Date of Award

May 2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Jennifer Haas

Committee Members

Dawn Scher Thomae, Ashley Lemke


Legacy collections, Midwest, Old Copper Complex, Sheboygan, Typology, Wisconsin


The Old Copper Complex of the Middle and Late Archaic periods in Wisconsin is poorlyunderstood by archaeologists. The Milwaukee Public Museum and the Sheboygan County Historical Society and Museum contain some of the largest collections of copper artifacts found in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin dating to the Old Copper Complex. This thesis applied a modified version of a copper artifact recording schema to objects at each museum, providing robust descriptions of legacy collections, and allowing for cross-collection comparisons. Objects at the Milwaukee Public Museum are also assigned potential provenience through a detailed study of known archaeological site records within the Wisconsin Historical Preservation Database. Such work incrementally advances our understanding of the Old Copper Complex and provides a possible framework for locally analyzing Old Copper Complex collections. This thesis project shows that in Sheboygan County, copper perforators were found to co-occur only with other object types, that copper was used for primarily utilitarian purposes, and that fishing activities were engaged in along Lake Michigan while terrestrial game hunting happened inland, particularly near the Sheboygan Marsh.