Definition: Enterprises involved in the mining of iron ore, its smelting and processing, its conversion to steel, and its distribution to other industries
Significance: Immigrants to the United States were in many ways responsible for the rise and success of the nation’s large iron and steel industry. Most important, their labor made it possible for the significant growth and prosperity of steel manufacturing in America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The growth of the iron and steel industries in the United States has seen a corresponding rise in the employment of European immigrants in the manufacturing of these products. Before 1880, workers in iron and steel facilities of the United States had derived primarily from northern and western Europe, particularly fromGreat Britain. These mostly English, Welsh, and Scottish ironworkers, engineers, and other metalworkers arrived in the United States during the early to mid-nineteenth century. These skilled migrants, after having weighed their opportunities, chose to emigrate fromthe British Isles to take advantage of rising opportunities in America, which included the option of owning farmland. Not only did they sustain the development of the American iron industry, they also accelerated the implementation of new technological aspects in its production. Many of these immigrants worked and settled among the diverse iron industries located in Pennsylvania, the largest iron-producing state through much of the nineteenth century.
James C. Koshan
See also: Alabama; Coal industry; Czech and Slovakian immigrants; Economic consequences of immigration; Economic opportunities; Employment; Goldman, Emma; Industrial Revolution; Industrial Workers of the World; Labor unions; Ohio; Pennsylvania.