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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Search Results for: the letter 'T', Term Type: 'Things'

Term: tanning and leather processing

Definition: Leather tanning consists of treating animal skins with natural or synthetic chemical agents to preserve and toughen them. The earliest tanning manufacturer opened in Wisconsin in 1842 and remained an important growth industry until the 1920s.  At its peak around 1900, Wisconsin's tanning industry was producing about 15 percent of the nation's raw leather. Wisconsin's abundant forests proved ideal territory for the development of the tanning industry in the 19th century which relied on tanning agents derived from tree bark.  Leather tanneries were located along streams or lakes to take advantage of the water needed to process hides. Unfortunately, the byproducts of tanning had a detrimental effect on the environment, polluting waterways and producing harmful odors. The early tanning industry served primarily individual and local communities but with rising competition from urban factories in the late 19th century, many of the local shops were displaced. From the beginning, the industry was concentrated in Kenosha, Racine, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc/Two Rivers, and Milwaukee, regions that provided the best economic and environmental conditions for growth. The most growth occured in the 1840s when Guido Pfister and Fred Vogel set up operations in Milwaukee, creating a business that emerged as the state's leading manufacturer of leather.  The industry exploded during the Civil War when Wisconsin firms were called on to provide shoes, harnesses, and equipment for soldiers.  Milwaukee quickly became the unchallenged leader in the state, surpassing all other midwestern communities in the number of firms and production. While most hides were destined for the manufacture of harnesses, linings, bindings, and sole leather, boots and shoes utilized a large portion of the Wisconsin product as well. Increasing demands for product put considerable amounts of pressure on smaller tanners and led to industry consolidation and centralization to meet the needs of consumers. By 1910, Milwaukee had become the world's largest leather manufacturing center.  Increasing competition from abroad, however, led to the industry's decline in the U.S. and by the end of the 1930s, only the strongest firms remained in production.  Milwaukee remains prominent in leather production but tanning plays only a minor role overall in local economies.

[Source: Wisconsin's Cultural Resources Study Units, Wisconsin Historical Society]

71 records found

tabac (Fr.)
tackle (maritime)
tactics (Civil War)
Taft-Harltey Act
tank top (maritime)
tanning and leather processing
taps and dies (maritime)
tassels (farming)
Tell Sharpshooters (Civil War)
temperance movement in Wisconsin
ten-foot (railroads)
terra cotta (architecture)
terrace (farming)
territorial governor
tertiary strata (mining)
theaters in Wisconsin
Third Ward fire (Milwaukee, 1892)
through platform (railroads)
Tigers (Civil War)
timber frame (architecture)
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1622-1699
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1700-1749
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1750-1783
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1784-1835
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1836-1899
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1900 -1999
Titanic (Wisconsin passengers)
tobacco industry
toise (Fr.)
top-loader (logging)
topmast (maritime)
tornadoes in Wisconsin
tourism in Wisconsin
Tow-head (logging)
Tow-team (logging)
trade unions in Wisconsin
trainman (railroads)
transition rocks (mining)
transom (maritime)
trap, or trapean rocks (mining)
Travois (logging)
Treaty of 1825 (Prairie du Chien)
Treaty of 1827 (Butte des Morts)
Treaty of 1829 (Prairie du Chien)
Treaty of 1832 (Fort Armstrong)
Treaty of 1833 (Chicago)
Tredway Pumas (Civil War)
Tredway Rifles (Civil War)
Trees for Tomorrow
Trek Bicycle Corporation
trench (farming)
Trip-boom (logging)
triple-expansion steam engine (maritime)
Trough-roof (logging)
Troupes de la Marine (Compagnies Franches de la Ma
trunk (maritime)
tug; tugboat (maritime)
Turn (logging)
turn of the bilge (maritime)
turntable (railroads)

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