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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

History: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Jason Eden

Second Advisor

Robert Galler

Third Advisor

Debra Gold

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Minnesota, Disaster Response, Forest Fire, Fire Wardens


Between 1870 and 1920 Minnesota business culture focused on depleting the land of its resources with little regulation while the ecological landscape was influenced by a hot and dry climatic cycle. As these two forces collide, Minnesota experiences its four “great fires” (1894, 1908, 1910, and 1918). Each of these fires provide substantive documentation on emergency response and relief illustrating Minnesota’s development of a disaster response program. With several localized fires, the learning gained from fire to fire can be assessed. After evaluating the responses to each of these fires, one can conclude that although technological advancements and complex relief organizations developed between fires, the business culture of Minnesota stymied any real learning on behalf of Minnesota settlers. The stymied learning of the settlers led to a similar death count for the first and fourth fires.

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