Women in Waiting in the Westward Movement: Life on the Home Frontier

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9780806126166: Women in Waiting in the Westward Movement: Life on the Home Frontier
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Book by Peavy, Linda, Smith, Ursula

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From the Back Cover:

During the last half of the nineteenth century, thousands of men went west in search of gold, land, or adventure - leaving their wives to handle family, farm, and business affairs on their own. The experiences of these westering men have long been a part of the lore of the American frontier, but the stories of their wives have rarely been told. Ten years of research into public and private documents - including letters of couples separated during the westward movement - has enabled Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith to tell the forgotten stories of "women in waiting." Though these wives were left more or less in limbo by the departure of their adventuring husbands, they were hardly women in waiting in any other sense. Children had to be fed, clothed, housed, and educated; farms and businesses had to be managed; creditors had to be paid or pacified - and, in some cases, hard-earned butter-and-egg money had to be sent west in response to letters from broke and disillusioned husbands. This raises some unsettling questions: How does the idea of an "allowance" from home square with our long-standing image of the frontiersman as rugged individualist? To what extent was the westward movement supported by the paid and unpaid labor of women back east? And how do we measure the heroics of husbands out west against the heroics of wives back home? Based on the experiences of more than fifty women - from Abiah Hiller, whose business sense equaled or excelled her husband's, to Emma Christie, who knew virtually nothing about the matters she was called upon to manage - Women in Waiting in the Westward Movement offers a rare glimpse into life on the home frontier and provides new insights into fairly common, though poorly documented, aspect of the history of the settling of the American West.

About the Author:

Ursula Smith pursued graduate work at San Francisco State University under a Ford Foundation Fellowship and taught in the San Francisco school system. She began collaborative work in women's history and biography with coauthor Linda Peavy in Bozeman, Montana. Since then Peavy and Smith have coauthored ten books, including Women in Waiting in the Westward Movement, Pioneer Women, Frontier Children, and Frontier House. Currently residing in Vermont, Smith has given presentations and workshops with Peavy across the nation, including at the Library of Congress and the White House. With Peavy she has been awarded a Redd Center for Western Studies Independent Research Award, a Smithsonian Short-Term Visitors grant, two nonfiction writing residencies at Centrum, Port Townsend, Washington, and two Paladin Awards for excellence in writing western history.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780806126197: Women in Waiting in the Westward Movement: Life on the Home Frontier

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ISBN 10:  0806126191 ISBN 13:  9780806126197
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994
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