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The Impact on Three Wisconsin Towns By: Amy Lund

My textbook spends two, four-page, sections on Urbanization and Industrialization. Urbanization is all about the large cities of the northeast, and industrialization is about railroads (specifically George Pullman) and unions. There is not a lot there to make it real for my students.

With that in mind, this unit looks at three separate towns in northern Wisconsin during the late 18- and early 1900s. They all were formed for different reasons, grew differently, and the impact of industrialization on each of them had very diverse results.

Lund Grist Mill

It is my hope that this unit will help your students understand that urbanization didn’t just happen in New England, and that industrialization was more than just the Transcontinental Railroad and unions.

Activities included in the unit are designed to give students the opportunity to work with a variety of primary source documents – maps, census data, and photographs – that will help bring these two historical themes down from broad generalizations about places they’ve never been, to their impact in specific examples from around home that they can see the effects of. Over the five lessons, students should develop an understanding of urbanization and industrialization and how it has impacted towns just like theirs. From this, they can then extrapolate how their town was affected, how their state was affected, and how these two themes affected the entire nation.

Each lesson on urbanization or industrialization:

Lesson 1: What Makes a Community?
This lesson helps students learn what it means to have a community. Without that basic idea, they will never understand the concept of urbanization.

Lesson 2: Industrialization – A Study in Pictures
This lesson helps students understand the different industries in northern Wisconsin in the late 19th century and how these industries impacted the towns around them.

Lesson 3: Urbanization – How a City Grows
This lesson looks at the growth of cities by examining maps and learning about different outside forces that can impact a city’s development.

Lesson 4: Urbanization – Using the Census
This lesson gives students an introduction to a new way to learn about how a city develops – by looking at who lived there. Students will use the census enumeration pages to learn about the residents of a city, and how studying these documents can help us understand more about that city’s growth.

Lesson 5: Industrialization & Urbanization – How Wisconsin Changed
This final lesson looks at Wisconsin has a whole and changes in population and industries between 1880and 1930. It widens the scope of study to the state, from which students can understand both industrialization and urbanization at a larger level.

Some Background about the Towns

Porter’s Mills / Porterville

Brewery Employees in the mid 1800's

Porter’s Mills was located just south of Eau Claire off HWY 37 before you get to Caryville. A sawmill was built there in 1863, along with one house for the workers. By 1867, the town had a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, boarding house, small store and office, lodging house, ice house, stables, granary and 11 houses for laborers, and there were 52 men employed by the mill. In 1873, the mill employed 120 men, and boasted the most married men of any mill in the area. The Northwestern Logging Company provided housing for single men, and purchased a farm to raise animals and vegetables for the town store. There were named streets and numbered houses, with about 50 houses and 200 residents. Even Eau Claire did not have numbered houses at this time! The town of Porterville was platted in 1883. The town was more or less a company town, with several buildings built by the Northwestern Logging Company. At its most productive, around 1888, the mill produced 45,000,000 feet of lumber per year. The number of mill workers was almost 500, and the town’s population neared 1,200. Porterville had a school, two churches, and several organizations, including a Modern Woodman’s Hall. However, the town was too tied to the industry of logging. The company began moving their offices out of Porter’s Mills in 1891, and dismantled the first mill in 1898. The last mill was dismantled in July 1899 and moved to Stanley. Most residents of Porter’s Mills left with it, the majority moving either to Stanley or Eau Claire. By 1904, nothing remained of what was once a thriving village. Today, you can bike the Chippewa River State Trail to go by where Porter’s Mills once stood. All you will find are trees and the Chippewa River bottoms.

An excellent source of information on Porter’s Mills is:
Rohe, Randall E. Ghosts of the Forest, Vanished Lumber Towns of Wisconsin, Vol. 1. Forest History Association of WI, 2002.

    • This book can be found in the ARC (5th floor), McIntyre Library, UWEC; the library of the Chippewa Valley Museum, and the Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire Public Libraries (these are the only ones that can be checked out). The book dedicates an entire chapter to Porter’s Mills. Using this book, I have created a PowerPoint timeline of the history of Porter’s Mills, which can be found at the Center for History Teaching and Learning’s website.

