Vogel Prize

Each year the Society for Industrial Archeology recognizes outstanding scholarship in the field of industrial archaeology with the Robert M. Vogel Prize. Named for the founding and distinguished member Robert Vogel, the award honors the author of the best article to appear in the society’s journal IA within the past three years. The prize comprises a cash reward and a wooden foundry pattern with a plaque engraved with the recipient’s name. Articles selected must have a clearly stated thesis and a well-constructed narrative. Analysis of material culture and high-quality illustrations that support the thesis and conclusion are also important measures of scholarship worthy of the prize. Selection is made by the Vogel Prize Committee consisting of five members, appointed by the president of the SIA, who serve five-year terms.

About Robert M. Vogel

Robert M. Vogel laid the foundations for the Society for Industrial Archeology. He was among the original founders of the SIA and sustained the organization in its earliest years. As the first editor of the Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter, from 1971 to 1979, Robert stamped the SIA with his distinctive good humor and unbridled enthusiasm for industrial heritage preservation. In the 1960s, his seminal work on the New England textile mill and Hudson-Mohawk Valley surveys established important benchmarks for field recording and documentation, and led to the establishment of the Historic American Engineering Record. As an authority in the field and longtime curator of civil and mechanical engineering at the Smithsonian Institution, Robert generously shared his knowledge, inspiring countless others to champion, as he did so vigorously, the cause of “IA.” For these reasons and others, the SIA was pleased to name its annual prize for outstanding scholarship in industrial archeology in his honor.

History of the Award (extracted in part from SIAN Vol. 31/3-4 written by David Simmons)

Since its earliest days, the SIA has striven to promote high scholarship. When the idea for a prize emerged in the early 1980s, then SIA President Ted Penn set about beating the bushes to find a sponsor. Eventually, the Norton Co., the abrasives manufacturer based in Worcester, MA, agreed to fund the Norton Prize for the best article published in IA over the previous three years. First awarded in 1982, the prize included a check for $100. Later the prize winners and the titles of their essays were listed on the back cover of IA. In 2001, the Norton Co. discontinued its support of the prize and the SIA Board of Directors decided that rather than seeking a new corporate sponsor, it would be most fitting to rename the award in honor of Robert M. Vogel in recognition of his role as one of the original founders of the SIA and of his many contributions to the society. The renaming has also prompted several members to make unsolicited contributions in support of the monetary prize, which has been raised to $250. What had seemed noteworthy as a monetary prize in 1982, seemed paltry by 1997. At the annual conference in Houghton that year, outgoing Norton Prize chairman, Carter Litchfield, approached next year’s chairman, David Simmons, to discuss the possibility of augmenting the check with a physical award. As it happened later that same fall, the Montgomery County Historical Society of Dayton, OH, announced the sale of a large number of wooden foundry patterns donated to them by a local company, the Platt Foundry. The first of the new physical awards using these foundry patterns were given in 1998.


In 2013 the SIA ran out of the wooden foundry patterns from the Platt Foundry and obtained new foundry patterns for the award from the Cambria Steel Co. in Johnstown, PA. These patterns were made and used in the Cambria pattern shops until the works closed in 1992 and then became part of the collections preserved by the Johnstown Area Historical Association (JAHA).  Originally founded as the Cambria Iron Company in 1852, the firm became the Cambria Steel Co. in 1898 and eventually part of Midvale Steel in 1916 and then Bethlehem Steel in 1923. The iron and steelworks was one of the first in the nation to use the Bessemer process and was at one point the nation’s largest producer of iron rails. JAHA rescued hundreds of these patterns when the pattern shop was threatened with demolition and uses their sale to help fund ongoing heritage work at the Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center, part of the Johnstown Discovery Network.  SIA would like to thank JAHA for partnering with us to provide original historic foundry patterns to continue the tradition of award plaques for the Robert M. Vogel Prize, which honors the author of the best article to appear in the Society’s journal, lA, within the past three years.

Past Winners: click on the links below for more details about the prize winners.

