For more than a century, African Americans lived and worked at Hopewell Furnace. Maybe that’s not surprising. But what is remarkable is that it appears they were treated as equals by their white co-workers at a time when slavery was still widely accepted in many parts of the country.
Overall, very little is known about the African Americans whose lives once revolved around the now historic furnace. Frances Delmar, former 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. The book examines how they came to Hopewell, earned their wages, interacted with and were treated by other villagers.