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Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey Paperback – July 6, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0805211764 ISBN-10: 0805211764 Edition: Reprint

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Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey + Covered Wagon Women, Volume 1: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 + Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier (Oklahoma Paperbacks Edition)
Price for all three: $45.82

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211764
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- A revised edition of Schlissel's 1982 book (Schocken) about the journey westward in mid-19th-century America from the point of view of the women involved. Readers will find first-person narrations by the women themselves after an extensive (160 pages) introduction that not only sets the scene, but also adequately describes the trials and tribulations on this difficult journey. The author has added an entry from the diary of a 16-year-old bride that presents a lighter side of the trek. A worthwhile addition not only for frontier studies but also for its perspective on women's issues.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

After the depression of 1837, the prospect of "free land" and gold prompted more than 250,000 people to emigrate to Oregon and California between 1840 and 1870. History, relying predominantly on men's writings, often presents this journey in terms of mythic adventure. But what was it like for women? After studying the writings of 103 women, Lillian Schlissel determined that "If ever there was a time when men and women turned their psychic energies toward opposite visions, the overland journey was that time." In Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey, she explores her findings, quoting at length from her sources and including a selection of diaries and reminiscences at the end. Although unmarried adolescents were often exuberant about their experience, for the married women, particularly those with young children, the trip was fraught with danger and fear. Children could fall under wagon wheels or be left behind in the confusion of traveling with as many as one hundred other wagons. There were buffalo stampedes, Indian attacks, snakebites, dysentery, starvation, and cholera - many women note individual graves, sometimes one per mile. In addition, one of every five women was pregnant when the journey began or became so in the course of a trip that guidebooks said would take three to four months, but often took six to eight. Through Lillian Schlissel's fascinating and extremely readable account, we gain a fuller understanding of the journey few of these women wanted to take. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It's a wonderful book which you will enjoy for years to come.
Michele T. Woodward
This book is a marvelous window into the thoughts and feelings of our pioneer fore-mothers.
Daisy1
The excerts from the diaries and their arrangement are excellent.
M. Jack Hitt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Michele T. Woodward on June 25, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to read more about Jane Gould Tourtillot, who, it turns out, was my great-grandfather's aunt by marriage. For me, this book provided a glimpse into her world, and by extension, my world. I can't imagine riding a wagon or walking for miles wearing a long-sleeved, long dress in scorching heat. Or, for that matter, preparing meals, being pregnant, taking care of children, or burying a loved one on the side of the road. But these women did all these things in stride. Modern women focus on what women weren't able to do in the 19th century but this book shows that women have always been strong, brave and capable. It's a wonderful book which you will enjoy for years to come.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1997
Format: Paperback
Divided into thirds, Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey, illustrates the difficulties of being in the first wave of those brave pioneers who headed west in search of a better life. These were the trail blazing families, there were no shelters along the way, all they had was what was with them. In the second wave of pioneer trekkers one finds larger wagon trains, mostly families and some brave women who set out alone. This group had the advantage of following a trail already laid out although because of weather, Indians or the terrain detours were often made, nonetheless, they had the good fortune of occasionally finding an outpost or fort. With the third wave of pioneers one finds the wealthy, some coming in fine carriages, forgoing the famed Conestoga wagon, the wealthy often came with their servants who would set a fine table of linen and silver in the prarie grasses. Most remarkable in this book, which I could not lay down and in part read aloud to my husband, was how these women simply accepted their lot and made their lives. Their physical and psychological strength is compelling. Women had little choice but to head West if their husband so desired. Packing up, many of them realized they would never be returning to family and friends. What does one do if when sitting in a damp Conestoga wagon, in the midst of the prarie a thousand miles from nowhere while nursing a seven-month-old, and being mother of six other children all along on this trek, one finds that their husband has just died in a hunting accident.Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 5, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an incredible opportunity to journey into the past through the real-life writings of women who traveled west by wagons on the Overland Trail (1841-1867). Read what two women thought when they came across the waters from a hot spring -- one woman expresses her worry that Satan must be close by while another writes about the great convenience of being able to make quick a cup of tea! There are many stories that will make you laugh, cry, and wonder about the hardships and triumphs all these diary writers faced. This is a book you will read over and over again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
The thing I liked best about this realistic book was the author's explanations and details that went along with each pioneer woman's diary or letter. The author has done a great job keeping everything in order and the book was well written. I found the details to be a little dry (only because, as explained by the author, the women never describe their true feelings in their writings- just the bare facts).
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Halvorson on January 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
An excellent compilation of diaries of women traveling by covered wagons in the 1800s. Lillian Schlissel, the author, did extensive research, and, when possible, was able to give the reader information as to what happened to these women after their journies. The author was able to comment on the lack of personal details in the diaries by giving some history of "the culture of the times". What the women did share with us in their diaries was heartrending and I found myself brought to tears and full of gratitude for the comforts on my modern-day farm. A good read, and definitely worthy of keeping in the home library.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Janice M. Hansen on June 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
A trip to Bodie, California, the incredible ghost town in the Eastern Sierras, sent me on a quest to find everything I could about the life and times of women in the 1840's on. I was so amazed by the strength of these women and the hardships they coped with. It makes modern life with all it's conveniences nearly obscene in comparison. The diaries demonstrate how shielded these women kept of their intimate details. The birth and pregnancies were rarely referred to, which is so unfortunate for it would be fascinating to hear more of their experiences and their feelings of having multiple life-threatening births. You do not have to be a student to enjoy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sonia Levitin on March 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This very personal and human account of daily life on the trail, is an indispensible guide for anyone who really wants to understand the kind of people who settled the west. Diaries and in-depth commentaries heighten the reader's awareness and admiration for these valient travelers. Schlissel's scholarship is excellent, her conclusions are wise and sensitive.
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