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 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.