History graduate student research


Lake Michigan: A Calamitous History of Commercial Fishing, 1870-1925

Taylor Everson Struwe
August 2016
Dr. David Soll, Thesis Advisor

This thesis presents information on the formation of the Great Lakes, the American Indian Fishermen of the Lake Michigan Basin, the fish species, nets, and boats vital to the commercial fishing industry, and the calamitous causes behind the industry's implosion. This study investigates the catalysts behind the decline of the commercial fishing enterprise on Lake Michigan by utilizing primary sources including but not limited to, government reports, catch quotas, state fish commission reports, and manuscripts. The topic was selected because the history of Lake Michigan commercial fishing from 1870-1925 has never been thoroughly researched and put into a single volume for examination. Therefore, knowing how Lake Michigan's commercial ecological status once was will provide a historical guidepost for not only policymakers but also for the public, to help promote prudent managing measures for not only the fish but the entire Great Lakes ecosystem.

 

Kaiser of Eau Claire: A History of Eau Claire's Last Lumber Company, 1905-1939

by Benjamin Niles
July 2015
Dr. Robert Gough

The John H. Kaiser Lumber Company was founded in 1905 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin by John Kaiser, a lumberman and box manufacturer from Muscatine, Iowa. The Kaiser Lumber Company was the final lumber company to operate in Eau Claire, and its closure in 1939 marked the end of the city's lumber industry, which had already been in decline when the company was founded. This thesis includes an examination of the business operations of four lumber companies that operated in the area in the 19th century, the economic changes that occurred from 1870-1905 and how they influenced the lumber industry, and a history of the Kaiser Lumber Company's operation in Eau Claire. The thesis compares and contrasts the Kaiser Lumber Company with its 19th century predecessors and provides context for the Kaiser Lumber Company's role in the history of lumber in Wisconsin.


The Avholdsmann: The Life and Literature of Waldemar Ager, 1869-1941

by Andrew Hanson
May 2015
Dr. Jane Pederson


As a young man, Waldemar Ager was one of countless immigrants who saw opportunity in the logging community of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, during the latter half of the nineteenth century. While many immigrants believed that the lumber industry was their salvation, Ager found his calling by bringing his voice into the temperance movement. With stops in Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ager learned many of his temperance beliefs through life experiences both in Norway and the United States. During his time in Eau Claire, Ager played an important role in the city's temperance movement. By writing creative newspaper articles, short stories, and novels, Ager championed the use of literature in defending the importance of temperance. In addition to his pro-temperance penmanship, Ager also found success by establishing temperance organizations, giving anti-alcohol lectures, and by joining the Prohibition Party. Ager believed in, and fought for a society free from any burdens, including alcohol. While Ager's attempts to preserve Norwegian heritage have earned his works a great deal of respect, his beliefs on alcohol as seen through his literature, remain obscure. Despite receiving some coverage, the works that do mention his beliefs on alcohol are dated and brief. By studying a large number of Ager's writings, this study is charged with the task of shedding more light on Waldemar Ager, his life, and his anti-alcohol literature.


Dominant Design: How the Ferguson System Revolutionized Mechanized Agriculture

by Scott Marshaus
Dec. 2015
Dr. David Soll


This thesis examines the development of the three-point hitch system utilized on farm tractors, invented by Harry Ferguson of Ireland. Harry Ferguson partnered with Henry Ford to mass produce the farm tractor's first dominant design which prominently featured the Ferguson System, also called the three-point hitch. First introduced to farmers in 1939, the three-point hitch was the innovation that allowed farmers to upgrade from animal power to machine power. The Ferguson System revolutionized mechanized agriculture because it allowed farmers to increase productivity far beyond the capabilities of their traditional animal power.


