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Records of Hercules Incorporated

Identifier: 2012-017

Scope and Content

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

The bulk of the collection covers the period 1913, shortly after the company's formation as a manufacturer of double base gun powders to 1976 when the company had greatly diversified, even expanding into rocketry. The Hercules Mixer the company's major internal organ gives a nice inside look into day to day life at Hercules, while the extensive collection of advertising materials, covering the years 1913 through 1952, documents the company's growth as a major manufacturer of chemical products. There is also a significant body of material detailing the operations of a Hercules Plant at San Diego, CA, instrumental in the production of acetone from giant kelp harvested from the coastal waters, which allowed Hercules to become a major provider of military explosives for the Allies in World War 1. The bulk of the collection is comprised of the serial title the Hercules Mixer and bound volumes of Hercules print advertisements collected by year. There are also important mini collections dealing with a World War 1 project to obtain acetone (for the manufacture of cordite) from giant kelp and the planning and construction of the Hercules Experiment Station.


  • Creation: 1913-1997


Language of Materials

Text in english.

Background Note

Hercules Inc. began as the Hercules Powder Company. A 1912 antitrust settlement led to Hercules Powder Company being splint off from Du Pont with a portion of Du Pont's patents being assigned to it. War World I spurred the growth of Hercules and during the post war period the company explored new uses for its stockpiles of naval stores and nitrocellulose. In 1930 a state of the art Experimental Station opened in Wilmington, DE and new divisions for new product lines were subsequently added. The company experienced another growth spurt during World War II and, in the war's aftermath, became heavily involved in the emerging field of missile and rocket technology. The winding down of these programs during the waning years of the Cold War and the purchase of Betz-Dearborn at a per-share price that industry insiders found excessive led to a decline in the value of Hercules Inc. stock, making it a tempting takeover target, despite ongoing attempts to streamline and modernize its operations. In 2008 Hercules Inc. was acquired by the Ashland Corporation.


25.2 Linear Feet (19 boxes)


This is a fragmentary set of corporate records dealing mainly with the public image of Hercules Inc.


Organized into ten series: I. Publications, II Public Relations III Hercules History, IV. Advertising, V. Governance, VI. Division Files, VII. Treasurer's Office, VIII. Research Papers and Informational Brochure, IX. Oversized Items, X. Hercules Audiovisual Materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Hercules Inc. (Barbara H. Brockett). Method of acquisition--gift;; Date of acquisition--2012..

Digitized Materials

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

Related Archival Materials

See also the The Papers of Herman Skolnik, also at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia PA.

General Note

Images were removed; records were arranged into series by processing archivist.


Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 8/23/2023: 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)