This week at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I was assigned something new to do. I was assigned to go through the Luzerne County Historical Society’s Vulcan Iron Works collection. In the collection, I had to locate anything that would be useful for a research request. The specific individual was looking for information pertaining to a gentleman named Theodile Guibar, an inventor from Belgium. Theodile Guibar made many fans and other ventilators that the Vulcan Iron Works used in their locomotives in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The individual was looking for any letters between Theodile Guibar and engineers who worked for Vulcan Iron Works or any other documents mentioning him. Unfortunately, there were no letters between an engineer and Theodile Guibar or documents that mentioned his name. Many of the documents and books in the Luzerne County Historical Society’s collection consisted of sales records, books with records of executive meetings, inspection records, and any information related to the locomotives. Even though I could not assist the individual with any documents that had his name or letters, the archivist/librarian at the Luzerne County Historical Society stated that she would refer him or her to another historical society that has a Vulcan Iron Works collection.
During the few days I researched that collection, I came across some interesting information about the location. The Vulcan Iron Works was founded in 1849 by an individual named Richard Jones. Richard Jones was an engineer whose focus was to build iron machinery for mines. Before he founded the Vulcan Iron Works, Jones was an employee of another company named Riddle, Chambers, & Company. Subsequently, The Riddle, Chambers, & Company went bankrupt because of a depression in the early 1840s. The rising demand of the mining industry in the 1800s made the Vulcan Iron Works a financially successful company. The 1870s primarily was the pinnacle point of the Vulcan Iron Works’ financial success. One way this occurred was by the demand of machinery that made vertical shafts in mines. Thus, Vulcan Iron Works’ hoisting engines, elevator cages, and related items were in great demand.
In all, this assignment reminded me of the Luzerne County Historical Society’s willingness to assist an individual in his or her research project in any way they can. Also, the assignment was another way to utilize previous archival skills I learned from my last internship, which is great. I am excited to find out what new assignments I may acquire next week.