Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm dreaming of an IA Christmas....

The Lego company has come out with a series of toys surrounding mining...  Can you say stocking stuffers?  I don't see a Eco-friendly protestor or Green Energy Lobbyist character, however.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ph.D. Hood awarded, Industrial Heritage and Archaeology

Cameron Hartnell received his Ph.D.  hood in today's mid-winter graduation ceremony at Michigan Technological University.  Dr. Hartnell is the second person to earn his Ph.D. in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology, finishing right after Bode Morin.  Drs. Hartnell and Morin began their doctoral studies four years ago as the first cohort to enter the new degree program.

(Left to right: Jackie Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School; Dr. Cameron Hartnell; Dr. Elizabeth Norris, Dr. Patrick Martin.  Photo courtesy of Erik Nordberg, University Archivist, Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collection, J. R. Van Pelt and Opie Library.)

Patrick Martin's hooding of Cameron Hartnell included symbols that went far beyond the normal significance of academic regalia.  Dr. Martin is the chair of the Department of Social Sciences and was Dr. Hartnell's dissertation advisor.  He led a group of students from Michigan Technological University on a study of coal mining on the arctic island of Svalbard, as part of a international team of researchers.  Cameron wrote his dissertation about the Arctic Coal Company's mine at Spitsbergen and one of the primary characters in his research was Scott Turner, the mine engineer and a Michigan Tech alumnus.  

While digging through 60 boxes of Scott Turner's papers and Arctic Coal Company records at the Michigan Technological University archives, Dr. Hartnell found that Turner's descendants had included the engineer's hood from when MTU awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1932.  Cameron asked the university to honor Turner by allowing Dr. Martin use Turner's hood during the graduation ceremony.

The Daily Mining Gazette featured a nice story and photo about Dr. Hartnell.  Michigan Tech all issued a press release about the planned event.

Dr. Hartnell's hooding today was a wonderful event.  Congratulations to him and kudos for including such an elegant and tangible example of the power of heritage!

Friday, December 11, 2009

MTU IA Thesis Defense: Christopher Nelson

Christopher Nelson defended his MS Thesis today.  His study, titled The C. R. Patterson and Sons Company of Greenfield, Ohio: Survival and Adaptation of a Black-Owned Company in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939.

Chris completed a tremendous search for primary and secondary documents and oral histories about the C. R. Patterson company.  In his thesis, he tied those scattered documents together to build a narrative about the company's leaders and the Patterson family.  He did a good job with his presentation and passed his defense.  I'm sure his committee asked him for a list of revisions in the document, but kudos to Chris on a job well done!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Industrial Archeology Image Archive

Michigan Technological University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program maintains the Industrial Archaeology Image Archive.

This archive's heart is the Robert M. Vogel slide collection.  Robert Vogel was the curator of Civil Engineering in the Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering at the Smithsonian Institution.  As a pioneering industrial archaeologist, he defined important benchmarks for field work in Industrial Archaeology and helped to establish the Society for Industrial Archaeology and The Historic American Engineering Record.  His writings are part of the disciplinary cannon.

His slide collection includes thousands of images of different industry types from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and England.  The archive is growing all the time, interested people can already search it by industry type or keyword.  Check it out!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Industrial Archaeology on YouTube!

In case you've never tried, go to and search for Industrial Archaeology.  People have posted lots of videos about industrial history, work, and life.  Some great search terms are "industrial heritage," "industrial archaeology," and "factory tour."

Here are a couple of examples:

George Carter, P.E., provided this tour of the W. A. Young Machine Shop on Water Street in Rices Landing, PA, on the Monongahela River.

 Bob Pfeil of Watervliet Arsenal Museum guides a small group though the antique, belt-driven machinery in the museum. Machines demonstrated include a drill press, stamping machine, shaper, horizontal mill, lathe, planer, and grinder.


Demonstration of Jolly and Jig machines in pottery making - Louis Mulcahy Pottery, Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Industrial Tourism

Tourism and Industrial Heritage has been on my mind often this week.  This morning I found this entry on Steve Sammartino's Start Up Blog.  Modern tourist visits to industrial factories can be pretty big business.  Mr. Sammartino claims that visitors to Boeing's Seattle plant generate $2.7 million in annual revenue for the company.  "Watch the work floor" and "R&D as Exhibit" are two common themes on tours like these.

The Society for Industrial Archaeology takes an annual study tour where a group of scholars, avocational researchers, and other people with interests in industrial history visit historic and modern factories, historic ruins, sites, landscapes, and monuments.

Plant visits like these make an interesting comparison to the trend in museums to open their storage rooms to the public and to move the research laboratory onto the gallery floor, where the research or conservation process becomes part of the exhibit.