Altoona / East Eau Claire

Railroad tracks came through what was to become Altoona in 1870, but the town itself would not develop for another 11 years. In 1880, the Eau Claire depot for the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad wanted to add a roundhouse and new terminal, but didn’t have the space for it. Fall Creek was considered, but the officials in Eau Claire were afraid they would lose their status if the roundhouse moved that far away. Two railroad officials walked the tracks from Eau Claire to Fall Creek, and found a flat, straight stretch of tracks that was close enough to a water source to be viable. Construction of the roundhouse began in June 1881 and in October of that year, East Eau Claire was platted. By 1882, there were ten houses, a general store, a hotel, and restaurant. The name of the town was changed to Altoona in October 1882 due to confusion over freight charges with Eau Claire. In December of 1882 Altoona got a post office; the population of the town was 215. By 1885 the population was 500, and most residents were employees of the railroad. The city was incorporated on April 5, 1887. In 1890 the population was 805, and jobs tied to the railroads were still the dominant profession. There were very few other industries to support it alone – no newspaper, no factories, no real “Main Street”, etc. – and the proximity to a much larger city (by 1890 the population of Eau Claire was 17,415) made the development of separate industries unnecessary. Travel between the two communities was aided by the railroad and an electric streetcar that ran several times a day from Altoona to Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Many people who worked in Eau Claire lived in Altoona, and Altoona became more of a bedroom community than an individual city. Many amenities were located in Eau Claire, only a short trip – shopping centers, newspapers, and grocery stores, for example – so there was no need to duplicate them in Altoona. Even without these facilities, Altoona survived as a city (in 2000, the population of Altoona was 6,698), even once the railroads’ importance declined. The trains still run through the city, the tracks and depot are still on Spooner Ave., and the high school mascot is the Rails, but the railroad is not the heart of the city any longer. Altoona was able to survive as a city because of their close ties with another, larger community, and could almost be considered a suburb.

An excellent source of information on Altoona is:
Hagen, Gerald A. A History of Altoona. Altoona: Altoona Printing, Inc. 1987.

    • This book is available in the library at the Chippewa Valley Museum and at the Altoona Public Library (they have three copies available for check-out). Check City of Altoona, but there is not much historical information on it. You may, however, find more recent information and info about the schools there.

Alma / Twelve Mile Bluff

Historical Alma 1883

The first settlers to Twelve Mile Bluff arrived in 1848. They were two Swiss brothers who made their living cutting firewood for the steamboats traveling the Mississippi River. Other settlers soon followed, and they changed the name to Alma in 1855, after part of the bluff fell down. The name was chosen, according to one legend, because it was the name of a river in Russia that was the site of a battle during the Crimean War. Other stories say it was chosen because it was “short and pretty.” Alma became the Buffalo County seat in 1860 and was incorporated as a village in 1861 with around 200 residents. While the residents of Alma had ties to lumbering, they also developed a variety of other businesses, including breweries, hotels, a cigar factory, sawmill, creamery, flour and grist mill, and a railroad depot. In 1867 the Beef Slough Manufacturing, Booming, Log Driving and Transportation Company was organized just north of the town. It employed nearly 600 men, and was a storage pond for the logs floated downstream by other logging companies. Loggers used the logs to form rafts to be sent down the Mississippi to other sawmills. An interesting side story is that of the Beef Slough War. A brief history of this fight can be found on the Wisconsin Historial Society. The slough was dammed off in 1889, but Alma continued to grow. In 1890, the population was 1,428, and peaked at around 1,500 in 1895. The diversity of industries and businesses allowed Alma to remain an independent city long after the logging industry faded. Today, Alma remains the county seat and has a population of 942. According to the city’s website, “Alma is rich in history, scenery, and recreational opportunities. Whether you enjoy shopping, fishing, hunting, or bird watching, you’re sure to find it here. It’s a great place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the ‘big city’.”

An excellent source of information on Alma is:
Anderson-Sannes, Barbara. Alma on the Mississippi 1848-1932. Alma, Wis.: The Society, 1980.

