‘Furnace City’ topic of Dec. 5 lecturePublished 6:37pm Monday, December 3, 2012
In conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “The Way We Worked,” Southwestern Michigan College hosts a free lecture on “Dowagiac: The Furnace City” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the theater of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.
The lecture will be presented by Steve Arseneau, director of the Dowagiac Area History Museum. Arseneau’s presentation will examine the dominant role that the furnace industry played in the history of Dowagiac from 1870 to 1960.
During that time, Dowagiac became known as the Furnace City of America as it was home to four furnace companies: Round Oak, Rudy, Premier and Dowagiac Steel Furnace. The presentation will focus on the vast photographic collection documenting the work performed at the foundries and the impact the industry had on the city.
“The Way We Worked” traveling exhibit is adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives and explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibit draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story, as well as items from the Dowagiac Area History Museum’s local history collection.
The last lecture in the series will be Dec. 12 titled “More Than a Promise,” a video and presentation about labor at the Studebaker auto factory by Andy Beckman, archivist at the National Studebaker Museum.
Dowagiac is the second stop for the Smithsonian exhibit in the state as the Michigan Humanities Council takes it to six towns. The exhibit will run through Dec.14 in room 141 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.