Thesis ID: CBB387851821

This Land Is Our Land: Tree Planting and Environmental Construction on the Nebraska Prairie (2023)


In 1895 the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill officially adopting the nickname the “Tree Planter’s State” on account of the founding of Arbor Day, the Timber Culture Act of 1873, and the “millions of trees planted by early settlers as windbreaks, woodlots, and orchards.” Since that time, Arbor Day and the Timber Culture Act have been the subject of countless historical studies, while the subject of settler tree planting remains largely unexplored. This thesis seeks to begin establishing a place for the stories, experiences, and legacy of settler tree planting within the regional narrative by examining the cultural, physical, and scientific landscapes in which tree planting occurred. Tree planting by early settlers went beyond the practical, economic purposes of supplementing timber resources that were lacking or acquiring land through the Timber Culture Act. Settlers brought with them ideas about what a landscape should look like and attempted to impose those ideas on the landscape at both local and regional levels. Trees were integral to that vision, and became a means by which settlers constructed homesteads, communities, and the region as a whole. This thesis argues that, through the process of local and regional tree planting, settlers not only constructed a physical and cultural landscape but participated in a process of knowledge construction, the legacy of which can be traced to the establishment of the scientific tree planting initiatives such as the Nebraska Forest Reserves and the federal Progressive era conservation initiatives such as the Shelterbelt project that would follow.

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Authors & Contributors
Bocking, Stephen A.
Brockmann, Sophie
Daniels, Stephen
Elliott, Paul A.
Gardner, Robert B.
Heiss, Hans
Agricultural History
American Quarterly
Environment and History
Environmental History
Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology
Railroad History
University of Pittsburgh Press
Cambridge University Press
Firenze University Press
Pickering & Chatto
Landscape; landscapes
Environmental history
Forests and forestry
Leonardo da Vinci
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
18th century
17th century
United States
Alps (Europe)
Great Plains (North America)
Nebraska (U.S.)
Great Britain
University of Nebraska

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