Close your eyes for a minute and imagine being a woman in the mid 1800s. Your family has decided to try their luck in the west, looking for free land. These journeys across the frontier were far from glamorous - it was a life of arduous toil. Women packed their lives into a wagon and traveled for hundreds of miles across the frontier in search of a better life.
Much of the work in establishing a home, feeding the family, working in the fields and all other manner of domesticity fell into the hands of women. For many of these women - who came from the more established Eastern states, it was an extremely difficult time as they were often left on their own - in the middle of nowhere - with their children and neighbors few and far between. Many of the books that have been written on this subject offer hundreds of first hand accounts.
Life on the frontier was not limited to the American west. Women in Australia during the 1800s also endured a similar lifestyle. The 'free settlers' were enticed by the opportunity to start a new life and they became a hardworking and influential part of colonial Australia. There are numerous firsthand accounts from women who moved to the inhospitable bush of Canada and carved out an existence using sheer will and determination. Susanna Moodie and Catherine Par Traill are well known sisters who wrote about their experiences as settlers in Canada. To learn more about this fascinating time, Jane Robinson's Parrot Pie for Breakfast, is an anthology of stories about women settlers in North America, Africa, Australia and India and many other points inbetween.
Pioneer women were the backbone of the homesteaders who moved west and traveled to lands unfamiliar to them. Fortunately, there are countless numbers of books that provide a fascinating insight into the lives of these strong, resilient women.