- Historic Sites
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A house built in the 1820s by an armory worker (and later rented to others) tells much about how the armory workshops operated before divison of labor and mechanization were common. In the early years of the armory, workers were paid by the piece. As craftsmen, they came and went at their convenience. Drinking and gambling on the armory grounds were common. Workers may have brought work home to have family members help meet a monthly quota, to train their sons in arms making, or to do work on the side.
After 1841, when the military took control of armory operations and a wage labor system was installed, this practice seems to have stopped.
Gun parts and tools dating from the 1820s and 1830s may provide evidence of piecework performed at home. This button was uncovered during 1990 archaeological excavations at the armory worker's house still located on Shenandoah Street. It turned up along with table scraps, broken china, thimbles, and other household goods.
Location:West Virginia,Harpers Ferry,25425