Women in the American West

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Twenty years after many Western historians first turned their attention toward women, Women in the American West synthesizes the development of women's history in the region, introduces readers to current thinking on the real experiences of Western women, and explores their influence on the course of expansion and development since the 19th century.

Women in the American West offers vivid portrayals of women as pioneers, prostitutes, teachers, disguised soldiers, nurses, entrepreneurs, immigrants, and ordinary citizens caught up in extraordinary times. Organized chronologically, each chapter emphasizes important themes central to gender and women's history, including women's mobility, women at home, wage labor, immigration, marriage, political participation, and involvement in wars at home and abroad. With this revealing volume, readers will see that women had a far more profound effect on the course of history in the Western United States than is commonly thought.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[O]ne could read the book from cover to cover, which is a lively and informative experience, or use the index to go directly to a subject…Even taking into consideration its sophistication, however, this book is primarily targeted at undergraduates. It is highly recommended for history and women's studies collections."


Feminist Collections

"This essential addition to the high school collections is written by a scholar in the field—a western women herself--for upper level students…A valuable purchase for the high school, especially for AP US History."


Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

"Highly recommended for both academic and community library reference collections."


Midwest Book Review

"The work is suggested for academic libraries of all levels, especially those supporting a women's or gender history/studies program."


Reference & User Services Quarterly

"This book will be useful in high school and undergraduate libraries looking for materials on the history and cultural influences of women on American culture and history. It is a unique look at the history of women in U.S. history and proves to be both insightful and unique."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598840506
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Series: Cultures in the American West Series
  • Pages: 387
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Series Introduction   Scott C. Zeman     xi
Preface     xv
Maps     xxi
Finding "Her Story" in the American West     1
Buffalo Bill, Frederick Jackson Turner, and the Male Frontier     2
New West, Old West, and the Women's West     6
The Literary Critique     10
Her Story and the Scholarship of Gender     11
The Multicultural Women's West     12
Getting to the Source of Her Story     14
Conclusion     25
Bibliographic Essay     26
Visible in Everything, but Invisible to History: Native American Women in the North American West     33
The Problem with Native American History     35
Counting the Invisible     37
Telling History     40
Sacagawea's West     42
Women of the Great Plains     46
Women of the Fur Trade     50
The Custom of the Country     52
Conclusion     58
Bibliographic Essay     58
Women of the Southern Borderlands, 1600-1846     65
An Extensive Borderland     65
Ancient Women of the Southern Borderlands     67
The Hohokam     69
The AncientPuebloan (Anasazi)     70
Pueblo Women of the Southwest     72
Women in Spanish New Mexico     74
Gender in Spanish California     82
Women's Resistance     84
Disease and Survival     88
Conclusion     92
Bibliographic Essay     93
Gender and Manifest Destiny, 1830-1870     99
Gender, Jeffersonian Ideology, and Manifest Destiny     102
Sentimental Domesticity     104
Manifest Domesticity and Texas     107
"Civilizing" Native Texas     114
White Women and the Acquisition of the Oregon Country     117
Women on Western Trails     126
Conclusion     132
Bibliographic Essay     134
Polygamy, Prostitution, and Women in Mormon and Mining Settlements, 1840-1890     141
Mormon Migration     147
The Mormon Trail     150
Slavery and Race in Mormon Country     151
Women, Power, and Polygamy     153
Rush Towns and Society     159
Keeping House, Selling Sex, and Defining Home     160
Native Women and Commerce in Mining Towns     169
Aftermath of the Bear River Massacre     172
Bibliographic Essay     173
The "New Woman," Mobility, and Western Space, 1877-1920     179
Introduction     179
Reform and the Indian Question     183
Suffrage     191
Technology     193
Labor and Immigration     198
Tourism, Leisure, and the Modern House     206
Conclusion     211
Bibliographic Essay     212
War, Depression, and the Creation of the West, 1914-1940     219
Introduction     219
Influenza and Disease     220
Health, Tourism, and the Plague     222
Gender, Women's Labor, and Western Tourism     224
Creating the West     233
Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, Racism, and the WKKK     238
Depression on the Plains and Prairies     243
Women's Labor Organizations     251
Conclusion     254
Bibliographic Essay     255
The Gendered Wartime and Postwar West, 1941-1980     263
Work and World War II     264
War Brides     268
Japanese Internment Camps     270
The Postwar West     280
Labor Activism     282
Freeways, Babies, and Boom     284
The Nuclear West     290
Politics of Conservatism     294
Mobility, Activism, and Home     298
Conclusion     305
Bibliographic Essay     305
Late Trends and New Directions     313
Definitions     316
Demographic Shifts     319
New Directions     321
Bibliographic Essay     326
Chronology     329
Glossary     337
Index     353
About the Author     387
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