    • This book can be found in the ARC (5th floor) and one the 3rd floor of the McIntyre Library, UWEC (the 3rd floor book may be checked out); the library of the Chippewa Valley Museum, the Eau Claire Public Library (special collections – cannot be checked out), and the Pepin Public Library (can be checked out). In addition the City of Alma has other information about the town.

Teaching Unit 1

Lesson 1: What Makes a Community?

This lesson focuses on the definition of and requirements for a community – what it needs to survive, and what it needs to be successful. Without an understanding of community students will not be able to understand the importance and effects of urbanization and industrialization. Students will also be introduced to primary sources in the form of historical maps, and see the development of two Wisconsin counties.

Time Required: 1 class period (45 minutes)

    • Students will be able to define the following terms: community
    • Students will be able to list the needs of a community
    • Students will be able to use historical maps to understand community development
    • Students will be able to begin to plat a town map
Required Materials:
    • Copy of Porter’s Mills Layout (Town #1), Altoona Layout (Town #2), and Alma Layout (Town #3) (1 per student)
    • “Map of Wisconsin“ handout (1 per student), or overhead
    • “Map of Wisconsin, close-up“ handout (1 per student), or overhead
    • 1 copy each of Map 1 – Map 7
    • Overhead of the “Cities and Towns in Eau Claire and Buffalo Counties“ handout
An old photo of Altoona streets.

1. Write the word “Community” on the board. Have students brainstorm individually what this word means. Discuss their ideas as a class, and share the following definition: Unabridged (v 1.1)

com·mu·ni·ty – noun, plural –ties. 1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.

Synonyms: Community, hamlet, village, town, city are terms for groups of people living in somewhat close association, and usually under common rules. Community is a general term, and town is often loosely applied. A commonly accepted set of connotations envisages hamlet as a small group, village as a somewhat larger one, town still larger, and city as very large. Size is, however, not the true basis of differentiation, but properly sets off only hamlet. Incorporation, or the absence of it, and the type of government determine the classification of the others.

Discussion could ensue on the differences in these synonyms, depending on what type of community the students live in (a village or city, for example).

2. Break students into groups of 2-3 and give each group a copy of either Porter’s Mills Layout, Altoona Layout or Alma Layout, without telling them which town they represent. On the back side of the map, have them make a list of all the people, services, buildings, etc. that are important for a community to survive. Once they have their list, have them draw on the map their ideas for where they would locate some of these things. They can draw streets, homes, businesses, parks, etc. This should be a quick representation of what they would like a city with those specific geographical features.

Examples/ideas: mayor, city clerk, townspeople, fire department, police department, grocery stores, schools, parks and rec., houses, hotels, restaurants, public transportation, factories, doctors, teachers, organizations (Lions Club, Rotary), etc.

3. Have groups share their answers and maps. Collect these – they will be used again later. Lead discussion using the following questions: Can communities survive without everything listed? Which are most important for a community to be successful? How many of the items are available where they live? Do they think they have a prosperous community? What makes their community different from others? Are communities permanent? How do they change? Do they ever “disappear?” What changes have taken place in their community?

4. Explain that this unit will look at three different communities in Wisconsin – how and why they developed and how they changed as a result of industrialization and urbanization.

5. Show on an overhead, online, or hand out copies of “Map of Wisconsin.” (This and all other maps can be found on the Resources for Lesson One page – you have to copy and print them yourself – or a printer-ready version is available here.) Explain that this is a “Sketch of the Public Land Surveys in Wisconsin Territory,” completed in 1845 – three years before Wisconsin becomes a state. What is the first thing they notice about it? (Hopefully, it’s the lack of cities and towns – only Prairie du Chien is listed.)

6. Hand out the “Map of Wisconsin, close-up” map. This handout has a close-up section of the Chippewa Valley from the 1845 map, along with the corresponding area from “A New Map of Wisconsin” from 1856. What has changed? How many towns have developed in nine years? (There are only three towns on the map – Chippewa Falls, Clearwater [Eau Claire] and Wabashaw [Wabasha]. There are, however, several mill sites that students may believe are towns. Many of these are located where towns are today but have different names.)

7. Break class into groups. Give each group one map. On a blank piece of paper, have each group list the cities or towns within both Eau Claire and Buffalo Counties. Each group should estimate what year they think their map is from.

    • Map 1: 1857 (have students list towns in Chippewa and Buffalo Counties – Eau Claire County does not exist yet)
    • Map 2: 1869 Map 3: 1872 Map 4: 1883
    • Map 5: 1890 Map 6: 1893 Map 7: 1895

8. Using the overhead, “Cities and Towns in Eau Claire and Buffalo Counties,” have each group fill in the information from their map. Lead discussion on how these counties have changed. Share with the class the correct years for the maps. Are there names the students recognize?

9. Assignment: Have students write a paragraph on why they think so many little towns sprang up instead of fewer, larger towns. Also, have them list the types of businesses or industries they think would be important to these small towns during this time period (1850-1900).

Class participation

Lesson 2: Industrialization – A Study in Pictures
Lesson 2: Industrialization – A Study in Pictures

This lesson shows how industries affected town development. It introduces students to a variety of industries from the late 19th century. Students will have the opportunity to examine photos from the time and draw conclusions about life in communities based on these industries. They will be introduced to inventions and the development of new natural resources from this time frame, and also learn about the “Company Town” and be able to understand the benefits and drawbacks of it.

Time Required: 1 class period (45 minutes)

  • Students will be able to define the following terms: industrialization, slough, grist mill
  • Students will be able to name several important industries in Northwestern Wisconsin
  • Students will be able to explain how the development of these industries impacted towns
  • Students will be able to describe and explain a “Company Town”
Required Materials:

1. Collect and discuss paragraphs. What are the reasons why they think so many little towns developed? Then, list on the board the types of businesses or industries they listed. What do they think the term, “industrialization” means? At its simplest, “industrialization” is the development of an industry or industries on a large scale. What are some ways we can learn about industries in the past?

2. Pass out one copy of the Photo Analysis worksheet. Explain to students that one way to understand what these industries were like is to examine photographs of the buildings or people involved in them. Then pass out the “Sample Photo 1” or place on the overhead. (This and all other photos can be found on the Resources for Lesson Two Page, or as a printer-ready file.) As a group, complete the analysis sheet.

The title of this photo is “Brailing Pockets – Scalers at Work.” It was taken in 1846. A “Scaler” is a person who determines the number of board feet in logs. The lumbermen are working in the Beef Slough near Alma, WI. A “slough” is an area of soft, muddy ground; a swamp or swamplike region. The Beef Slough was a sluggish branch of the Chippewa River that provided an excellent storage pond for the logs floated downstream by numerous logging companies. Here loggers were employed to arrange the mixed-up logs into orderly rafts to be towed by steamboats to sawmills down the Mississippi.

3. Give each student another “Photo Analysis“ worksheet, along with a new photo of an industry. Have students complete the form individually, then find another student who studied the same photograph. They should compare sheets, making sure they feel they have at least two good questions they want to know about the photo.

4. Give each group the overhead that matches the photo they analyzed. Have the groups present their photos on the overhead and share what they discovered about them when they did the analysis. Allow other groups to ask questions and discuss each photo. After each group, share the following information about the photos:

    • Photo 1: Lumber Yard in Waupun, WI, around 1885
    • Photo 2: Munger’s Mill and Dam, Wisconsin Dells, 1895
    • Photo 3: Loggers with their tools, Camp Montana, 1906
    • Photo 4: Log jam, Peshtigo River, 1907
    • Photo 5: Flour and Grist Mill built on Green Lake Prairie, later moved to Alto, Wisconsin, 1896. Grist mills are where grain is ground into flour. This mill was about 50 feet tall and 24 feet wide.
    • Photo 6: Several men, some of whom may be railroad workers, posed in front of a Minnesota and St. Paul wood-burning engine at a train crossing at Middleton, WI. The town post office and other structures can be seen behind the train. 1873
    • Photo 7: Two men pose at the Barron Coop Creamery next to the churns full of butter, which is ready to be packed into the small barrels nearby. 1900
    • Photo 8: Employees with a wagon loaded with barrels of beer in front of Hausmann’s Capital Brewery at the corner of State and Gorham Streets. In the 1870s, Capital Brewery was the largest of five German owned and run Madison breweries. 1873

5. Lead discussion on industries. What types of inventions were needed for these industries to prosper? What natural resources were utilized?

