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Photograph of Stephanie Kwolek
CHF Collections, Photograph by Harry Kalish

Oral history interview with Stephanie L. Kwolek (1986)

  • 1986-May-04

Oral history interview with Stephanie L. Kwolek (1986)

  • 1986-May-04

Stephanie Kwolek starts this interview by describing her family background. Her father's early death meant that her mother had to work to support Kwolek and her brother, who later became a chemical engineer. At the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Kwolek shifted her interests from medicine to chemistry. Deciding to enter industry, she accepted a position with the Rayon Department of DuPont at Buffalo. There, she started her career in polymer synthesis and worked with Izard, Wittbecker, and Morgan. When the laboratory moved to Wilmington, Kwolek was associated with the low -temperature polymerization program. In the interview, Kwolek then discusses the nylon rope trick, DuPont promotion policy, and liquid crystalline polymers. She concludes with her reflections on colleagues and DuPont consultants.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 37 pages
  • 1 h 50 m 46 s
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0028

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Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • July 31, 1923
  • New Kensington, Pennsylvania, United States
  • June 17, 2014
  • Talleyville, Delaware, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1946 Carnegie Mellon University BS Chemistry

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

  • 1946 to 1959 Chemist
  • 1959 to 1967 Research Chemist
  • 1967 to 1974 Senior Research Chemist
  • 1974 to 1986 Research Associate
  • 1986 Consultant

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

  • 1986 Research Council, Consultant


Year(s) Award
1959 Publication Award, Delaware Section, American Chemical Society
1976 Howard N. Potts Medal, Franklin Institute of Philadelphia
1978 Award for Contributions to Kevlar (du Pont trademark for aramid fiber), American Society for Medals
1980 Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists
1980 Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society
1981 Honorary Doctor of Science Award, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
1983 Alumni Association Merit Award, Carnegie-Mellon Universit
1985 Engineering/Technology Award, Society of Plastics Engineers
1985 Polymer Processing Hall of Fame, University of Akron
1988 Harold DeWitt Smith Memorial Award, American Society of Testing Materials
1990 du Pont Honoree at the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Patent and Copyright du Pont Honoree at the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Patent and Copyright Laws
1995 Inducted member of Inventor's Hall of Fame
1997 Perkin Medal Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)

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PDF — 559 KB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads