64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2001
This book will open your eyes up to the way things were a century and a half ago. Back to the basics is an understatement. Imagine raising 8 children on a farm that you had to establish yourself because your husband and other family members perished on the trip west to get to an unknown territory far far away from immediate family? These women did it. They survived and thier children either a: lived and learned the life or b: died from illness or accidents. This is very graphic and very personable to the very core of many women's souls. Women who kept diaries on the Oregon Trail in 1850 and onwards. Women who were always "in the background" keeping the family fed, clothed, silent and schooled. Women are most definitly the most gentle and most strong of the sexes.. Why? Because they have a continuous human spirit and one that gets them through the toughest of times of all.
Please read this book and with that said.. the pictures in this book are a historian's dream!
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Pioneer Women-The Lives of Women on the Frontier is a must for collectors of western lore-whether as used for reference or just for reading pleasure this book delves into little covered issues and answers the questions previously unmentioned regarding women on the frontier. From traveling west to every day life, from cooking to birth control, women domestic pioneers to women entrepreneurs; if you have a question about the lives of women in the 1800's this book probably has the answer in its pages.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2001
Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith do a fine job of showing and telling the pioneer experience through the eyes of our frontier women. With visual images and descriptive narratives, PIONEER WOMEN details the everyday struggles and deprivations experienced by our westward women.
The stories are about courageous women that left behind well-established homes to travel to unsettled regions; women that learned to "make do" and start from scratch to set up housekeeping; women from all walks of life who melded together to do what they could to improve their new surroundings; and the women who civilized the West.
PIONEER WOMEN is a collection of stories as taken from letters, diaries, memoirs, oral histories, and other personal papers of women themselves. It's brilliantly reconstructed and a must read for the avid or casual reader!
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 1999
In Pioneer Women, Peavy and Smith do a good job of inclusion of the women of different classes and races who helped "civilize" the western U.S. They also do a good job of confronting myths with facts and in juxtaposing ideal portraits with real. In Pioneer Women, one sees mud as mud and buffalo chips as buffalo chips. But the authors also point out the resourcefulness of pioneering women who overcame the mud and used the buffalo chips for fuel and for survival. Pioneer Women is a very good, informative read!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2009
This book gets it right. Occasionally a reader finds a book that rates a score of five on a scale of one to five, yet the reader knows that the authors could have added even more of value by increasing the number of pages by half. This is that type of book. The challenge would have been to make it as readable and as available to the general reader. These authors have chosen instead to write additional books.
Readers will find "Pioneer Women" extraordinarily readable. In addition, it is the most accurate and realistic among the several books I have read on this and related topics. Not surprisingly, the majority of those books are listed in the bibliography. This is indeed a book that improves greatly upon its sources.
The authors point out that in places, the frontier in America extended well into the twentieth century. My wife and I were raised on ranches where home was a log cabin without water or electricity. Meals were cooked on a coal and wood stove; kerosene lamps provided light at night. My mother was born in 1894, married in 1914, and kept a diary from 1918 into the seventies. This book is exceptionally true to that diary, to my own experience, and to the gossip I heard listening to my parents and their contemporaries.
History should be reported without an agenda. Inevitably a little distortion creeps in, but Peavy and Smith manage to keep it to a bare minimum. They cover hardships of pioneer life, the experiences of minorities, female influences on civilization and culture, and feminist issues without letting any of those become a focus of the book. They use first-person accounts from pioneer diaries and letters effectively without this being a reprinting of those accounts. Further, the authors obviously have an in-depth understanding of their subject and are able to project that into their text.
This is not an academic study and readers with an interest in that area should refer to the bibliography which lists several such studies. This book uses an interesting approach to eliminating footnotes. They explain it in the fine print at the beginning of the bibliography. I suggest that readers read that explanation before starting the first chapter; if the authors revise the book sometime, perhaps they will consider adding a note in the introduction that directs us there.
There are very few aspects of the pioneer experience that the authors have missed. The chapter titled "Behind Closed Doors" on family dynamics ably addresses issues seldom covered in other general texts. Throughout the book I found that whenever I thought of a new topic that should be covered, it soon appeared. If you are a history buff interested in a general coverage of the lives of women on the frontier, this is the book for you. If you are looking for in-depth coverage of particular aspects of pioneer life, start with this book and it will help you keep your topic in the proper perspective.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is very informative on the pioneer womens' behalf. It shows their hardships and their strengths. The fortitude and endurance these women had is amazing. The photos are excellent too.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 1998
This book on the lives of the Frontier Women is extrodinary! So many subjects on their trials and life-styles that I hadn't even Thought of! It's amazing what these women went through, and how they 'adapted' to their situations. Remarkable.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2006
This book is nicely divided into different phases of western life, like traveling the trail, family, homelife, etc. The pictures are fantastic. It's a fast read and perfect for anyone interested in this time period. Higly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Pioneer Women: The lives of Women on the Frontier details the lives of women and the trials they faced in moving to and living on the American frontier. The book goes into detail about women and what they were giving up to follow their husbands, etc, to start a new life outside of the civilization they were used to.
Primary resources, such as diaries from women who lived through this period in history, are rare. The authors of this book did a great job finding these rare resources and presenting the information in a very organized way, from what women went through traveling to their new home and cooking and caring for family on the trail,to giving birth away from all conveniences.
This is a great book for those interested in the history of women and the movement westward, and what an individual would face in this situation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The book explores the roles women played in the American Western Pioneer experience. It is full of poignant and amusing photos of real women who more than held up their end of keeping their families together as they journeyed to and settled in the west. The accompanying narrative is striking and surprising. I appreciated the diversity of women recorded. We read of all classes, white and Afro-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont