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Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  760 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
From a rediscovered collection of autobiographical accounts written by hundreds of Kansas pioneer women in the early twentieth century, Joanna Stratton has created a collection hailed by Newsweek as “uncommonly interesting” and “a remarkable distillation of primary sources.”

Never before has there been such a detailed record of women’s courage, such a living portrait of the
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 17th 1982 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 1981)
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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownEmpire of the Summer Moon by S.C. GwynneMayflower by Nathaniel PhilbrickElsie by Barbara Anne WaiteWomen's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel
The American Frontier
7th out of 336 books — 73 voters
My Ántonia by Willa CatherThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckLittle House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls WilderBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownO Pioneers! by Willa Cather
The Great Plains
35th out of 153 books — 84 voters


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Community Reviews

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Lori
Aug 09, 2015 Lori rated it liked it
I would give this a 3.5. This is a pretty interesting read. this is about mostly women who emigrated to Kansas from about 1840s 1880s. it was rough land then. At that time the Indians already lived there but not "white people". Joanna Stratton found a ton of interviews her great-grandmother did during this time period. this book is from 1981.Joanna put this book together from the interviews her great grandmother did all those years ago. I was a bit disappointed that all the interviews are white ...more
Karen
Apr 02, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
This wonderfully written history tells of life in Kansas in its pioneer days in the 19th century. In the 1920s the author's great grandmother collected stories from hundreds of women and these form the primary material for this book. The women were purposefully reflecting on and retelling important stories from their past which I think led to two things:

1) The stories are amazingly exciting and coherent - a historian's dream

2) Since the women were telling the stories well after the fact, nostalg
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Joanna
Apr 06, 2011 Joanna rated it really liked it
I love this stuff. I'm not sure if everyone else would feel the same, but I think it's fascinating to hear what these women's day-to-day lives were like. Holy moly!!!!!

Ok, now that I'm done, I downgraded this to a 4. It's really good for what it is, but after a while you really pick up on the fact that these women were writing for a magazine audience and that really impacted what they said. Also, it's only a really specific segment of the women that wrote - namely educated white women, so wherea
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Charlene Hisayasu
Jun 28, 2013 Charlene Hisayasu rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading the nitty gritty accounts of the lives of these real women who moved west to Kansas in the mid-1800's. The details and first-hand accounts bring great clarity to this portion of American history. Incredible physical hardships and emotional isolation take their toll on this female population. But out of the incoming wave of these courageous pioneers arises the progress of schools, churches, cities, and political movements in the maturing nation. A great read for those who enjoy le ...more
Sharyn
Feb 09, 2012 Sharyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author’s great-grandmother was the first female lawyer in Kansas and pleaded cases before the Kansas Supreme Court.

While playing in her great-grandmother’s attic, Ms Stratton came across a file cabinet filled with stories written by 800 pioneer women of Kansas. These women responded to the request to relate their experiences settling the Kansas frontier (1854 to 1890).

This history is limited in scope and in depth by the fact the 800 women were all white (and literate) homesteaders. The voice
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Stormy
Jun 03, 2015 Stormy rated it really liked it
Key resources of this book are 800 memoirs of pioneers of Kansas that the author's great-grandmother, Lila Day Monroe, had requested of pioneer women to record that earlier Kansas history. Mrs. Monroe was the first woman admitted to practice before the Kansas Supreme Court in 1895. One of her daughters had saved, typed and filed all those memoirs. JoAnn Stratton did a beautiful job of choosing from a limited number, some 200 memoirs, and integrating them to tell of the lives of pioneer women.

Th
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Georgene
Apr 15, 2015 Georgene rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I'll begin by saying I don't think I would have made a very good pioneer. The things that thousands of women went through in the territory, then state of Kansas boggles the mind.

