Clio Logo

Operated by the Ohio Historical Society and Youngstown State University, this museum preserves the history of the steel industry that once dominated the regional economy. The museum traces its origins back to the 1970s when local officials lobbied for the creation of a museum to the region's industrial heritage. The museum opened in 1986 after the state legislature set aside $3 million three years prior. The center's permanent exhibit is titled "By the Sweat of Their Brow: Forging the Steel Valley." As the name suggests, it not only examines the business of steel-making but the workers and the communities they made.


  • The day that Youngstown Sheet and Tube closed down the Campbell works was September 19, 1977. That down is known locally as "Black Monday", the day that 5,000 people lost their jobs.
  • The closing a Youngstown Sheet and Tube was just the beginning. By the mid 1980s many of the Steel mills that once lined the Mahoning river, shining bright through the night, had gone dim.
  • In their hayday, many of the mills in the area engaged in a practice known as "welfare capitalism". It was a union busting technique that tried to provide above and beyond for the needs of the employees.
  • Company sports teams were a result of welfare capitalism. Competition between the teams was important enough that sometimes, mills would recruit certain employees not to work in the mill, but to play ball!
  • Perhaps the most iconic and highly anticipated exhibit in the Museum in the temporary "Youngstown Kitchen" exhibit.

This panoramic shot shows a complete set on loan from the Tyler History Center.

The history of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley region is inextricably linked to the iron and steel industry. In 1803, the Valley’s first blast furnace was built--the same year that Ohio became a state. Mahoning Valley would later become a leading steel producing region. Byt the 1970s, however, the steel industry in the area declined and most of the mills in the area have closed.

An effort to create a museum to preserve and share the history of the iron and steel industry in Youngstown began in the 1980s. The building was designed by renowned architect Michael Graves and the new museum building was officially dedicated in 1992. This museum houses permanent exhibits which preserve the history of the iron and steel industry which dominated the Youngstown area’s economic life in the 20th century. The permanent exhibit named “By the Sweat of Their Brow:Forging the Steel Valley", which includes explores labor, immigration and urban history, using videos, artifacts, photographs, and reconstructed scenes."

The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor also offers a variety of educational programs and operates a library and archive that is open to the public. The archive serves as a repository for local government records, manuscripts collections, and records of companies, individuals, and labor organizations related to the iron and steel industries in North East Ohio. The center is part of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers.

"Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor". Road Trippers. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015 from https://roadtrippers.com/us/youngstown-oh/points-of-interest/youngstown-historical-center-of-industry-and-labor (2)" Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor" Consumer Discover Ohio. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015 from http://consumer.discoverohio.com/searchdetails.aspx?detail=68560 "Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor, Youngstown, OH". Diamond Tours. Retrieved from http://www.diamondtours.com/Attraction/Youngstown-Historical-Center-of-Industry-and-Labor