Project Assignment

The major project for this class is the investigation of a particular aspect of historical ecology. This research focuses upon the production of charcoal for the iron industry in the 1800s and the production of that iron. The project is centered upon this topic because it is a highly significant industry within the Lehigh Valley, indeed it is the ancestor of the mighty iron and steel industry that dominated Lehigh Valley during the 19th and 20th centuries. Second, this industry has been almost completely forgotten. Our research, therefore, works to reveal an industrial landscape that is buried within the “natural” lands of the State Game Lands. Third, it has become a topic central to Dr. Carter’s research. This means that he is both knowledgeable (though certainly still learning) and can aid students in their research.

To this end, students will complete a research project that includes the investigation of some aspect of the historical ecology of charcoal and/or iron production along the Blue Mountain (including the properties associated with the East Penn and Lehigh Furnaces).

This project must include:
1. A c. 7-10 well-structured page paper (1 inch margins,  double spaced, 12-pt Times New Roman font). An important note on the number of pages- I do not count pages. I look for good, well researched and well-reasoned papers. The above is an estimate of where I think this paper would fall. If you have an excellent paper that is less than 7 pages, you will not be automatically penalized.
2. Images that are legally used, well referenced and clearly labeled.
3. At least two maps that identify some aspect of the research.
4. Well researched and documented with in-text citations and a full works cited at the end of the paper (using Chicago Author-Date style).

Although it will vary between topics, the paper should address these questions:

  • How is your aspect related to the production of charcoal and/or iron?
  • How is your aspect related to the use of the environment?
  • What are some of the local and broader impacts of your aspect?
  • How are people related to your aspect?

Just to “prime the pump,” these are  some possible “aspects” of the production of charcoal and/or iron that students might consider researching.

  • The mining of iron ore on the land
  • The movement of iron ore
  • The impacts of charcoal pits on the local forest or on soil
  • The pollution associated with the furnace
  • The sustainability (or not) of charcoal production

Your paper should include the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Description of the problem or question you hope to address.
  • Background – history and basic processes (e.g., how to make charcoal/ iron)
  • Your research on the problem/ question.
  • Conclusion
    • Include possible questions for future research.