Talk:Upper Midwest

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The map did not meet any of the FIVE definitions given on the text of the web page. For example, NONE of the definitions included Ohio or Wyoming.

Obviously, there are differences of opinion on the definition of the region, but the map needs to reflect at least one (or better, all five) of the definitions offered on the web page.

We just cannot have a map that is contradicted by all five definitions. Kitplane01 (talk) 09:36, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

DOD def[edit]

I dumped the DoD definition since i found a contradiction of it from Corps of Engineers, and no verifying ref is given. Awaiting response from original contributor of that secn. However, i left MN slightly in doubt (i summarized as

lv MN "generally" in case the DoD defn i deleted isn't complete bunk

). --Jerzy(t) 21:54, 2004 Nov 15 (UTC)


I threw together a quick map of the Upper Midwest as defined by the AIRUM, you can find it here. I think a map would be a good addition to this article, maybe someone can find a more professional one. If not, maybe we should add this one. BSveen 19:53, Nov 19, 2004 (UTC)

IMO, it's probably "professional" enough, but not appropriate to the article in its present form, due to the info content. The thrust of the article is that there's no one boundary, and including one map would confuse and mislead. How about a similar map with two saturations of the same hue? The intense area would be the core states as discussed, the dimmer area would be the additional states that are sometimes included. --Jerzy(t) 00:16, 2004 Nov 20 (UTC)
Some of the definitions that some of those organizations provide are a little strange and might be more "rigidly mechanical" than true representations of what is considered the upper midwest. For example, I don't know anyone who actually considers missouri a part of the upper midwest. Personally I think that the AIRUM's definition is the best of the bunch.
But anyway I see where you're coming from, so if I were to re-make the map, my question would be this: What states should be dark ("core states") and which should be light? One idea could be: Dark states-- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, UP Michigan; Light states--Rest of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, the Dakotas. Let me know what you think and I'll put a new map together. BSveen 00:37, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
I TOTALLY think Michigan (all) is core), and for that matter, IMHO, Il. & In. & Oh., and the Dakotas is "light". jengod 01:35, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
I really don't see how Ohio can be deemed a part of the Upper Midwest. The LOC link in this article discusses Ohio as part of the Old Northwest 2 centuries ago, not the modern Upper Midwest...I also have a hard time seeing Indiana as part of the Upper Midwest. There's no question it's part of the Midwest, but 'Upper Midwest', I don't know. After all, 'Upper' implies that it is above something, and Kentucky (the state below Indiana) is not part of the Midwest.. BSveen 02:03, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
Okay, I'm shutting up after this, but to my mind/eye, the Upper Midwest is: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa. There is no Lower Midwest. The above states are those that are more "northern-oriented" (culturally as much as anything) than the remainder of ye olde midwest. jengod 02:09, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

To my mind, the AIRUM boundary is perfect. (Note that "it's not for nothing" that the most aggressively Minnesotan film of the current generation bears as title the name of a Dakotan city.) But (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on PoV) this article is not about any one mind. The current map and the caption writ for it are both so busy expressing a PoV abt how little Ohio & MO matter as to fail in a graphic's proper job of giving a quick visual overview of the article text. The verbose caption (which i have replaced), striving to correct for the mismatch between graphic and text, further interfered with that function. My replacement caption

Candidates for inclusion in the Upper Midwest, with more consistently included ones shaded darker

lets the map speak for itself (instead of being explained to death) & implicitly directs the reader to the text for the details.
Two saturations can only do the job if OH & MO are treated equally with 5 others, but three saturations would permit those 2 states to be distinguished (IMO legitimately) from the 5. I would hope we can look forward to either a three-shade map, or if that's infeasible, a different 2-shade one. Either would still fit the newest caption.

As to the rest of MI and various details, the article may not yet be adequate, and if not, our various opinions are not solutions, but just hints that the article deserves more research that may (or not) show, e.g., that the difference in consistency of inclusion between the UP and LP of MI is insignificant once we have found a dozen different versions, and weighted them sensibly for frequency of citation. But i think we should bear in mind that it is inevitable, and proper, that 'pedias, while giving less space to less significant topics (and less significant candidate states, in this case) still must give less significant things a bit more space and attention than strict proportionality to significance would dictate; if we did strict proportionality we'd fail to even document the fact of their low significance. (It's a lot like the ear working logarithmically, so that tiny sounds can still be audible).
Another topic for research: do we need to more explicitly account for the shifting locus of the Midwest with the advance of settlement, and perhaps separate old UMW defs from new UMW defs? This might solve some of the current discomfort.

