Frances Delmar, the National Park Service chief of education and interpretation at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, set out to learn more about them. She pored through historic daybooks, ledgers and other records from what was once one of the most important iron furnaces in America. The information she gathered is now the subject of The African American Experience at Hopewell Furnace, a slim, 24-page book that provides a glimpse into how these men and women lived.
On Feb. 12, Delmar spoke at a book signing attended by about 30 people at the Schuylkill River Heritage Area offices in Pottstown.
"For all the years that Hopewell was in operation, African Americans lived and worked at the furnace," she said. "Surprisingly, it seems institutional racism was absent from 19th century Hopewell Furnace."
|Delmar speaks about her new book|
Delmar shared several anecdotes about interesting African American characters who she discovered in her research, and introduced the relative of Issac Cole, a former African American Hopewell employee.
The book sells for $5.95 and can be purchased from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area by calling 484-945-0200.