  • 2021: Susanna C. Kuo and Rick Minor, “The Oswego Furnace: Industrial Archaeology at the First Iron Works on the Pacific Coast,” IA 42, no. 1 (2016): 37–54. [JSTOR]
  • 2020: Scott Heberling, “The Archeology of Failure: An Example from the Juniata Iron District of Pennsylvania,” IA 41, nos. 1 & 2 (2015): 25–47.
  • 2019: Steven A. Walton, “Machinery to Match the Materials: Iron Ore Washing in Pennsylvania,” IA 41, nos. 1 & 2 (2015) 71–92.
  • 2018: Fred Quivik, “Nuisance, Source of Wealth, or Potentially Practical Material: Visions of Tailings in Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Mining District, 1888–2001,” IA 39, nos. 1 & 2 (2013): 41–64.
  • 2017: Mark Foster, “New Bedford: Whale Oil Refining Capital,” IA 40, nos. 1 & 2 (2014): 51–70.
  • 2016: Sean Gohman, “It’s Not Time to Be Wasted: Identifying, Evaluating, and Appreciating Mine Wastes in Michigan’s Copper Country,” IA 39, nos. 1 & 2 (2013): 5–22.
  • 2015: Eric Nystrom, “Underground Mine Maps and the Development of the Butte System at the Turn of the Century,” IA 37, nos. 1 & 2 (2011): 97–113.
  • 2014: T. Arron Kotlensky, “From Forest and Mine to Foundry and Cannons: An Archeological Study of the Blast Furnace at the West Point Foundry,” IA 35, nos. 1&2 (2009): 49–72.
  • 2013: Paul J. White, “The Rise and Fall of the California Stamp: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives on the Aging of a Technology” IA 36, no. 1 (2010): 65–83.
  • 2012: Robert W. Passfield, “St. Andrew’s Caméré Curtain Bridge Dam, Lockport, Manitoba,” IA  33, no. 2 (2007): 4–34.
  • 2011: not awarded
  • 2010: Dennis E. Howe, “An Archaeological Survey of the Whiteport Cement Works,” IA 33, no. 1 (2007): 5–26.
  • 2009: Marco Meniketti, “Sugar Mills, Technology, and Environmental Change: A Case Study of Colonial Agro-Industrial Development in the Caribbean,” lA 32, no.1 (2006): 53–80.
  • 2008: Patrick M. Malone, “Surplus Water: Hybrid Power Systems and Industrial Expansion in Lowell”, lA 31, no.1 (2005): 23–40.
  • 2007: Gordon C. Pollard and Haagen D. Klaus, “A Large Business: The Clintonville Site, Resources, and Scale at Adirondack Bloomery Forges,” IA 30, no.1 (2004): 19–46.
  • 2006: Pauline Desjardins, “Navigation and Waterpower: Adaptation and Technology on Canadian Canals”, IA 29, no.1 (2003): 21–48.
  • 2005: Fredric L. Quivik, “Landscapes as Industrial Artifacts: Lessons from Environmental History”, IA 26, no.2 (2000): 55–64.
  • 2004: Philip Lord Jr., “The Covered Locks of Wood Creek” IA 27, no. 1 (2001): 5–15.
  • 2003: Richard Veit, “Moving Beyond the Factory Gates: The Industrial Archeology of New Jersey’s Terra Cotta Industry,” IA 25, no. 2 (1999): 5–28.
  • 2002: David Salay, “… As important and vital to successful mining, as the sap is to the tree: The Dorrance Colliery Fan Complex, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.,” IA 26, no. 1 (2000): 55–70.
  • 2001: John K. Brown, “When Machines Become Gray and Drawings Black and White: William Sellars and the Rationalization of Mechanic Engineering,” IA 25, no. 2 (1999): 29–54.
  • 2000: David A. Simmons, “The Continuous Clatter’: Practical Field Riveting,” IA 23, no. 2 (1997): 4–20.
  • 1999: David B. Landon and Timothy A. Tumburg, “Archeological Perspectives on the Diffusion of Technology: An Example from the Ohio Trap Rock Mine Site,” IA 22, no. 2 (1996): 40–57.
  • 1998: Terry S. Reynolds, “Good Engineering, Poor Management: The Battle Creek Hydroelectric System and the Demise of the Northern California Power Company,” IA 21, no. 2 (1995): 5–24.
  • 1997: Robert B. Gordon, “Material Evidence of Ironmaking Techniques,” IA 21, no. 2 (1995): 69–80.
  • 1996: Mary Rose Boswell, “Documenting Laconia’s Knitting Mills: A Comparison of Belknap Mills Corporation and Two Present-Day Knitting Mills,” IA 20, no. 1/2 (1994): 32–49.
  • 1995: David A. Simmons, “Bridges and Boilers: Americans Discover the Wrought-Iron Tubular Bowstring Bridge,” IA 19, no. 2 (1993): 63–76.
  • 1994: Thomas E. Leary and Patrick M. Malone, “Men and Tongs: The Belgian Rod Mill at the Washburn Wire Company, East Providence, Rhode Island,” IA 18, no. 1/2 (1992): 106–122.
  • 1993: not awarded
  • 1992: Thomas E. Leary, “The Work of Rolling Rails in the 32″ Mill at Bethlehem Steel’s Lackawanna Plant: Industrial Archeology and Labor History,” IA 16, no. 1 (1990): 39–54.
  • 1991: Richard M. Candee, “The 1822 Allendale Mill and Slow-Burning Construction: A Case Study in the Transmission of an Architectural Technology,” IA 15, no. 1 (1989): 21–34.
  • 1990: Laurence F. Gross, “Building on Success: Lowell Mill Construction and Its Results,” IA 15, no. 1 (1989): 21–34.
  • 1989: Patrick M. Malone, “Little Kinks and Devices at Springfield Armory, 1892-1918,” IA 14, no. 1 (1988): 59–76.
  • 1988: David R. Starbuck, “The Shaker Mills in Canterbury, New Hampshire,” IA 12, no. 1 (1986): 11–38.
  • 1987: Robert W. Passfield, “The Role of the Historian in Reconstructing Historic Engineering Structures: Parks Canada’s Experience on the Rideau Canal, 1976-1983,” IA 11, no. 1 (1985): 1–28.
  • 1986: Robert B. Gordon and Michael S. Raber, “An Early American Integrated Steelworks,” IA 10, no. 1 (1984): 17–34.
  • 1985: Terry S. Reynolds, “The Soo Hydro: A Case Study of the Influence of Managerial and Topographical Constraints on Engineering Design,” IA 8, no. 1 (1982): 37–56.
  • 1984: Bruce Seely, “Blast Furnace Technology in the Mid 19th-Century: A Case Study of the Adirondack Iron & Steel Company,” IA 7, no. 1 (1981): 27–54.
  • 1983: C.C. Cooper, R.B. Gordon, and H.V. Merrick, “Archeological Evidence of Metallurgical Innovation at the Eli Whitney Armory,” IA 8, no. 1 (1982): 1–12.
  • 1982: Laurence F. Gross, “The Importance of Research Outside the Library: Watkins Mill, a Case Study,” IA 7, no. 1 (1981): 15–26.