Unworkable Program: Urban Renewal in Kilbourntown-3 and Midtown, Milwaukee

by Matthew J. Honer
May 2015
Dr. David Soll

The 1954 revisions to the Federal Housing Act intended to address the shortcomings apparent in earlier urban renewal attempts. Under the "Workable Program," a series of provisions included in the revision, cities were required to address fundamental factors that created slums and continuously show progress towards the elimination of slums while receiving federal urban renewal funds. Requirements included addressing building codes, creating a comprehensive plan, ensuring meaningful citizen participation, and having relocation resources adequate for displaced residents. Fundamental factors contributing to the creation of slums in American cities not addressed in the Workable Program included racism, segregation, and containment policies. This paper presents evidence that the City of Milwaukee was able to effectively disregard Federal urban renewal regulations that required adequate relocation and necessary citizen participation in urban renewal planning and implementation, in order to continue racist policies of neighborhood segregation and containment. Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development had cut off urban renewal funds numerous times, the city was able to continue their policies by subverting the requirement of citizen participation and complying with HUD only as far as it opened up funding. Two neighborhoods, Midtown and K-3, highlight the efforts of city officials to continue urban renewal efforts without addressing the restricted housing and segregated neighborhoods of the city.

 


From Farmers to Cowboys: Rural American Identity and Community in Manawa, Wisconsin, 1848-1970

by Heidi Heideman
Oct. 2014
Dr. Jane Pederson

Farming and lumber production figuratively and literally shaped the landscape of Waupaca County, Wisconsin between 1848 and 1948. Ethnic identity further shaped these rural Waupaca County neighborhoods amongst others of the same or similar ethnic backgrounds. However, as the 1950s began, changes in technology and cultural identity began changing life in rural Waupaca County. Inventions like the combine lead to the end of community shared work like threshing, and neighborhoods no longer needed to work together to harvest crops or perform other essential duties on the farm. Rural schools began consolidating because of better bus transportation. Ethnic traditions that were community unifiers, such as German-language church services ended in this time period as younger generations discontinued ethnic language use. However, these practices fostered and anchored their communities. Manawa, Wisconsin and the surrounding rural townships of Little Wolf and Union, Wisconsin are a case study for how settlers built a community between 1848 and 1890, their children and grandchildren maintained it between 1890 and 1950, and their descendants redefined it beginning in the 1950s. In 1959, the people of Manawa inadvertently created a community unifying event when their chapter of the Lions Club decided to host a rodeo in the middle of Wisconsin in a community surrounded by farms, not ranches. Yet, rodeo resounded with people in and around Manawa because it appealed to their common rural identity, and became a new community-unifying tradition in Manawa.

 

Many Cultures One Family: Celebrating Cultural Diversity at the Santa Fe Indian School

by Robert A. Bell
March 2014
Dr. James Oberly

The Santa Fe Indian School is best known for the art that its students and faculty produced. Two aspects of the school that have not been researched very closely are 1) the interactions between the students that attended the school, and 2) the role Progressive educators played in that interaction. The Pueblo students attending the school created a family and community within the school across tribal lines through the use of Pueblo cultural values.


Menomonie Builds a Diversified Economy, 1890-1930

by Nicholas Freitag
May 2014
Dr. Robert Gough

This thesis examines the economic growth and diversification of the city of Menomonie during and after the decline of the lumber industry. Beginning in the 1830s with the origins of the lumber industry, the city of Menomonie had been developed by the Knapp, Stout & Company, which grew to be the largest lumber company in the world by the late nineteenth century. As the lumber industry in Wisconsin declined at the beginning of the twentieth century, Menomonie and other lumber communities were forced to expand their economic footprint. Executives of the Knapp, Stout & Company chose to invest in new businesses and industries in the community. The most prominent of the lumber executives was James Huff Stout, who established the Stout Manual Training School, which would evolve into the Stout Institute and later the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

 

"What You Need Not What You Want": Public Assistance Programs in Chippewa County during the New Deal Era

by Timothy P. Hoey
July 2013
Dr. Robert Gough

This thesis examines the impact of public assistance programs in Chippewa County. It examines the role the Social Security Act played in reshaping how public assistance programs were run in Chippewa County. Also it examines how the public assistance programs were made to reenforce the traditional role of the American family as the lawmakers saw it. The public assistance programs were made to preserve the paternalist system of America with the husband and father at the top supporting the family and the wife and mother being the person at home taking care of the family. Public assistance programs have always been a divisive issue, and to further understand how the system was made and how it affected those in the program can give a better understanding of why the system is how it is today. This thesis's main source of information was the case files of the families who applied for assistance and the government reports on how much was spent on the programs.