6. Introduce the idea of “company towns.” These were towns based around one industry, and the business provided many services to its employees. Both Altoona and Porter’s Mills began as company towns. In Altoona, most residents were employees of the railroad, and the railroad built the first housing, hotel and restaurant in town. In Porter’s Mills, the only occupation was working for the lumber company, and the company ran the general store, provided boarding-style housing for its single employees, and helped married employees build their own homes. Lead discussion on benefits and drawbacks of the company town.

Benefits could include: company provides many services not available immediately to other small towns; job security; real sense of community – work and play together; etc.

Drawbacks could include: lack of ownership of homes; if company leaves, then what?; store goods and prices determined by company; etc.

7. Assignment: Read the corresponding section on industrialization in the history textbook. Have each student choose (or assign each student different industries) of the industries (logging, railroads, gristmills, sawmills, or breweries) and write 2-3 paragraphs on how have a town based solely around that industry would impact its development. What would be some benefits to having that industry? What might be some drawbacks?

Completion of assignment
Class participation

Old photo of Altoona Main Street


Lesson 3: Urbanization – How a City Grows
Lesson 3: Urbanization – How a City Grows

This lesson helps students developing mapping skills and helps them understand how towns develop. It introduces Sanborn and Bird’s Eye Maps and city planning skills, and gives them the chance to evaluate how three separate towns grew. It shows the results of urbanization because each of the three towns developed differently, and for different reasons.

Time Required: 1 class period (45 minutes)

    • Students will be able to define the following terms: Sanborn Map, Bird’s Eye Map
    • Students will be able to understand how geography and industry affects how towns develop
    • Students will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of town layouts based on their evaluations
Required Materials:
    • Sanborn Map of Potosi, WI (make as an overhead)
    • Bird’s Eye View of Eau Claire, WI (make as an overhead)
    • Handouts of “Town #1, Town #2, and Town #3“
    • Handouts of “Town Information“ sheets
    • Rulers
    • Copies of Maps of Porter’s Mill, Altoona and Alma (1 per student)

1. Collect and discuss assignment. What benefits and drawbacks did students describe for a town based only on one industry? How can an industry affect how towns develop?

2. Show students the copy of the Sanborn map for Potosi, WI. (This and all other maps can be found on the Resources for Lesson Three Page, or as a printer-ready file.) Explain that these maps were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability in urbanized areas in the United States. The maps include detailed information regarding town and building information in approximately 12,000 U.S. towns and cities from 1867 to 1970. Note that they show street names and the location of buildings, parks and other city information.

3. Show students the Bird’s-Eye View of Eau Claire. (This and all other maps can be found on the Resources for Lesson Three Page, or as a printer-ready file.) Explain that these maps were especially popular in the late 1800s and give a different view than on a Sanborn Map. How is this different from the Sanborn Map? What items are shown in the Bird’s-Eye that are not in the Sanborn? What are some benefits and drawbacks to using one over the other to learn about a town? Why might it be helpful to use a variety of maps when studying a town or area?

Put students back into the same groups they were in for Lesson One, and pass back the maps they drew. Give each group a new copy of the “Town” handout for the same town, (#1, #2, #3) along with the appropriate “Town Information“ sheet. Explain that they will be getting additional information about their “town” and creating new layouts. There is no right or wrong way to design their town, but there are a few things they should keep in mind:

Try and include as many of the needed buildings as they can in the space they have Remember that homes are generally not built right next to industries. They will need to work with the landforms shown on each map – some trees could be removed, but overall, the town should be designed around what is shown

