The 2008 Saugus Iron Works


by Margaret Briatico, Carol Burdick, Pat Holland, Janet McKeone, Cynthia Noble and Robert Simpson
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What are these used for?

Lesson 1 - Digging Up the Past

by Margaret Briatico
Essential Question
How do you build a nation that fosters unlimited economic
opportunities for newcomers?

Guiding Questions
Why does the Saugus Iron Works Historic Site exist in the 21st century?
Massachusetts History Framework Standard
5.10 On a map of North America, identify the first 13 colonies and describe how regional differences in climate, types of farming, populations, and sources of labor shaped their economies and societies through the 18th century.
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The Saugus Iron Works Forge in 1954 - Courtesy Boston Public Library

Introduction

It is common knowledge that the National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. The Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site tells the story of the first integrated ironworks in North America, 1646-1668. It was in 1943, over 300 years since any original aspects of the iron works had long since disappeared, that the interest of one colonial descendant of the 1630s New England would arouse the interest of the town of Saugus, the state of Massachusetts, The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and the giants of the iron and steel industry to embark together on a journey to uncover this “Shrine to Pioneers of American Industry”.

You will be there! Industrial Archaeologist, 20th Century Historian, 1950s Iron/Steel Worker or 1630’s Colonial Descendant, you will follow the story of the reconstruction of the iron works at Saugus, in a documentary film produced in the 1950s by the American Iron and Steel Institute, The Saugus Iron Works Restoration.

Task

After more than 300 years buried underground, the Saugus Iron Works was uncovered! History in the making, 1950s style.

Study the film The Saugus Iron Works Restoration as the primary source. You will take on the persona of one of the main characters who played an important role in this project. From advocate, to researcher, to excavator, and builder of the working replica of the 17th century iron works at Saugus, you will place yourself into one of these roles, as you seriously examine the values of the time. Was iron valued in the 1950s as it was in 1646? How is the past uncovered? What was the process of preservation in 1950s New England and who valued it? Reconstruction and restoration? What history is preserved when a site is reconstructed? How does reconstruction impact the present?

1. Take on the persona of one of the following:

(This could be an individual, a pair, or a group)

Industrial Archaeologist - One who studies the material culture of the past, with a focus on the remains of industry, including the technology, transport and buildings associated with manufacture or raw material production. Industrial archaeology involves the painstaking analysis of physical remains, with emphasis on industrial processes.

20th Century Historian – One, living in the mid 1900s, who researches, analyzes and explains past events, people and their endeavors, and studies and preserves archival materials and artifacts.

1950s Iron/Steel Worker – One, who, in the 1950s, works in an ironworks, builds steel structures, or makes products of iron or steel while employed in the largest industrial labor union in North America. (The steel industry is often considered to be an indicator of economic progress)

1630s Descendant – One who lives in the 1950s and is the offspring (e.g. a child, a grandchild, a great grandchild, etc.) of someone from 1630s New England

Lesson Process


2.

View the film The Saugus Iron Works Reconstruction as a primary source. Using the Analysis of a Documentary Film Matrix as a guide, focus/comment on each of the characteristics and analyze the film from the perspective of the persona you have selected. Think about this film as a primary source compared to historical documents or artifacts from the past?
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Roland Wells Robbins shooting film October 25, 1951

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Henry Gibson with film equipment May 19, 1953

Photos Courtesy Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

ANALYSIS OF A DOCUMENTARY FILM (worksheet to be created)
  • Point of View
  • Accuracy of Information
  • Education on a Topic
  • Important People and Roles
  • Archival Footage (Is there a difference between the footage of the Saugus Iron Works today and in the 1950s?)
  • Events/Timeline
  • Narration (Why don’t they interview the people in the film?)

Saugus Iron Works Restoration from Robert Simpson on Vimeo.


Courtesy of The Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Saugus MA.

3. Who do you think would be likely to say this?


Read through each of the phrases lifted from the text of the film as they address the points of view/values of the time. Using what you know about that person and taking clues from the film, indicate which of the four persons would likely say each phrase. Why have you responded as you have? Support your choice with evidence from the movie only.

