Workers of the soot – the men and women who toiled in the heat and soot of the local foundries to provide a better life for their families, is an essential, if not a well-known, building block of Vermont history. The book The Entrepreneurs and Workers of the Soot: A History of the Foundry in Springfield, Vermont chronicles the development of the foundry industry in colonial America that eventually formed the nucleus of a thriving agricultural and machine tool industry in Springfield, Vermont during the 19th and 20th centuries. The book features previously untold stories of local workers and their families that worked in the local foundry business.
This work includes broad content for the development of Springfield’s local industry including regional and national progress in agriculture, a spreading demand for more efficient machinery, and the influx of workers from several foreign countries. Vermont may have been very rustic through much of the 19th century, but it was not far removed from regional and national fuming issues. As Springfield’s manufacturing and machine tool industry developed, so did the community around it.
Workers of the Soot uses the extensive collection of historical documents, photos, maps, genealogies and artifacts housed at the Springfield Art and Historical Society. These holdings were the primary source material used for the publication, and helps highlight the importance of maintaining local historical society collections. Additionally, there are plans for a future exhibit on workers of the soot at the Springfield Art and Historical Society’s Miller Art Center.
The publication focuses on both the literary and historical nature of Springfield by spotlighting the untold story of the early entrepreneurs and the immigrant workers that helped bring Springfield’s foundry industry to national and international recognition. Workers of the Soot has aroused interest locally, in large measure because it includes many old photos, maps, and drawings of the community and surrounding areas. It also gives deserved recognition to not only the motive forces behind Springfield’s industrial development, but also to the hardworking people who performed the labor.