Synopses & Reviews
The genuine creative achievements of nineteenth-century western women have often been obscured by sentimental tributes to their devotion and diligence, while men are praised as pathfinders, entrepreneurs, and community builders. But the nineteen narratives in So Much to Be Done
by women of diverse status and background reveal women's involvement in every aspect of settlement. Their part in making hard decisions, producing essential income, and developing new communities was as important as their flexibility, humor, and sense of adventure. This collection describes the experiences of pioneer women responding in individual ways to the challenge of frontier hardships.
The letters, diaries, and memoirs presented here offer glimpses of women's courage, physical strength, and independence that were the equal of any man's, even as they also reveal the failures, weaknesses, and tragedies that beset both sexes during the complex settlement process. Women describe their multiple daily tasks, the ingenuity by which they asserted themselves or circumvented patriarchal authority, the networks of relatives and friends who made the survival of both men and women possible. Such information is seldom found in men's narratives. Women's words provide rich veins of new material for social historians.
About the Author
Ruth B. Moynihan, a member of the Connecticut Center for Independent Historians who also teaches at the University of Connecticut, is the author of Rebel for Rights: Abigail Scott Duniway (1983) and other works. Susan Armitage, director of the American Studies Program and a professor of history at Washington State University, is coeditor, with Elizabeth Jameson, of The Women's West (1987) and the author of other publications. Christiane Fischer Dichamp, formerly a professor of American Studies at the University of Nancy, edited Let Them Speak for Themselves: Women in the American West, 1849-1900 (1977).