African Ironmaking  Culture Among African American Ironworkers 

in Western Maryland 1760 to 1850




In this thesis Jean Libby investigates technological transfer diffusion of African 

ironmaking culture into western Maryland by enslaved ironworkers.There is a comparison 

with ironmaking societies in West Africa. Similarities in furnace technology and cultural

 practices are examined.


The  enslaved population is described demographically at census intervals. African American 

autobiographies, archeological data,census manuscripts, legal records and advertisements 

are the primary sources of information.Technological diffusion occurred and occupational 

identity increased when workers made iron with methods based on African traditions.

Resistance to enslavement is a vital part of the history of these ironworkers.




Jean Libby

MA Thesis, 1991

San Francisco State University