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Joseph X. Labovsky Collection of Nylon Photographs and Ephemera

Identifier: 2004-543-002

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1934-1951
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930s-1940s


Copyright Information

To obtain reproductions and copyright information, contact:

Background Note

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.


180 Photographic Prints (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Nylon-related photographs and ephemera collected by Joseph Labovsky, a lab assistant to Wallace Carothers at Du Pont during the early stages of Nylon production.

Custodial History

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

Acquisition Information

Gift of Joseph X. Labovsky, 1983.

Access Restrictions

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

Digitized Materials

A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available online in our Digital Collections:

Related Materials

See also the Papers of Joseph X. Labovsky, (bulk 1920-1997) at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia, PA.

See also Oral History interview with Joseph X. Labovsky, 1996 July 24, at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia, PA..

Condition Description

Material is in good condition.

Processing Information

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

Joseph X. Labovsky Collection of Nylon Photographs and Ephemera
Finding aid created by Hillary S. Kativa and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 8/28/2023: Digitized Materials note added.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)