There is a lower Midwest, tho the term seems much less used. I'm not sure it deserves an article, and i would hope it deserves a line about being less used, and at most a shorter article. I doubt we need to deal with that to get this article right.
--Jerzy(t) 15:20, 2004 Nov 20 (UTC)

My idea would be to re-write this article in the straightforward style of the American South Central States article; mentioning the agreed-upon states as the core definition and and then mentioning in passing the states generally not associated with the Upper Midwest but those that are included in some rare cases. (In other words, the AIRUM definition that we all agree upon should be the gold standard here).
I would also say that Ohio and Missouri should be dropped from the article completely; MO is only included in the seemingly 'rigidly mechanical' definition that the NWS provides (by the way, there isn't an external link in the article to an NWS page that provides their definition for the U.M.), and Ohio is included in the LOC article, which discusses America circa 1800, not America today (as you alluded to). BSveen 21:44, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
IMO "strange" or "rigidly mechanical" definitions do not deserve exclusion: it is valuable to report on both what casual users of the terms mean by them, and what technical experts mean. Other WP articles linking to this article may often be as vague as casual speakers, but some articles and some users who type in "upper midwest" will do so in contexts that imply referring to a technical usage. (One might think we were wandering into dict-def-ing here, but 2 of my 3 dictionaries list "Middle West" (with one definition matching our Census Bureau one and one not), and none defines "Upper Midwest".)
You make it sound as if we are all agreed on the Dakotas-thru-UP as a def, but
  • as i read this talk page the Dakotas have been questioned, and
  • i only endorsed that boundary as my personal impression, which i consider irrelevant.
I'm afraid i looked at the DoD site hard only bcz KY sounded to me so far off base, and i'm embarrassed to have had about as much trouble searching the NOAA site.
I did find NWS Central Region, and i'm struck on one hand by our supposed NWS UM def neatly leaving out a compact group of 6 states constituting about the western half of the region, and on the other hand by the NWS UM's and the region's eastern boundaries differing as to OH & KY! I.e., NWS's suppoed UM is not the eastern chunk of NWS's Central Region.
While i'm disappointed that our supposed evidence is not as easily verified as hinted by the running text of the Sept. revision (intact after my first edit, where i summarized it), and while i'm not prepared to track down the evidence that probably exists on the Web (and may or not be representative of the full evidence the respective agencies have posted), i think it's worth emphasizing that pointing out a lack of verifiability of even all of AIRUM's competitors would not amount to verifying that boundary, and reducing the substance to "According to AIRUM, the Upper Midwest is ..." is almost surely a half- (or eighth-)truth. I urge further research, whatever the next text of the article is, including at least two lines of inquiry:
  • Consult with the reference librarian at a library that is a Federal Publications depository, and write to appropriate agencies if necessary.
  • Google for
"Upper Midwest",
and for
"New England"
and restricting each time to a newspaper site in one of these states (or the upper or lower Peninsula of MI); the ratio should be near 1.0 unless that newspaper treats its city as part of the Upper Midwest, but tilted toward UM if it does. Additional reliability checks would compare control searches: restricting to a San Jose and a Chapel Hill newspaper's sites, and restricting to each of the sites previously mentioned, for the same strings and for
Hollywood OR tobacco OR Iraq OR wireless
--Jerzy(t) 07:58, 2004 Nov 21 (UTC)
  • A comment from a person that lives in North Dakota: North Dakota is in the Midwest and is on the northern boarder of the country. Upper-midwest seems right from here. Now I don't know much about who is trying to define what...but if you ever have been to North Dakota and ever mentioned that they are not thought of as part of the Upper midwest, you either would be laughed out of town or be eating your teeth (no this isn't a threat. I've lived in ND most of my life..born in MN...and actually seen more than one out-of-state college student on a college campus or the nearby bar literally have teeth punched out if they suggest otherwise). North Dakota isn't on the coasts, so that's out. It is concidered a mid-western state, and is (like stated before) on the northern boarder. I honestly fail to see anyone's logic stating that it isn't. --Brian (How am I doing?) 04:18, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Agreed with N Dakota & S Dakota (at least eastern portions) being in the Upper Midwest. Farm publications often talk about the Upper Midwest and distinguish it from other portions of the midwest. One of the defining characteristics is that farms in the area tend to be considerably larger than in other portions of the U.S. and use different techniques and larger machinery. 1200 acres is not uncommon (that's 2 square miles). Usually restricted to areas where wheat is NOT a major crop (which gets you into the Great Plains). Ohio, Missouri

and even Indiana are out. -- (talk) 19:30, 12 April 2010 (UTC)


So, this article starts by talking about states which are always included in the definition of Upper Midwest, then later gives definitions of Upper Midwest which don't include them (like Iowa.) Anyone opposed to me fixing this contradiction? kmccoy (talk) 23:12, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Upper Midwest vs Midwest[edit]

These are different. This article seems to confuse the two. The upper midwest is often considered to be S.Dakota, N.Dakota (eastern Portions) Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan, nortern 2/3 of Iowa, and possibly northern Illinois. Indiana and Ohio, while part of the midwest are definiately not part of the upper midwest, nor is Missouri. The term is common in agricutural publications and this area has a shorter, cooler growing season, and larger farms. -- (talk) 19:06, 12 April 2010 (UTC) A shorter definition might be the area of the midwest north of the southern tip of Lake Michigan, sometimes only the portion west of Lake Michigan. The area extends into the eastern part of the Dakotas, sometimes including all of those states. -- (talk) 17:27, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Colours and appearance[edit]

I have made a proposal to change the colour of the map box, please see the discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. regions --Qirex 05:38, 31 October 2005 (UTC)


In my opinion (southern Minnesotan) Chicago is not a part of the upper midwest. It seems to me that Chicago is too industrial, and too poor, and frankly too black to be considered part of the upper midwest. Chicago seems to be part of an entirely different area called the rust belt. This article should focus mainly on The states of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and upper peninsula of Michigan. If this is made, the part about France would be removed.

What do industry, poverty, and race have to do with a regional definition like "Upper Midwest"? Even if poverty is a factor, Chicago the LAST place to be removed, wouldn't it? It's the financial center for the whole region. Very far from "poor". (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 05:59, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Demographic/Cultural Angle[edit]

The Upper and Lower Midwest can also be defined in terms of the people who settled and lived there. The areas more or less north of Interstate 80 were mostly settled by people from New England and, later, Germany and Scandinavia. The southern areas were more heavily settled by people from Virginia, Kentucky, etc. The cultural differences are still pretty profound. Cranston Lamont 18:30, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Wouldn't it be closer to Interstate 70? --JWB 23:05, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Nope, too far south, mostly. -- (talk) 19:37, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Much confusion needs to be sorted out and set straight[edit]

I concur that Chicago might not be included in most definitions of the upper midwest, but not for most of the reasons stated above. I believe part of what is throwing people off is that they are confusing upper midwest with the northern tier states--or more specifically, with its perceived demographic, cultural, and political "northerness"--and/or they are conflating the very concept of the Midwest to includes states as far west as the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, even eastern Montana, which I think is a basic conflation of the terms "Midwest" and "Prairie state" with "Great Plains state". By this expanded definition of the Midwest, even parts of Wyoming and Colorado could be included, and indeed, I've seen Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and even Louisiana included as "the Midwest", which I believe is clearly inaccurate (those who include those last 4 are probably confusing the South Central states with the Midwest and conflate only the "Deep South" to be truly the South, or else maybe they consider everything west of the Mississippi River to be Midwestern). More often, I've seen Kentucky and West Virginia included with the Midwest, which I believe may have some merit.

What everybody seems to be forgetting, not acknowledging, or perhaps unaware of is that the common modern definition of the "Midwest" extending west to the Rockies and including all or most of the Frontier Strip is a more recent development than the term "upper midwest", which was coined back when only states east of the Missouri River were included (and this is still a common conception today by many in the eastern United States; it seems that it is mostly westerners and western Midwesterners who insist on this larger, most western-extending definition). So when we limit the Midwest to those states east of the Missouri River: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and maybe Kentucky and West Virginia, we can see that the original definition of the upper Midwest was the northernmost or "Great Lake states": Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (and maybe northernmost Illinois, Indiana, Ohio), while the rest of the Midwest can be thought of as "lower", or else just plain regular "Midwest". It seems I have heard some weather forecasters say "lower Midwest", and indeed, the southern parts of Illinois, Ohio, and much of Indiana and Missouri have cultural ties to Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, etc., while the remainder of the Midwest was formerly tied to the Northeast (New England and Mid-Atlantic states), and received significant immigration from Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, etc.

As for the "Chicago-by-southern Minnesota" person's comments about the French, I think it is irrelevant. The article is merely comparing the size of the population and the land area to that of France; it is not saying that the population is French (even though much of this area was first colonized by the French, but this is not largely reflected in the current population). Shanoman (talk) 23:21, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Agreed that something needs to be determined and done with this article, looking through the edit history it appears that there's been a substantial amount of back and forth on material due to a lack of consensus on what definition of Upper Midwest is being considered for the article. I don't think that people are confusing the Upper Midwest with the northern tier Midwest. I think basically there's two fields of thought, cultural and geographic.
Cultural: Geographically the northern tier of the Northwest. I think the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Culture (at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) sums it up best: Although the exact contours of the Upper Midwest are open to debate, most arbiters apply the term to Minnesota , Wisconsin , and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (with overlap into lower Michigan, Ontario , Manitoba , the Dakotas, Iowa , Illinois , and even extending to river towns like St. Louis , Missouri ).
Regarding the statement about the Library of Congress that was removed, then restored, and finally removed again for the current page: the only information I've found about the Upper Midwest in the LOC is here, which as you can see entails the Upper Midwest as Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. As does the very first hit using the search term "Upper Midwest", a cultural literary review.
Geographic: The northern part of the modern definition of the Midwest, Ohio/Indiana to the Dakotas, which is what the current intro is based on. Supported in the current article by an arbitrary definition by a variety of scientific federal institutions.
The "meat" of the article should be written around the cultural definition, with a paragraph or two detailing the expanded (geographic) definition to clear up any confusion. I don't think it's feasible to give the two equal standing (that is, kilobytes) in the article; with the former you can mention voyageurs and populism à la the Minnesota Farmer–Labor Party and the Wisconsin Progressive Party and iron mining and that funny albeit endearing accent (as a start). Honestly, what is someone going to write about in regards to the second definition rather than its arbitrary geographic base? The article would stay basically where it already is (mediocre/awful) – to paraphrase, "well, MN/WI/MI/Chicagoland are Democrats but the Dakotas and Montana and Indiana until they decided to change their minds in 2008 aren't". How observant. Just my two cents. Minnecologies (talk) 02:54, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

This map has it right[edit]

I'm glad Ohio is striped on this map, now it just needs to be striped in the regular Midwest map, and the Northeast map, then I'll be satisfied.

An alternate map[edit]

User:Mimzy1990 has created an alternate map of the Upper Midwest. Before it is used instead of the one that has been on the article for several years there needs to be consensus. The map is File:Uppermidwest.JPG. My own preference is for the older map because it shows the areas that are definite as well as those that vary in the different definitions. However, as Mimzy1990 points out "the upper midwest is the northern midwest" and claims therefore that the old map is inaccurate. Please have a look and see what you think. Beeswaxcandle (talk) 00:49, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Mimzy may indeed have a point. The current map is really not very helpful. However, I would have to ask how Mimzy created this map. Is it entirely a work of Mimzy's creation? If so, then it probably violates WP:OR, and therefore cannot be used in the article. But I will withhold my opinion until Mimzy provides us with further info. Unschool 01:37, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
I created the map, but my boundaries are hardly an original idea. Look up other maps of the Upper Midwest and you will see very similar boundaries set.

I just think the other map was tragically incorrect.

For example - is Missouri EVER considered "upper" Midwest? some people would even say it's not Midwest at all, but in the upper south!

Mimzy1990 (talk) 03:12, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

That's also what I think is sort of the problem of a lot of these "official" declarations, they're oversimplifications and include places that are very debatable. (I should preface this by saying I'm a Minnesotan): to me, Missouri is in the south, and a good part of Illinois and Indiana are southern. I added the tidbit about the cultural upper Midwest in the article, and think that MN-WI+UP are it. I have a natural science background and have read many scientific articles (read the abstract in this one example) that indirectly state that. I have time in the coming months and could back that up. As far as the map goes, I like the original one because it includes the different definitions, but I agree with how Mimzy has defined it more (not too keen on the color, and including county boundaries makes it a little busy in my opinion).
On another side note, once some sort of consensus has been reached as to what is considered here the Upper Midwest, then a historical background should be added. Talk about the Northwest territory, the fur trade, populism, etc. etc. minnecologies (talk) 12:27, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
I despair to think of the human energy that will be lost trying to define "Upper Midwest". Hell, not all books perfectly agree on what the Midwest is, let alone the separate parts of it. The fact is, we, the editors, should not be debating this at all. One of our foundation blocks on Wikipedia is no original research. As such, we need to stop speculating here. Find sources to define the term, and then debate on which source or sources are the most authoritative. Then go with it. That's how we roll. Unschool 17:38, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
I think many editors are confused and don't realize that there is a distinction between 'midwest' and 'upper midwest', where upper is taken to mean northern. When one googles for 'upper midwest', the listings that show up, and where people identify themselves as in the upper midwest are primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The language and culture, though extend somewhat beyond just these two states. Because of different culture and language dialect, it shouldn't include Missouri, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, though. --Aflafla1 (talk) 05:34, 15 November 2011 (UTC)