Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Karel Bicha

Second Advisor

Athan Theoharis

Third Advisor

Michael Phayer

Fourth Advisor

Ronald Zupko

Fifth Advisor

John Krugler


Most urban centers in the nineteenth century experienced the transition from the pre-industrial to the industrial stage of urban development. Both city types have been studied by historians and sociologists and identifiable traits can be ascertained to delineate the aspects peculiar to each form of city life. In the case of the pre-industrial city, traditional and revisionist historians have pointed out that ethnic groups lived apart from the native-born and there was little or no social or occupational mobility. Sociologists and some historians have found a continuation of the ethnic enclaves in the industrial city, but they also found that there was an appreciable amount of occupational, social, and residential mobility for both native-born and foreign-born residents.

This study does not seek to challenge the conclusions of other scholars. Rather, it is intended to explain the process of urban transition from one city form to another by an investigation of a group of urban dwellers living through a period of industrial change. That life patterns changed is not of question here; the question deals with when, how, and to what extent industrial life affected people.

To seek answers to these questions, a random sample of 370 households was drawn from the 1860 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, manuscript census rolls. The residents activities were studied from 1860 to 1880 with the aid of the 1860, 1870, and 1880 manuscript censuses and the city directories begun in 1860 and published thereafter at three year intervals. The data indicated the residents' participation in the economic change produced alterations in occupational, social, and residential behavioral patterns. For example, they w~re socially mobile in that 40 to 60 percent of the residents engaged in new occupations and their increased earnings often allowed them to improve their social status. In the Milwaukee population, both fathers and sons accepted opportunities created by new industries. Their participation acted, further, to alter the pre-industrial residential pattern.

In short, the analysis assesses economic, occupational, social, and residential actions during the transition period of Milwaukee's economic life. The study indicates how an urban area adjusted to industrialization and to what extent that alteration affected urban residents.



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