Cherokee and Black iron workers of the past: Exploring alternative methodologies to experience 19th-century blacksmithing and ironworks

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University of New Brunswick


“Cherokee and Black Iron Workers of the Past: Exploring Alternative Methodologies to Experience 19th-Century Blacksmithing and Ironworks” is a MA thesis and an argument for validity and wider accepted use of alternative methodologies in research and historical writing. This examination of the history of Cherokee and enslaved and emancipated Afro-descendant ironworkers uncovers knowledge hidden from conventional archival repositories. By telling the stories of 19th-century blacksmithing and ironworks through the history of material culture and the stories of the laborers’ themselves, this thesis exposes some of the forgotten tradespeople behind the building of the United States and offers a deeper understanding of the movement of goods, people, and ideas in the late 19th-century. Using a variety of established and alternative methodologies, my research offers a rare look into one of the most valued materials of the 19th century – iron – and the people who worked intimately with it.