Trees were scarce, so many home were made of prairie sod, while others were holes dug into the sides of what hills could be found. The weather went from scorching hot in the summer to blizzards so fierce that the little sod houses were actually buried in snow clear up past the roofs. Water was scarce and came mostly fro
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Shawn Thrasher
Jun 17, 2014 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it
These are my people, and I like reading about them. Lovers of Willa Cather or Laura Ingalls Wilder should run out right now and find this book. For those who romanticize the good old days, or who have a Little House on the Prairie fetish, this will definitely open your eyes as to how utterly difficult those days actually were. Every single thing our prairie ancestors had to do was done by hand, from the land - and Nature was always waiting, waiting to take it back, and maybe take their lives alo ...more
Jan C
Jun 06, 2009 Jan C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in history of the west or women's history
Shelves: history-west
I have noticed that when people come to my house and are looking for something to read, this is the book they pick up. It's not like it is the only book on the shelf. But everyone I have ever noticed picking up a book picked this one.
Leanna
May 11, 2014 Leanna rated it liked it
This book provides a picture of how hard life on the prairie was for these pioneer women. I thought the voices from the Kansas frontier were so interesting and captured the daily life of the prairie. I especially liked the chapters on schools and the interaction with Indians. The crazy part of reading this book for me is that I went looking for a digital version and I found Pioneer Woman, so I checked it out of the library and read it in between reading this factual account of Kansas pioneer wom ...more
Joan
Apr 14, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
One of the first books of women's history I read when I was a young woman myself, and I remember thinking, so THIS was what I was never told and why I never felt included in my country's history! History is literally that - HIS-story, generally written from the male perspective, so one does not get the accounts of what it was like for the females who, after all, were and are half the population and had a great deal to do with crossing the plains and settling in the new territories! These stories ...more
Barbara Mitchell
Jun 15, 2011 Barbara Mitchell rated it really liked it
Since I've been so busy catching up with yard work, I feel like I've been reading this old book forever, but it was so good it was worth the time. It was published in 1981, authored by Joanna L. Stratton, with an introduction by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Stratton used a collection of journals and letters from women who homesteaded in Kansas prior to the Civil War, and some memoirs from their daughters to tell what their life on the homestead was like. That's what makes the book so fascinating. A
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Rachel Mcclellan
Mar 13, 2013 Rachel Mcclellan rated it really liked it
When she returned to her grandmother’s house from college, Joanna L. Stratton found a goldmine of historical documents. Personal evidence and photographs from eight hundred pioneer women were neatly preserved into a file cabinet, in the corner of the attic. Joanna became very fascinated about the details of these historical facts. Her great-grandmother, Lilly Day Monroe, had collected memoirs from these pioneer women. Ms. Monroe’s wanted to eventually one day publish them. The memoirs included ...more
Chrissie
This book was begun by the author's great grandmother who asked Kansas pioneer women of the latter half of the 19th century to record their early pioneer experiences. These recordings were written many years after the times they depict, when the women were old and wrote of their younger days as pioneer women in Kansas. These written accounts of 800 women are the basis for this book. As a result, the stories told are very detailed and matter of fact, about housing, education, religious beliefs, c ...more
Stephanie
Jul 17, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Whenever think life's tough, I'm going to pick this book up and reread a chapter out of it! This women endured some serious challenges! I really enjoy reading about this generation, and the trials they endured in the hopes of a new life. Their hardships were heartbreaking, but their diary entries still had hope...these were not people easily dismayed. This book had a nice balance of nformation, real accounts, and background. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot too.
Nancy
Nov 01, 2015 Nancy added it
Shelves: strong-women
Excellent book about the history of the settlement of Kansas through the eyes and experiences of women. It was particularly poignant reading it while the power was out during a snowstorm. It really put things into perspective. I think the book might have come out differently had it been written in the last 10 years or so, when there would have been more excerpts from the letters of the pioneer women rather than the author's narrative interspersed with snippets of information. Maybe that would be ...more
Jenny
Nov 05, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
This book is intense. In fact I have been working on it on and off for a couple years. I usually read a chapter and then put it down for a month because it is hard to take in the suffering that these ladies faced. The physical and emotion deprivation of that time was immense. Yet the book also points out many positives and spirit of "concurring the land." As noted on page 229, "for with all these discomforts, there were never a happier or more unselfish people, always ready to share whatever the ...more
Roxanne
Sep 30, 2015 Roxanne rated it it was amazing
Since i moved to Kansas I have tried to read every book about the state. this is a great book about the pioneer women living in frontier Kansas. They had to be very strong women. They had to live through tornados, locusts, drought, dust bowls, Indian attacks. Loved this book.
Sue
Oct 28, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing
Having discovered a collection of autobiographical accounts written by pioneer Kansas women,the author lets us read how these women survived prairie fires, locust plagues, blizzards, lonliness, the day to day hard work both in the home and fields. When reading these wonderful narratives, the reader has to keep in mind that they were written long after the actual events so the accounts are not as depressing as one would expect - more like time makes the events less harrowing to the writer but def ...more
Elizabeth
Dec 15, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
This book is the fruit of decades of work by the author, her mother, and grandmother. Stratton's grandmother collected firsthand accounts from the original women who settled Kansas, her mother annotated and collated them, and Stratton herself organized them into a very readable historical narrative of life on the Kansas frontier from a woman's perspective using their voices. I learned a lot about the tenacity of the women as they recounted their lives on the frontier as well as a lot of Kansas h ...more
Fran
Jan 30, 2014 Fran rated it it was amazing
The stories in this book take you into the lives of pioneer women in Kansas. The pictures are wonderful also. What a great service Joanna L. Stratton did to publish these Kansas women's stories. I keep it on my frequently read shelf to remind me of the feelings of those who have gone before.
Danielle
Jun 15, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
Interesting information, but not always well presented. Quite often I'd find myself reading two "introducing the topic" sorts of sentences in the same paragraph - that was needless and made the reading murkier.

