Synopses & Reviews
Scholars of the American West have largely overlooked the lives and work of three women public historians who, in the 1930s and 1940s, produced some of the most important writings about Oklahoma and the Southwest. In Hidden Treasures of the American West
, Patricia Loughlin illuminates the contributions of Muriel H. Wright, Angie Debo, and Alice Marriott to the study of the West and American Indians.
Muriel Wright, an Oklahoma Choctaw, promoted Oklahoma history in her writings for the Chronicles of Oklahoma, a journal published by the Oklahoma Historical Society. Wright focused on the progress, strength, and endurance of American Indian cultures.
Angie Debo, Wright's contemporary, studied American Indian history and Oklahoma's distinct identity as a place of frontier possibilities and American Indian settlement. She participated in the larger, national discourse concerning the history of the United States and the history of the American Indians, revisiting issues she thought were misrepresented in previous accounts.
Alice Marriott, an anthropologist, was known within the discipline as a pioneer of experimental ethnography, but she never enjoyed the respect her output deserved. Marriott strove to convince collectors that Indian arts and crafts from Oklahoma were just as authentic and valuable as those from Arizona or New Mexico.
Patricia Loughlin sketches the biographies of these influential women including their significant texts that contributed greatly to Oklahoma historiography, their establishment of new methodologies, and their understanding of state and regional history, federal Indian policy, and interpretations of American Indian cultures.
"With keen insight, Patricia Loughlin has produced a broad landscape of ideas that embraces gender, regionalism, and American Indian history in Hidden Treasures of the American West: Muriel H. Wright, Angie Debo, and Alice Marriott. Oklahoma has long been considered somewhat indefinable and outside the mainstream of traditional western history, yet a study of its development reveals all the complexity of the evolution of the Trans-Mississippi West. In this graceful narrative, Loughlin introduces a generation of women scholars who captured the history of American Indians in Oklahoma and the American West, and left a rich legacy of published materials. Wright, Debo, and Marriott, as women intellectuals of the 1930s and 1940s, occupied marginalized positions outside academia, but Loughlin maintains they turned their limitations into advantage. Free of the restraints of academic careers, they explored provocative topics and employed experimental approaches that established their own historical interpretations and affected the development of future methodologies. Loughlin's thorough research and careful analysis greatly enhance our understanding of the contributions women writers made to the history of the American West."--Linda Reese, East Central University
Remarkable women have played a crucial, but mostly invisible role in telling the intertwined histories of the American West, of American Indians, and of the nation. In this lively and deeply perceptive study, Loughlin traces the unconventional and fascinating paths of three such women, Oklahoma's Angie Debo, Muriel Wright, and Alice Marriott. A jewel of a book.--Virginia Scharff, Twenty Thousand Roads: Women, Movement, and the West
The stories of two women historians and one anthropologist of the 1930s and '40s and their work in Oklahoma and the Southwest.
About the Author
Patricia Loughlin is assistant professor of history in the department of history and geography at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond.