Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Amanda I Seligman

Committee Members

Jasmine Alinder, Christopher Cantwell


Community development, Local history, Lumbering, Wisconsin


Near the midpoint of the nineteenth century, logging enterprises began to emerge across the northern half of Wisconsin at an increasing rate. Though the lumber boom dwindled throughout the first twenty-five years of the twentieth century, hundreds of new communities had been established throughout the northwoods region as a result of the industry’s growth. Traditionally, historians have examined Wisconsin’s logging history from a regional or industry perspective, favoring broader conclusions over detailed microhistories. In order to shift this perspective and enrich the existing body of scholarship by offering a significantly more focused narrative, this thesis examines the growth and development of the lumbering community of Oconto, Wisconsin from 1850 to 1950. This in-depth local history examines how both the lumber industry and the people of Oconto actively shaped the city and adapted to change in order to establish a relatively stable community ultimately capable of surviving the demise of the lumber industry upon which it was largely founded.