Women in the Lumber Camp

Photo of two female cooks; one holds a dinner horn and one holds a fiddle and both appear to be in their twenties, 1917.

Women cooks in front of logging camp cookshack, Bill Landahl Camp, Beltrami County, ca. 1917.

Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection, Location No. HD5.7 p61, Negative No. 33301

"Sister had so much cooking to do and my mother too; the two winters I was with her just as soon as they'd be gone we'd wash the dishes, and she'd go to cooking because that hot dinner had to be sent out."

—Maggie Orr O'Neill

Women were a rare sight in a logging camp. Very few camps had women cooks and these were often family of the camp supervisor or another logger. A group of nuns visited occasionally to sell hospital "tickets"—similar to insurance. For the most part, a woman wouldn't go anywhere near a camp of 60 to 100 lumberjacks out in the wilderness; all of the work—including cooking—was most often done by men.

Maggie Orr O'Neill Oral History Interview, Oct. 1, 1955
(Mrs. O'Neill worked in a lumber camp in the 1880s.)