The Rise and Decline of the Family Farm in Central Southern Wisconsin: 1890-1990

by Bill Gill
June 2013
Dr. Oscar Chamberlain

The family farm in America is often referred to as the backbone of the Nation's identity. The number of active farms in Wisconsin has shrunk from a high in 1934 of 200,000 to the current number of less than 68,000 according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. With the loss of these farms, Wisconsin's rural society loses jobs on the farm and throughout the community. When economics change in any one's life his social status, personal well being, and family stability are all at risk. Aside from sociological effects, the dislocation of families on the farm has brought with it a void of local political activists. This research focuses on the negative social, economic and political impact on rural communities resulting from farm loss. Additionally several causes for the farm decline are explored such as the poor profit to effort ratio of farming, the increased productivity of mechanization, and the influence of government actions that actively or inadvertently favored larger more specialized agricultural pursuit.


Wisconsin Indian Head Country - A Guide to the Past: Real and Mythical

by Errol Geniusz
May 2013
Dr. Gerardo Licon

In the 1930s, businessmen in the Eau Claire area and resort owners in Northwestern Wisconsin, an area decimated by logging, collaborated as a group with the hope of promoting tourism to the area and boost the local economy. This group of men and resort owners created the organization Wisconsin Indian Head Country Inc. and to incorporate the area as "authentic" they created and used an Indian head image. Eighty years later many organizations and businesses around Wisconsin continue to use them on maps and brochures to draw tourists to the area. This image is used over much of the Northwest part of Wisconsin. The Indian head image outlines the northwest part of the state of Wisconsin on many tourist maps. The face of the Indian head is created by the St. Croix River, the forehead is made up of the Minnesota and Wisconsin border and the headdress is the Apostle Islands. The purpose behind this research is to learn about the history, origins, purpose, and use of this iconic image and to discuss the local history of this region, including that of Native people and their role in promoting tourism. Recently, there has been much controversy over the use of Indian images as mascots for schools and professional teams around the country. One image that has been over looked and is ever so prevalent is the Wisconsin Indian head image. This research seeks to answer the following questions: What is the purpose of using this logo? Have Indians been a part of the tourism industry and if so what was their role? Is there some hope in the future for change?

 


Defining Academic Freedom: How Statewide Political Turmoil Shaped the Debate on Academic Freedom at the University of Wisconsin in 1910

by Nathan G. Castillo
May 2013
Dr. John W. W. Mann

This thesis revisits the events of 1910 spring semester at the University of Wisconsin detailed in "Sifting and Winnowing: A chapter in the History of Academic Freedom at the University of Wisconsin," about the famous Sifting and Winnowing plaque. It is a larger study on the process of defining academic freedom in 1910. This thesis contends that the plaque was not the center of debate on academic freedom in 1910 as "Sifting and Winnowing" suggested. Additional material has been included that demonstrates discussions of academic freedom occurred simultaneously to and independently of the plaque. Although the plaque contributed to the process of defining academic freedom, the driving force was statewide political turmoil caused by tensions between Stalwart and Progressive Republicans. The scope of this study includes discussions on academic freedom between the university community, Board of Regents, and journalists during the months before and after the 1910 spring semester. By focusing on the spring semester as a whole, rather than just on the plaque, it becomes evident that discussions over academic freedom occurred during an institutional conflict between the Regents and the university community about political activity within the university. Moreover, a larger statewide political conflict circumscribed these interactions. These elements overshadowed the significance of the plaque at the time. Therefore, this thesis focuses on the 1910 spring semester as a whole, putting the discussions on academic freedom in the context of statewide politic tensions that found their way into the university.