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Women and Gender in the American West

Edited by Mary Ann Irwin, James F. Brooks

Publication Year: 2004

Women and Gender in the American West collects essays for the first time on topics that range from Mormon plural marriages to women's experiences in Spanish Borderland slavery, from interracial marriage to the sexual exploitation of Indian women in British Columbia, from Navajo women weavers in the market economy to women's reform work in gold rush era San Francisco, from settler women in western Canada to Chicana activists in Texas. Beyond their topical interest, the essays also present the evolving analytical force of a field that has deepened and matured over time.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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pp. i-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii


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p. iv-iv

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p. v-v

The essays presented here appear through the generosity of their authors and the journals in which they originally appeared. Each of the journals granted permission to reprint without fees, as did the authors.We thank them for their financial as well as their intellectual contributions to the growing field of western women’s history. All proceeds from sale of this...


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pp. vi-vii

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About the Authors

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pp. viii-x

Joan M. Jensen is retired from teaching now and is completing a book, Calling This Place Home:Women on the Wisconsin Frontier, 1850-1925. Her previous titles include Loosening the Bonds (1988)...

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pp. 1-8

THE thirteen articles in this book mark the development of the field of western women’s history between 1980 and 2002. In 1980, the Pacific Historical Review published our article “The Gentle Tamers Revisited:New Approaches to the History of Women ...

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The Gentle Tamers Revisited: New Approaches to the History of Women in the American West

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pp. 9-36

The Gentle Tamers elaborated and codified the assumption that white males “tamed” the West in its physical aspects and that white women,who followed the men, gently tamed the social conditions (including,of course, white men). By focusing on women as a group, Brown filled a major gap in western historiography, and because he provided a thesis...

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‘At Their Peril’: Utah Law and the Case of Plural Wives, 1850

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pp. 37-52

...to the Mormon practice of polygamy during Utah’s territorial history.A relevant but lesser known aspect of the subject is the impact of Utah’s domestic relations laws on plural wives, as these laws were shaped by polygamy and the federal efforts to abolish it. While all polygamists were at legal risk, plural wives were vulnerable not only to criminal ...

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Race, Gender, and Intercultural Relations: the Case of Interracial Marriage

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pp. 53-65

...notions of race, gender, and culture in individual lives, as well as at the level of social and political policy.Yet, the potential of the subject has barely been tapped. The vast majority of studies have been carried out by social scientists, who search for laws of social behavior that might either predict or account for the incidence of interracial marriage. The...

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Women of Color and the Rewriting of Western History: The Discourse, Politics, and Decolonization of History

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pp. 66-88

HISTORIANS have long struggled with the need to rewrite western history and to articulate a new, inclusive synthesis that fully incorporates the history of women of color.1 In her concluding remarks at the Women’s West Conference in Sun Valley,Idaho, in 1983, Susan Shown Harjo (identifying herself culturally as Cheyenne and Creek and politically as Cheyenne and Arapaho) charged...

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‘A Memory Sweet to Soldiers’: The Significance of Gender in the History of the ‘American West’

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pp. 89-109

...maleness—as the region imagined as the American West. There is something odd about attending to gender in such a historical place—a place where the dominant popular culture suggests that white women were civilizers, women of color were temptresses or drudges, and men of color were foils for the inevitable white male hero, who is, after all, the...

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Gender, Race, Raza

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pp. 110-133

SINCE the publication of This Bridge Called My Back:Writings of Radical Women of Color (1981) and All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave (1982), scholarship by and about women of color has become increasingly central to the project of academic feminism in the United States.1 Many white academic feminists have, for their part, made a concerted effort to pay...

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Texas Newspapers and Chicana Workers’ Activism, 1919–1974

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pp. 134-159

...advertised for a fund-raising dance in the local labor-union paper. In “some of the most comely of the female sex to be found anywhere.They are good seamstresses besides.”1 Although the editors of the paper recognized the women’s struggle, they portrayed the dance merely as a social event.This incident was not unique. The press image of Mexican...

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‘This Evil Extends Especially . . . to the Feminine Sex’: Negotiating Captivity in the New Mexico Borderlands

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pp. 160-182

LATE in the summer of 1760,a large Comanche raiding party besieged the fortified home of Pablo Villalpando in the village of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. After a daylong fight, the Comanches breached the walls and killed most of the male defenders. They then seized fifty-seven women and children, among whom was twenty-one-year-old ...

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‘No Place for a Woman’: Engendering Western Canadian Settlement

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pp. 183-209

IN March 1996, Madeleine Gould’s nine-year quest for recognition as a Yukon pioneer ended in defeat when the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the right of the Territory’s fraternal Order of Pioneers to exclude women from its ranks. In their majority decision,the seven male justices in the nine-member highest court noted the long history of the all-male organization, “formed in 1894 by the Forty Mile ...

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Taming Aboriginal Sexuality: Gender, Power, and Race in British Columbia, 1850–1900

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pp. 210-235

IN July 1996 1 listened in a Vancouver court room as Catholic Bishop Hubert O’Conner defended himself against charges of having raped or indecently assaulted four young Aboriginal women three decades earlier. His assertion of ignorance when asked what one of the complainants had been wearing ...

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‘Going About and Doing Good’: The Politics of Benevolence, Welfare, and Gender in San Francisco, 1850–1880

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pp. 236-258

IN keeping with the Progressive era’s faith in solving social problems scientifically, newly founded Stanford University began collecting data in 1893 for an analysis of welfare in San Francisco, California. The published report contained a detailed list of the 204 public and private agencies providing social welfare services in the city, along with their expenditures for the year. The report revealed that, in...

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‘Strong Animal Passions’ in the Gilded Age: Race, Sex, and a Senator on Trial

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pp. 259-280

...offense, according to a Superior Court judge, stemmed from his inability to control his “strong animal passions.” Two women, an African American entrepreneur, Mary Ellen Pleasant,and an Irish American and purported prostitute, Sarah Althea Hill, orchestrated Sharon’s demise.This racialized and sexualized scandal tantalized San Franciscan and...

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Elle Meets the President: Weaving Navajo Culture and Commerce in the Southwestern Tourist Industry

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pp. 281-300

... The Commercial Club of Albuquerque chose a Navajo woman, called Elle of Ganado, to weave a gift for the president—a textile rendition of his honorary Commercial Club membership card. Club members provided the design, which Elle wove quickly in hand-spun red, white, and blue yarn. During his tour of Albuquerque, Roosevelt visited ...

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The Eastmans and the Luhans: Interracial Marriage between White Women and Native American Men, 1875–1935

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pp. 301-325

...memoirs, Elaine declared,“I gave myself wholly in that hour to the traditional duties of wife and mother, abruptly relinquishing all thought of an independent career for the making of a home. At the same time, I embraced with a new and deeper zeal the conception of life-long service to my husband’s people.” Charles, a medical doctor,...


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pp. 326-437

Back Cover

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p. 449-449

E-ISBN-13: 9780826351548
E-ISBN-10: 0826351549
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826335999
Print-ISBN-10: 0826335993

Page Count: 447
Publication Year: 2004

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Marriage -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Women -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Women -- Canada, Western -- History.
  • Indian women -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Marriage -- Canada, Western -- History.
  • Indian women -- Canada, Western -- History.
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