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Joseph X. Labovsky Collection of Nylon Photographs and Ephemera


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Joseph X. Labovsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine on September 10, 1912 and emigrated to the United States in 1923. After graduating from Wilmington High School in 1930, Labovsky joined I.E. Du Pont de Nemours and Company as a laboratory assistant to Wallace Carothers at the Experimental Research Station in Wilmington, Delaware. From 1928 to 1937, Carothers' research group notably spearheaded the development of artificial materials from certain polyamides and polyesters, including synthetic rubber (neoprene) and nylon. With support from Du Pont, Labovsky earned his B.S. in Industrial Chemical Engineering from the Pratt Institute in 1934 and continued to work with Carothers' research group during the early years of Nylon research and production. Labovsky subsequently worked at Du Pont's Nylon plants in Seaford, Delaware and Martinsville, Virginia and later assumed the position of Training and Industrial Relations Supervisor at the Chestnut Run Laboratory in 1954. Labovsky retired from Du Pont in 1975 and devoted much of his time to lecturing on Wallace Carothers and the history of Nylon. Joseph Labovsky died on March 24, 2013 in Wilmington, Delaware.

For a more detailed inventory, please view this record in our online library catalog:

This collection consists of Nylon-related photographs and ephemera saved and collected by Joseph Labovsky during the early stages of Nylon production and research at Du Pont in the 1930s and 1940s. The photographs effectively document the experimental work, semi-works and pilot plant stages that led up to Nylon's commercial production, including the preparation of Nylon polymers and equipment such as spinning machines, salt kettles, and autoclaves. Photographs from the Du Pont Experimental Research Station in Wilmington make up the bulk of the collection, which is rounded out by a smaller subset of photographs from Du Pont's subsequent Nylon plants in Seaford and Martinsville. The collection also includes photographs of Labovsky and other members of the technical staff, but generally lacks photographs of Carothers and largely post-dates his tenure at Du Pont. Two items of ephemera, a scrapbook and presentation on the history of Nylon, complete the collection.

Collected by donor while working at the DuPont Experimental Research Station.

Gift of Joseph X. Labovsky, 1983.

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Processed by Laura Turner in 2004. Object identification numbers were assigned to individual items.

Science History Institute Archives
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Finding aid created by Hillary S. Kativa and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear.
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