25, 2001) was an American horticulturist and historical preservationist, known for her philanthropy. Her home and gardens became Mt. Cuba Center, a public garden and research center for Appalachian Piedmont flora that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Patent model

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Paul Bechly

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Thomas Lamb (industrial designer)

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Trade literature

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USS Indianapolis (ID-3865)

The first USS Indianapolis was a cargo ship that served in the United States Navy from 1918 to 1919.

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Attached to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, Indianapolis departed Philadelphia on 28 December 1918 to carry cargo to England and the Netherlands. She returned to the United States at Norfolk, Virginia, on 23 February 1919. She departed Norfolk on 31 March 1919, carried cargo to France, and returned to Norfolk on 22 June 1919.

Indianapolis decommissioned on 9 July 1919. She was returned to the United States Shipping Board at Norfolk the same day, once again becoming SS Indianapolis.

1918 Photo the "Indianapolis" can be seen under construction from Pusey and Jones Corporation photograph collection Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807.

William du Pont Jr.

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