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Cold spring, hot foundry: An archaeological exploration of the West Point Foundry's paternal influence upon the Village of Cold Spring and its residents

Elizabeth M Norris, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores the nineteenth century paternal relationship between industrialists and their predominantly skilled workers in a small northern community. As an archaeological analysis, artifacts such as houses and ceramics demonstrate the economic and consumption patterns observable throughout the United States during its industrialization. Discussion centers around the West Point Foundry, which operated in the Village of Cold Spring from 1818 to 1911 and originally owned half of the village’s property and employed half of its workers. Privately owned, it manufactured a variety of iron products including heavy ordnance for both the country’s Navy and Army. Methodological analysis paired documentary research, landscape and spatial analysis, and a reanalysis of several related archaeological collections from different social and economic classes of workers and owners. The Foundry and village is placed within a broader context of religious tolerance, paternalistic control, community planning and architecture, market accessibility, and worker turnover. It shows that the industrial paternalism of West Point Foundry owners was evident in Cold Spring’s development and generally decreased over the course of the nineteenth century. Among other signs, paternalism was visible in company housing built in half the area and the provision of land for a majority of local churches. Unlike other industrial communities where ceramic patterns can be explained by paternalism, consumption patterns better explain the ceramics archaeologically recovered from several Foundry related households. West Point Foundry worker ceramic assemblages display an abundance of tea wares and predominantly more bowls than plates, suggesting a diet that favored less expensive cuts of meat and investment in limited types of ceramics. An electronically attached Excel file details the original state of assemblages examined (WPFceramicsOriginal.xls ) and a second one details the final analysis of assemblages including vessel lists (WPFceramicsEN.xls). Economic indexes and capital consumption patterns in this industrial community as well as others explored were lower than their urban counterparts. Based on existing research by archaeologists, historians, anthropologists, architects, and urban designers, this research suggests different cultural practices within a single manufacturer industrial community from those in rural or urban contexts.

Subject Area

Archaeology|American history

Recommended Citation

Norris, Elizabeth M, "Cold spring, hot foundry: An archaeological exploration of the West Point Foundry's paternal influence upon the Village of Cold Spring and its residents" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3379999.