Teach PA History
Pennsylvania's Iron Furnaces: Forging the Industrialization of the Nation
Further Reading

Bezis-Selfia, John. Forging America: Ironworkers, Adventurers, and the Industrial Revolution. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

Examines the social and labor history of the national industry during the 1700s and early 1800s, with a focus on the importance of slave labor.

Bining, Arthur. Pennsylvania Iron Manufacture in the Eighteenth Century. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, 1973.

Bining's work provides a detailed and thorough account of eighteenth century in industry in Pennsylvania.

Bining, Arthur. "The Rise of Iron Manufacturing in Western Pennsylvania." The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine. 16:4 (1933).

This scholarly article looks at the history of iron manufacturing in Western Pennsylvania.

Eggert, Gerald. The Iron Industry in Pennsylvania.. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, 1994.

This book provides an excellent overview of the history and technology involved in the iron industry in Pennsylvania. It also contains pictures and diagrams of various iron furnaces throughout Pennsylvania.

Gordon, Robert B. American Iron Industry, 1607-1900.. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

This book looks at the technological growth of the iron industry, not only in Pennsylvania, but throughout America from 1607-1900.

Silverman, Sharon Hermes. "A Blast from the Past." Pennsylvania Heritage (Spring 1998).

This great six-page article on Cornwall Iron Furnace covers the number of interesting topics on the site: how it began, who owned it, how it manufactured iron, and how it improved over its years of operation (1742-1843). It is published on-line as well.

Web Sites

Birth of the Iron Industry in Pennsylvania: Colebrookdale Furnace

This webpage prepared by historian Raymond Washlaski provides a summary of Colebrookdale Furnace history as well as some interesting primary source images of artifacts made at the furnace. The stove plate you will recognize from the lesson. In addition, there is a great image of an ironing trivet.

Cornwall Furnace

This website provides information on the National Historic Landmark District of Cornwall, an extremely well preserved 19th century iron furnace complex. Features of the website include a site map, a furnace tour, educational resources, and a calendar of events.

Cornwall Iron Furnace

This six-page, online article about Cornwall Furnace, "A Blast From the Past" by Sharon Hernes Silverman, was originally published in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine (Volume XXIV, Number 2 - Spring 1998). This excellent article sheds light on the experimentation necessary to produce the right quality iron, how the furnace operates, the technological improvements of the furnace over its years of operation (1742-1883), and biographical information on the owners of the furnace. The image of the water wheel and the teamster in the article will be familiar to you from this lesson as well.

EDSITEment-Lesson Plan

This weblink offers a 4-5 day unit entitled, "Was There An Industrial Revolution? New Workplace, New Technology, New Consumers." The lesson concludes with a class debate regarding if the industrial revolution was a "revolution" or not.

Historical Society of Phoenixville Area

An image of Phoenix Iron Works is featured in this lesson. This website offers more information about the history of the iron works and the bridge company. Specific links to both these topics are located on the left side of the historical society's home page.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

The official National Park Service site for a preserved Revolutionary era iron furnace and auxiliary structures, which provided materials to the Continental Army during the war. Includes links, pictures, and a teacher's guide.

How Stuff Works: BBC: The British History Victorians: The Blast Furnace Animation

This website provides a visualization of how a blast furnace actually works. It shows step by step what each part of the furnace does in order to change the iron ore into molten iron. There is also an activity that allows the student to use their knowledge and memories to create their own furnace. It offers a great visual representation of the iron smelting process.

Industrial Revolution

This web resource offers a list of related industrial revolution sites. Some topics include general sites on the industrial revolution, Samuel Slater, the power of water and industrial revolution, great inventors, and the industrial revolution and the railway system.

Inventors of the Industrial Revolution

This site gives a clear, easy-to-read presentation of the various inventions and inventors of the industrial revolution. At the end, a multiple choice quiz is given to test cumulative knowledge.

Teacher Resources-Feature-American Memory Timeline-Industrial America

This weblink is a part of Library of Congress" American Memory. It offers a brief overview of the Industrial era as well as subtopics and associated primary documents. For instance in the subtopic, Work in the Late 19th Century, among the documents there is an interesting interview of a shoeworker discussing his opinions on the effects of machinery in the workplace and on the lives of the workers.

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