Synopses & Reviews
In this collection, noted scholars from several disciplines examine the daily lives of the women and families who settled in Virginia City.
The conventional view of Virginia City as a ramshackle mining camp populated largely by miners and the businesses - saloons, hotels, brothels- that served their needs obscures a significant and fascinating aspect of its history: it was home to large numbers of women and children. In this provocative and path-breaking collection of essays, noted scholars from several disciplines examine the lives of the women, from all social classes and many ethnicities, who settled on the Comstock Lode and struggled to create a stable community in that transient boomtown setting. The contributors to Comstock Women consider the complexity of women's experiences on the Comstock Lode, combining traditional historical research with demography, ethnic studies, architectural history, material culture, and literary studies, using as many tools as possible to arrive at insights not addressed by earlier histories and the limited primary records. Their conclusions change the way we view the position of Chinese women, the history of prostitution in the district, the economic roles played by women in the mining West, the wide-ranging social impact of such anodynes as opium, and the idea of community in a boomtown environment. A final essay on gender archaeology suggests yet another way to examine the lives of women who left few written records of their lives.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -380) and index.
Table of Contents
"I am afraid we will lose all we have made" : women's lives in a nineteenth-century mining town /C. Elizabeth Raymond --Women of the mining West : Virginia City revisited /Ronald M. James and Kenneth H. Fliess --Redefining domesticity : women and lodging houses on the Comstock /Julie Nicoletta --"They are doing so to a liberal extent here now": women and divorce on the Comstock, 1859-1880 /Kathryn Dunn Totton --"Secret friend" : opium in Comstock society, 1860-1887 /Sharon Lowe --Creating a fashionable society : Comstock needleworkers from 1860 to 1880 /Janet I. Loverin and Robert A. Nylen --Mission in the mountains : the daughters of charity in Virginia City /Anne M. Butler --Divination on Mount Davidson : an overview of women spiritualists and fortunetellers on the Comstock /Bernadette S. Francke --"Advantage of ladies' society" : the public sphere of women on the Comstock /Anita Ernst Watson, Jean E. Ford, and Linda White --Their changing world : Chinese women on the Comstock, 1860-1910 /Sue Fawn Chung --"And some of them swear like pirates" : acculturation of American Indian women in nineteenth-century Virginia City /Eugene M. Hattori --Erin's daughters on the Comstock : building community /Ronald M. James --Girls of the golden West /Andria Daley Taylor --Gender and archaeology on the Comstock /Donald L. Hardesty.