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The Worlds of Ironworkers

The Worlds of Ironworkers

(p.63) 2 The Worlds of Ironworkers
Mastering Iron
Anne Kelly KnowlesChester Harvey
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the social aspects of the iron industry, beginning with the perception of ironworks as extreme places, as portrayed by outside observers and by workers themselves. It then looks at ironmaking communities more broadly. Ironmaking in large industrial towns most nearly matched the hellish images of the industry in literature and art, but there were also iron villages and hamlets, frontier iron towns, and iron plantations. Each type of community developed around particular technologies, scales of production, and social relations. Understanding how these interrelated factors formed distinctive industrial places helps explain why some kinds of ironmaking communities were more likely than others to experience labor conflict. The chapter closes with a consideration of the wide range of incentives and punishment that managers used to discipline labor at American ironworks.

Keywords:   iron industry, ironmaking, labor conflict, labor relations

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