Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Lou Ann Wurst

Second Advisor

Jaems Schwaderer


Coalwood was a cordwood lumber camp operated by Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at the turn of the twentieth century. Workers were encouraged to live there with their families to blunt labor tension and save the costs of boarding houses and dining facilities. Many children lived in the camp; in 1910 there were at least 43 children at Coalwood. Most workers were Finnish immigrants and all but five children were either Finnish immigrants or the children of Finnish immigrants. Excavations in 2014 sampled the camp manager’s house, the store, and three different workers houses. While the sample size of children’s material culture is not large, there is a significant diversity among the material. A high concentration of school materials was found near the workers homes, which supports the claim that Finnish immigrants emphasized education in their homes. The overwhelming majority of children at Coalwood were literate according to the 1910 census as were the workers of Coalwood. While a diverse group of toys were found at the site this paper focuses on dolls and marbles. By analyzing their material culture we are able to learn more about the Finnish Immigrant experience, economic disparities between workers and their foreman and everyday life at Coalwood.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted