A Place to Grow
These are essays focused on women and the frontier (abbreviated from the Foreword in the book). The Western History in the 1990s has research on western women that is rich, varied, and increasingly sophisticated. But answers to crucial controversies remain elusive. Did the American West offer women a place to grow? Did women find more economic opportunities in the West than elsewhere? Were western women more politically active and effective than their eastern counterparts? Did the West's reputed liberalism and democracy shape the lives of all western women for the better? Or did women of some social classes, races, and ethnic backgrounds face difficulty? I have selected ten essays that I have found especially useful in explaining the nature and importance of these issues. in the classroom as well as for audiences of both colleagues and laypersons. I have rounded out the selection with an essay written especially for this volume and with a large collection of primary documents. The result is a text that addresses these questions and, in the process, reveals both the complexity of research issues and the multiplicity of women's perspectives. These essays discuss and analyze a variety of topics concerning women's lives and experiences in the American West. Interspersed among the essays, the documents not only give the flavor of women's attitudes and reactions to issues of the day, but also demonstrate the importance of women's own words as historical evidence.
The selections presented here, which explore gender, race, class, region, and other variables, are arranged in five sections: 1) stereotypes of western women, 2) women and westward trails, 3) women migrants and Native Americans, 4) women and work, and 5) women, adaptation, and change. Almost every type of western woman is represented, although archivists and scholars have only recently begun to retrieve other ethnic groups.
- 1992 Harlan Davidson, Inc.
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