, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 725-750
Date: 01 Oct 2011

Worker Housing in the Vermont Copper Belt: Improving Life and Industry Through Paternalism and Resistance

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Abstract

During the mid-nineteenth century, east-central Vermont supported two major copper mines and their associated villages. In order to wrest thousands of tons of copper from the earth these mines, the Elizabeth and Ely mines, hired and housed thousands of miners, laborers, and their families. Both mines pursued the same resource in the same environment during the same period, but the Ely Mine developed a centralized village, while the Elizabeth Mine housed its workers in isolated housing clusters. The causes of these differences in worker housing can be traced to differences in scale, setting, and managerial philosophy, and can be analyzed within the larger historical context of Improvement and the larger ethnographic context of paternalism in mining communities.