Two history majors receive prestigious conference
When Dr. Jonathan Bloom assigned a project to his
students in his Pennsylvania History class last spring, he had no idea the
outcome would earn a major award.
Bloom, an associate professor
of history and philosophy, offered extra credit to students who would
present their poster at the 2012 Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual
Meeting in Harrisburg.
Senior Jonathan Goos and junior Mark Shifflet presented
their poster exhibit “Tycoons in Tailcoats” at the conference and won the Award
for Outstanding Poster.
According to Bloom, “This is the premiere
conference for Pennsylvanian historians. People come from all over the country
for it because Pennsylvania is a state that has a lot of rich, historical
topics. There was a lot of competition. I was incredibly impressed that they
The poster displayed research the two conducted on
the history of iron forges in 18th and 19th centuries
Pennsylvania, specifically showing the impact they had on development of the Commonwealth
and the impact of the industry on the American Revolution.
According to Goos, “There’s a lot of physical
evidence around in terms of charcoal iron furnace stacks. Not far from here is
the Pine Grove Furnace, the stack at Carlisle. Peter Grubb originally built the
Brickerville Tavern. He was an iron master
and one of the great men who owned an iron dynasty. The Mount Hope estate was actually built by iron
masters and it is an iron master’s mansion still in use today.”
“There’s lots of monographs and books out there on
the iron industry in Pennsylvania and specific furnaces, but there’s only ever
a few chapters dedicated to the American Revolution,” said Shifflet. “So I
thought this was a place where I could do a little research. Lots of iron masters
were prominent politicians and judges. Some iron masters signed the Declaration
of Independence as well as the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776.”
Shifflet said the iron industry in colonial
Pennsylvania was important during the Revolutionary. “One of the most important
things in the war was the colonial iron industry and particularly the
Pennsylvania iron industry. Not only did
they produce cannonballs and cannons but they produced supplies like frying
pans and camp tools for the Continental Army.”
The selection committee said it was very impressed
by the depth of their research, their ability to connect that research to
larger issues in ways that made clear the significance of their work, and by
the quality of their poster's presentation of that research. It commended Goos
and Shifflet on their scholarship and the clarity of their presentation and that
their scholarship has great potential should they decide to continue that
avenue of research.
Shifflet has received a grant to continue to fund his
research on iron forges and their role in the American Revolution for Dr. Allan
Deiterich-Ward’s history seminar.