Constructing communities : The establishment and demographic development of sawmill communities in the Sundsvall district, 1850-1890
Abstract: This dissertation studies the establishment and demographic development of the sawmill communities that emerged in the Sundsvall district during the latter half of the 19th century. The intention is to highlight the importance of the sawmill communities and their resident populations by discussing community construction from a demographic perspective as well as socially and symbolically. Based on church registers, this is a longitudinal study that includes information from 31 individual sawmill communities. This study has shown that the establishment and demographic development of the sawmill communities was not an instant process that necessarily followed the construction of the sawmill industries. The prerequisites of the geographical locations and year of establishment influenced population development, but the speed and size of the settlements were individual to each mill site. More prosperous times for the industry during the 1870s resulted in that migration increased consequently leading to quickly populated communities and larger registered core populations in residence. Migration to the sawmill communities from within the parishes was infrequent and the geographical backgrounds revealed that an extremely small proportion of the populations had been born within the district, implying a migratory hesitation among locally born. The sawmill populations were male-dominated due to the large groups of temporary workers inhabiting the communities, although, adult males barely made up one-third of the registered populations. The largest demographic group was children aged 0-14 years. The strong presence of children and high proportions of married individuals suggests that the sawmill communities were family oriented communities, more so than non-sawmill areas. Long-time settled families had usually formed kinship networks with other residents. This dissertation concludes that while time was important for the development of the sawmill communities, so were the registered populations residing in these communities. Residency would have been key in claiming belonging to the sawmill communities and to be considered as a real sawmill worker. Residency, family and kin therefore contributed to the construction of community structures, geographically, socially and symbolically.
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