Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Patricia Richards

Committee Members

John Richards, Dawn Scher Thomae


Wisconsin's Door Peninsula was home to the largest Belgian immigrant population in the United States during the late 19th century. In 1871, a deadly firestorm engulfed large portions of Northeastern Wisconsin and tore through the land where these Belgian's resided. After the fire a household brickmaking industry emerged, creating the red brick that gives the Door Peninsula its architectural character today. Very few of the brickworks that created the iconic red brick are documented in the archaeological record. Vandermissen Brickworks is a late 19th and early 20th century brickworks that made handmade bricks for local structures following the Great Fire of 1871. Remains of the Vandermissen Brickworks (47DR388) along with two other historic brickworks were recovered during the Wisconsin State Highway 57 construction project. A portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analyzer was used in the attempt to associate standing structures on the Door Peninsula to bricks and brick fragments recovered from Vandermissen Brickworks and two other local brickworks. The goal of this project is to determine if it is possible to use a pXRF analyzer to identify a correlation between bricks from the brickworks and bricks from structures. The data did not demonstrate similarities between excavated bricks and bricks from the structures but it did reveal other relationships. At the Vandermissen site, the bricks from the clamps statistically differed from the rest of the brickworks. Also bricks from each of the structures statistically differed from all of the brickworks. These results serve to delimit the kinds of questions that can be answered through pXRF analysis. The results here demonstrate how pXRF analysis can be used to differentiate samples from an archaeological context and a non-archaeological context as well as differentiating bricks over fired in kilns from other bricks. The analysis of the pXRF results demonstrates how this technology can be used in future research of historic brickworks sites.