Date of Award:

5-1998

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Committee

Christopher Conte

Committee

Clyde A. Milner II

Committee

Carol A. O'Connor

Abstract

This thesis examined the relationships among ecology, economy, and society in the history of Longview, Washington, a planned timber settlement on the Columbia and Cowlitz Rivers. It compared the environmental, economic, and social histories of the Cowlitz Indians, American farmers, and urban industrialists that lived there over the past four hundred years.

The central argument of the thesis is that human society cannot separate its economic and social organization from its ecology, nor can it reorder the environment without restructuring its economic and social institutions. Three different groups lived in the same physical space, but since they conceived and used the land differently, their societies developed distinct social and economic frameworks.

The narrative of the thesis is chronological, tracing environmental, economic, and social change from about 1790 to 1934. During that time, humans gradually transformed a flood plain once dominated by vegetation and wildlife into a paved, sculpted, and densely populated industrial city. This study outlines the major causes and consequences of that transformation for both the land and its inhabitants.

A wide range of source material provided the evidence upon which my conclusions were based. In addition to the more conventional historical sources such as diaries, letters, newspapers, memoirs, maps, and census data, I consulted anthropological studies, geological and geographical surveys, ecological reports, agricultural bulletins, and sociological analyses. My findings are presented in Chapters 2 through 5, with chapter 6 summarizing and drawing final conclusions.

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