Quotes from The SIW Restoration
20th
Century
Historian

Industrial
Archaeologist

1950's
Iron/Steel
Worker

1630's
Descendent

Evidence & My Comments
“If its ancient beams could talk, what a story it could tell”





“…the iron masters house was such an impressive monument to one of America’s first industries”





“For centuries past, the Iron Works became only a memory…until the proverbial New England conscience was awakened by a descendant of the 1630s”





“Yet, here to the knowing eye, was the slag pile, and beneath the top soil, must be other evidences of the past”





“Only a foot below the surface was found the 500lb hammer…”
“Here was the iron head used to beat out iron for the first American homes, iron to dig with, iron to saw with, iron hatchets, pliers, spikes, weights, cannonballs hammerheads and wedges”





“Sensing the importance of the project the American Iron and Steel Institute agreed to underwrite…MIT professor E.L. Hartley was enlisted to search for facts and figures”





“Tradition and fact are often world’s apart. So, a spectroanalysis was made and both the iron in the pot and the iron found at the iron works…
Tradition was fact!”





“Archaeology is an exacting science. Great care must be taken or the story of the earth has to tell may be forever lost.” (map of layers of earth)





“The wall of the test trench gives a cross section of history” (show map)





“The age of each level is determined by a study of the artifacts which are found, like this shovel, a colonial shoe, a metal spoon, a piece of pottery, Indian relics”(could show pics)





“…. a dramatic tribute to American pioneers of the Iron and Steel Industry”





“The beams were hewn in a time-honored manner, modern craftsmen learned to use the tools of their forefathers.”





“…. worked through all weather…. nothing could keep them from …unlocking secrets of the past”





“Great detective story of unearthing the facts in America’s first industrial enterprise”





“The facts regarding America’s first industrial enterprise were fit together like a jigsaw puzzle one authenticating another”





“From this original works, iron masters and skilled workmen went forth to establish works at Taunton…etc. along the Atlantic coast” (map of US with forges)





“The spirit of Saugus and the skills of Saugus men passed from father to son, from skilled workman to apprentice and helped win the War of Independence.”





“ Not only the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry, the prototype of American heavy industry in general” (numbers 1600s vs “today”)





“A prime example of the industrial pioneering that made America what it is today” (1650 map)





"The Iron Works at Saugus is no monument to a dead past, but a reminder of the great advances the iron and steel industry had made and will continue to make”





NOTE: The PBU version of this activity will contain an interactive film (Flash video) with chapter markers to enable students to advance to each quote.

4.

Move on and complete the four other Voices Rising history lessons.

5.

Return to the quotes from the film. What do you think now? Would you revise any of your responses? Why? Review your supporting detail and add any new facts or insights that you have gained from your work on the other four lessons.

6.

View the film again. Join with a group/or the whole class to share and compare
notes. Defend your choices and support your ideas.

Conclusion

7.

Using the work you completed on the Analysis of a Documentary Film Matrix and Quotes from The Saugus Iron Works Restoration. Write a summarizing essay:
Why does the Saugus Iron Works Historic Site exist in the 21st century?
What about the past is important to the present?

Assessment


RUBRIC
Students will be able to...
Strong (4)
Good (3)
Adequate (2)
Inadequate (1)
weight
1. analyze a documentary film to determine the values and beliefs held by various individuals with different backgrounds and from different time periods in American history.
Students will be able to effectively analyze the documentary film, The Saugus Iron Works Reconstruction, to distinguish the four points of view presented, and demonstrate an exceptional understanding of the circumstances and influences affecting the biases and values of these individuals, matching the person to the quote with near perfect accuracy.
Students will be able to analyze the documentary film to distinguish the four points of view presented and demonstrate a good understanding of the circumstances and influences affecting the biases and values of these individuals, matching the person to the quote with accuracy
Students will have difficulty analyzing the documentary film and difficulty distinguishing the four points of view presented, and demonstrate little understanding of the circumstances and influences affecting the biases and values of these individuals, matching the person to the quote with little accuracy.
Students will be unable to analyze the documentary film or have no understanding of the circumstances and influences affecting the biases and values of these individuals. Matching of persons to quotes is incomplete or demonstrates no accuracy.
40%
2. use historical evidence from various primary sources (film, documents, artifacts, etc) to explain why the Saugus Iron Works Historic Site exists in the 21st century.
Students demonstrate an exceptional understanding of the historic reasons for the existence of the SIW Historic Site in the 21st century and support their premises with accurate, rich details from several sources in a well-crafted essay.
Students demonstrate a good understanding of the historic reasons for the existence of the SIW Historic Site in the 21st century and support their premise with accurate details in a well-crafted essay.
Students demonstrate a basic understanding of why the SIW Historic Site exists in the 21st century with one or two supporting details in an essay.
Students demonstrate very little or no understanding of why the SIW Historic Site exists in the 21st century.
60%

The original Jan 2006, SIW Content Evaluation Rubric.

Resources

The Saugus Iron Works Restoration film.