This archival site on Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia, in the latter half of the nineteenth century is very much in the beta/inception/conception stages--barely off the ground. Specifically this is intended to explore the ironworks, business and technology of the iron industry, and the interlocking elements of local, state, and regional history.

Tredegar's corporate records housed in the Library of Virginia may comprise the most complete extant collection of any nineteenth century southern business. They are not widely explored. This collection has informed narratives of the antebellum and Civil War eras--in fact, Charles Dew's work, Ironmaker to the Confederacy is iconic--and remains almost the last and almost only, look at this institution; yet, materials on post-Civil War years gather dust. Tredegar remained a linchpin in Richmond's industrial and business development, and its owners, major movers and shakers among Richmond's elite. Their story is intrinsic to theories of southern industrial development and to a narrative of southern identity, of tension between memorializing the Confederacy and building a modern city.

This site will collate varied objects and materials about Tredegar Iron Works from Reconstruction through the end of the nineteenth century, situating the company in southern economic development and within a regional and national narrative of American industry and technological change.

This site will be part of a digital component for my dissertation, and it's challenging what I know and don't know about working with primary sources. There's a dual analytical component here, at least during developmental stages: the narrative itself, of course; then, what kinds of documents among the tens of thousands available materials tell the story? How do extensive financial records, accounting documents fit together across ledgers and daybooks? What documents are useful? How do we read them? What do we need to know about accounting methods of that time period? How do we contextualize their contents? What information, then, illuminates business history, and why is it a valuable historical focal point?


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I'd be glad to talk over processes and developmental stages for this kind of project with others working similarly. Also interested in integrating various tools/capabilities to make this an informative endeavor. Right now, metadata construction is key. Great conversation would be about tools and about creating parameters for metadata. I use Omnnigraffle and Scrivener for writing and organization. Looking ahead to SketchUp, mapping to situate institutions on a city grid and show change over time (with related data). Beta testing Scripto for transcription--but highly doubt this site will really be crowdsourced except for isolated projects. Wondering how financial documents can/will be transcribed. Want to figure out how to create correlations among and across documents and what searching and collating mechanisms are useful and possible across item types.
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