5. Information for the teacher:

    • Town #1 is Porter’s Mills. The big brown box is the sawmill and lumberyard. There is a railroad into the town, but it is just a spur from Eau Claire. The main purpose of the tracks was for use by the company. People did take the train into Eau Claire on the weekends, but it was not used for commuting to jobs there. Porter’s Mills was a dry town – the company prohibited the sale of alcohol.
    • Town #2 is Altoona. The dashed lines represent the railroad tracks. These were built about 11 years before the town developed. Because of its proximity to Eau Claire, many of the typical needs of a town did not need to be provided by Altoona. Initially, most residents worked for the railroad, but eventually the city became a bedroom community, where they lived in Altoona but worked in Eau Claire.
    • Town #3 is Alma. The dashed line represents the railroad tracks, and the brown on the right side of the page represents the bluff. The only flat part of the map is the light green area. The trees are on the side of the bluff. Alma developed a variety of industries because they were the only large town in the area. They had a flour mill, brewery, cigar factory, and sawmill. Alma became the county seat and the center of government for the county. The Beef Slough Manufacturing, Booming, Log Driving and Transportation Company had a camp a few miles north of town that housed 600 men during peak logging periods. These men often traveled to Alma for supplies and entertainment.

6. After students have had time to draw their towns, have all groups with Town 1 get together, all with Town 2 get together, etc. Have them share their maps with each other – what is the same, and what is different? Then, have each group present their maps to the class. After looking at other towns on the same map, what would they change about their own maps? Did having the new information make it easier or more difficult to plan their town? What were some obstacles they felt they needed to address?

Have them go back into the larger groups that did map 1, 2, and 3. Give group 1 a copy of the map of Porter’s Mills and the photo of the sawmill, group 2 the map of Altoona, and group 3 the Bird’s Eye map of Alma and the photo of Alma from 1902. (This and all other maps can be found on the Resources for Lesson Three Page, or as a printer-ready file.) Explain that the maps they drew represent these three towns and the geography each had when their town was developing. How are their maps similar to and different from the actual maps?

7. Assignment: Have each student write a paragraph on the layout of their town. What do they like about it? What do they think could be changed or improved? They should use the copy of the real map and their ideas from their own creations.

Class participation
Completion of assignments

Lesson 4: Urbanization – Using the Census
Lesson 4: Urbanization – Using the Census

This lesson introduces the study of the US census as a way to learn about communities. The enumeration pages from 1790 – 1930 are available online. (Wisconsin pages are available for the years 1840 – 1930.) They can be searched for individual names, or pages of entire townships or cities can be browsed. Some pages are very hard to read, and the handwriting can be confusing for students initially. Teachers may want to preview some of the pages before utilizing them in the lesson. This lesson looks at Altoona in particular. It gives students a good idea of the types of businesses in Altoona over time, and the importance of the railroad to the town. It also shows population growth in the town between 1900 and 1930.

Time Required: 1 class period (45 minutes)

    • Students will be able to define the following terms: urbanization, census, enumeration
    • Students will be able to use census enumeration pages to determine information about a town
    • Students will be able to understand different occupations of town residents
Required Materials:

1. Collect and discuss assignments. Overall, did they think the cities had been designed well? What improvements did they think were needed?

2. Explain that another way we can learn about urbanization is to look at the people who lived in the town. Where can this type of information be found? In the census! What different types of information can be found in the census?

The census includes a variety of information that varies from decade to decade. Some of the standard information it contains are name, age, sex, race, place of birth, place of parents’ birth, naturalization, occupation, education, etc.

3. Pass out the “Research with Census Enumeration Pages“ sheet. Go over the instructions together, then give each student a Census worksheet. Depending on the number of students you have, and their level of ability, you may give students more than one page to search. At the top of each sheet, the number of images for that ward is listed. For example, in 1900, Ward 1 and Ward 2 both have eight images (for a total of 16 sheets). In 1910, though, Ward 1 has nine and Ward 2 has six (15 sheets). This activity may be scaled back to only look at one decade, if necessary, or to only do question 1-3 on the worksheet, and not search for individuals.

