Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know
State Historical Society of Iowa

Occupational Portrait of a Blacksmith, between 1850 and 1860

    Download Image Resource

"Occupational Portrait of a Blacksmith," between 1850 and 1860
Courtesy of Library of Congress"Occupational Portrait of a Blacksmith," between 1850 and 1860


A blacksmith is a craftsman who creates things out of iron. They made many things used in everyday life: nails, screws, bolts and other fasteners; horseshoes, sickles, plowshares, axes and other agricultural tools; hammers, candlesticks and other household objects. They also made swords, shields and armour; wheel rims and other metal parts in wagons and carriages; fireplace fittings and implements; spikes, chains and cables used on ships. 

Source-Dependent Questions

  • Look closely at the photo and describe the tools the man is holding. What kind of job might this man have?
  • This man is a blacksmith, a person who forces or creates tools out of iron using fire, hammers, tongs and anvils. How might the blacksmith use the tools he is holding to do his work?
  • In early communities, blacksmiths were considered important parts of their communities because they could repair wagon wheels, sharpen farm equipment as well as shoe horses and oxen. How would life be different in early communities without a blacksmith?

Citation Information 

"Occupational Portrait of a Blacksmith," between 1850 and 1860. Courtesy of Library of Congress