Since the book is already on a rather obscure topic (and isn't presented like an easy-to-read popular history) I would have liked it better if the sources were clearer. Certain sentences stated like fact would have been more believable if supported by a name, a supporting example -- someth
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Denise
Jul 25, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it
To get to where we are today took a long hard road. The travel, fight and spirit of women before us made today better. A collection of thought and written words of women that lived the pioneer life brings the trouble and love front and center. If not for these women that stood for more than I will ever completely understand todays advantages would not be.
A collection of written history was found in a file of the authors family belongings and this is the result.
This book fills its pages with wo
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Jennifer
Apr 26, 2016 Jennifer added it
Shelves: history
Learning about agriculture and how it has advanced along with the hard work of men and women will allow my students to understand and respect where their food comes from.
Shanna_redwind
Feb 28, 2013 Shanna_redwind rated it it was amazing
What a fabulous book, compiling many first hand accounts written by actual Kansas Pioneer women into a very readable book.

Pioneer women is well organized into distinct sections so that the diverse stories of the settlers could be brought together into a cohesive story. The chapters focus on different aspects of the pioneer life, from the houses, to a pioneer childhood, to the effects of the Civil War. All of the information is based on the first hand accounts in the Lilla Day Monroe Collection o
...more
Nan
Jan 20, 2016 Nan rated it really liked it
I'm encouraged by the steadfast example of these pioneer women of the Kansas frontier. This book is an enjoyable read.
Peggy Kopman-Owens
Oct 04, 2013 Peggy Kopman-Owens rated it it was amazing
Joanna L. Stratton's PIONEER WOMEN: Voices from the Kansas Frontier is a must read. The stories Ms. Stratton artfully weaves, creating a history that spans more than fifty years, are humbling and inspiring. Using the letters and diaries of those women, who survived the dangers, the loneliness, and harshness of the prairies long enough to write about their experiences, Ms. Stratton presents her readers with a literary treasure. Many thanks go to Joanna L. Stratton for saving what might have becom ...more
Lee Yahnker
Sep 19, 2015 Lee Yahnker rated it liked it
True accounts of women's experience as they settled in Kansas in the late 1880's.
Sarah Goodwin
Oct 28, 2013 Sarah Goodwin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uh-merica
I'm reading a lot about pioneer history as research and man, this is a really, really good book for that. It's packed with information but so gentle in style that it all just goes into your brain effortlessly.

There's a lot of personal experience in the book, anecdotes from lots of different women and their families, which is great. Some sections dragged a little, for example, the cowboy portion, but mainly that's because I'm not researching that.

A great read, good, solid book.
 Rev. Bobbie
Sep 01, 2008 Rev. Bobbie rated it it was amazing
Our Mother's stories. We are often thought to be brave but this story teaches us what energy and hope surrounded the women who were first on the prairie to live, thrive and survive. It was not just the poverty of things, food, shelter, clothing it was the aching for family left behind and friendships at a distance. Lonely and courageous they stayed and prospered and raised families and lived before us.
Could we survive such an existence? I'm not sure. Enjoy
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