For this lesson, we will only be looking at Altoona. However, this worksheet can be adapted to look at any town. If you want to use examples from the three mentioned in this unit, these are the locations of the pertinent pages:

Porter’s Mills:

    • 1870 Eau Claire County, Brunswick (p. 5-7 are Porter’s Mills)
    • 1880 Eau Claire County, Brunswick (p. 2, 5-8 are Porter’s Mills) [these pages are extremely difficult to read]
    • 1900 Eau Claire County, Brunswick (p. 1-2 are Porter’s Mills)


    • 1870 Buffalo County, Alma (p. 1-13 is Village of Alma)
    • 1880 Buffalo County, Alura (p. 1-26 is Village of Alma)
    • 1900 Buffalo County, 1 Wd Alma, 2 Wd Alma, 3Wd Alma
    • 1910 Buffalo County, 1 Wd Alma, 2 Wd Alma, 3Wd Alma
    • 1920 Buffalo County, Cochrane (p. 1-10 is 1 Wd Alma, 11-14 is 2 Wd Alma, 15-22 is 3Wd Alma)
    • 1930 Buffalo County, Alma (p. 1-22 is Alma City)


    • 1900 Eau Claire County, 1 Wd Altoona, 2 Wd Altoona
    • 1910 Eau Claire County, Town of Washington, p. 7-24
    • 1920 Eau Claire County, 1 Wd Altoona, 2 Wd Altoona
    • 1930 Eau Claire County, 1 Wd Altoona, 2 Wd Altoona

4. Once students have completed their worksheets, complete the overhead “Altoona Census Research“ together as a class. How has the population of Altoona changed over time? What percentage of the population is employed by the railroad? How does this change over time? What can this tell us about the city of Altoona? How do the other occupations change?

5. Assignment: Have students write a paragraph explaining how looking at the census enumeration pages can help them learn about a community, family, industry, or time period. Have them brainstorm and list other places they could look to find similar types of information.

Class participation
Completion of worksheet

Lesson 5: Industrialization & Urbanization – How WI Changed
Lesson 5: Industrialization & Urbanization – How Wisconsin Changed

This lesson is the summary of the unit, and looks at industrialization and urbanization over time using a variety of census data found in the Wisconsin Blue Books. The Blue Books are one-volume reference books about the state, and include a section on history, state government, and statistics. Students are broken into 4 groups for this lesson – two groups look at urbanization and changes in population over time, and two groups look at industrialization and changes over time. Several different skills are used in this lesson, including some math, graphing, and organization of data. Groups will also be expected to present their findings to the class.

Time Required: 1 class period (45 minutes)

    • Students will be able to define the following term: aggregate
    • Students will be able to determine percentage increase or decrease in population and show that data on a map
    • Students will be able to compare and contrast changes in industry and farming and explain how these changes affect urbanization
    • Students will be able to chart changes in industry over time
    • Students will be able to present information to the class in a concise manner
Required Materials:
    • Current copy of Wisconsin Blue Book (usually located in school library)
    • Calculators
    • “County Map of Wisconsin“
    • Colored Pencils
    • Graph Paper
    • The Three Communities PowerPoint

1. Collect and discuss assignment. Why did students think using the enumeration pages can be helpful? What other places did they come up with to look for more information?

2. Explain that today we will be looking at aggregate, or combined, census data. There are several places to find aggregate data, including the US Census Bureau. But since we are looking at Wisconsin in particular, the easiest place to find this data is in the Wisconsin Blue Books. Show current copy of Blue Book

3. Break the class into 4 groups. Each group needs a calculator, and six different colored pencils. Groups 1 and 3 also need a “County Map of Wisconsin.”

4. Explain to the class that two groups will be looking at census data for the state to see the results of urbanization, and that the other two groups will be looking at manufacturing in Wisconsin to see the results of industrialization. Each group will have time in class to complete the assignment, and then will share their results with the rest of the class.

5. Information for the teacher:

  • Group 1 – This group will be comparing Wisconsin’s county population changes between 1900 & 1920 and using that data to color a map
Full List of Resources

Lesson 1: What Makes a Community?

Lesson 2: Industrialization – A Study in Pictures

Lesson 3: Urbanization – How a City Grows

Lesson 4: Urbanization – Using the Census

Lesson 5: Industrialization & Urbanization – How Wisconsin Changed

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