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Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  321 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Pioneer Women provides a rare look at frontier life through the eyes of the pioneer women who settled the American West. Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith vividly describe the hardships such women endured journeying west and making homes and communities on the frontier. Their hopes and fears and, most of all, their courage in the face of adversity are revealed in excerpts from ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 15th 1998 by University of Oklahoma Press (first published 1996)
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83rd out of 340 books — 173 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 958)
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Aug 01, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok
Shelves: photography, history
This is a short book but it took me forever to read. At first I felt bad about that, thinking that it was because I'm so lazy that even reading about pioneers makes me exhausted, but as it turns out the real reason was that this book is fairly boring, contains little more information than what you'd find in the chapter on Manifest Destiny in your high school history textbook, and it's not particularly well-written.

It seems that originally this was supposed to be a book of photography, and althou
May 28, 2014 Shelly rated it it was amazing
Delivered exactly what I wanted to learn. Comprehensive presentation that included a large amount of actual writings from pioneer women's own pens, interesting portraits and also "on-the-scene" photographs I've never seen before, though I appreciate the authors pointed out the challenge of trying to get a completely accurate and balanced story when the letters may be rosier than reality, photographs may be a slightly staged to present their best side, and interviews describe memories that may be ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Marta rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book in Montana just after returning from backpacking in Tetons. It was a fitting and tremendously enjoyable read in that setting - campfire, outdoors, Yellowstone, in the land where these pioneer women traveled and lived, but without the comforts of the car, gas stove, REI mattress and sporty clothes. Not much is known about why women went to the west and how they survived, thrived and changed it. As authors point out, the world of pioneers has largely been his-story, and altho ...more
Rose Ann
May 08, 2015 Rose Ann rated it it was ok
A not particularly well-done overview of the lives of women as the country was being settled.
Nov 16, 2008 Melinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure
This book is a wonderful mix of pictures and stories about the women who helped settle and civilize the west. Interestingly divided into :the journey west (how they really traveled in those wagons!), a home in the west (how to set up house and feed and clothe your family FROM SCRATCH!), behind closed doors (family dynamics, illness, death, estrangement, solitude, work, etc.), the work of women's hands (just what were all the jobs a woman had to take care of on a daily basis?), and lastly molders ...more
Aug 22, 2015 Truff rated it it was ok
I picked up this book, wanting a book about the pioneer experience. It's written from a feminist slant, which automatically turns me off. Yes, women were there and experienced and helped settle the west, blah blah, Women are great and do wonderful things, they deserve participation trophies.

Book had great photos but the text was ignorable.
Holly Weiss
Jul 14, 2013 Holly Weiss rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
The roles women played in the American Western Pioneer experience. The book 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.

I wanted to add this book to my dissertation for HF PhD in American Pioneer
Kelly Bania
Mar 13, 2008 Kelly Bania rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lex, Lynne
Picked this up on a trip to Arizona. I liked the idea of the book because our educational system is not set up to acknowledge women had any part of the formation of any society, but as women make up more than half the population of the humans on this planet, any reasonable person would know this to be simply impossible. This book is a good start for someone looking for an overview of the study of pioneer women. Its a coffee table book, so don't expect any sort of academic dissertations. It has i ...more
Wendy Quest
Jan 19, 2016 Wendy Quest rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research, nonfiction
This is a wonderful reference to women moving to the western frontier, setting up their homes and families, and surviving with so little resources or experience. Terrific photographs.
I generally shy away from anything to do with old west. Perhaps it is the overstimulization from growing up in the kansas/oklahoma region. From The wilders to the Creek and Osage indians I just found it frankly a little cliche and boring.

This book offers a fresh and enlightening view of the frontier from a womans perspective. The photographs are candid and really make the people seem more real and less pose-no-smile-portraits.

I really drew strength from many of the stories of woman who were sepe
Jan 11, 2012 Carolina rated it really liked it
This book is excellent for anyone interested in an overview of American Westward expansion. Unlike most books on this subject, the focus is on the women of the West and what they did to help shape the nation. But to make this book even more relevant, the writer picked stories of women from all walks of life and cultures - white, black, Indian, Asian, Mexican, poor, rich, educated, uneducated. She clearly tried to represent the rich diversity of women that lived on the American frontier. This hon ...more
Mary Kinietz
Jan 04, 2015 Mary Kinietz rated it really liked it
Lots of photographs of both ordinary and famous women of the time.
Liz Ellis
Oct 05, 2009 Liz Ellis rated it liked it
I thought the photos were awesome and showed the mud and filth in which the women worked and lived on the prairie. The stories were also candid and told personal stories.

Had a hard time with the authors making comments about the women "sharing the work with men" when they worked beside their husbands in the fields. There is no "sharing" when you are still responsible for bearing and rearing children, cooking, clothing, cleaning, getting water, etc., etc.

These women were very strong and that does
Vonze (Yvonne)
Nov 08, 2012 Vonze (Yvonne) rated it it was amazing
Foremost, this book was great because of the old photographs. I never knew such clear, vivid day-to-day photographs of pioneer women existed. I would have bought it just for the photos, honestly. It also has great information and primary sources from diaries of pioneer women. I learned a lot about their daily tasks. The section on childbirth in the wilderness was a first for me, but answered questions I've always wanted to know! I think it's a must for anyone wanting to learn about or research w ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Ciara rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
My very favorite thing about this book is the cover photo, and the author's explanation of this. Because I have read a huge number of pioneer stories, this one was mostly covered by other books I have read previously. However, many of the photographs were new to me, and quite enjoyable. For someone who hasn't had as much exposure to women pioneer diaries, there are some wonderful stories included in this book.
Jun 08, 2011 Cody rated it it was amazing
The hauntingly beautiful cover image hooked me into a lovely impulse buy at the Palo Duro Canyon Texas Intreprative Center. I kept seeing this woman reverberating throughout the lives of women profiled in the book. Since reading it, I see her resonating in the strong & good women around me in my own time. So worth the indulging my curiousity!
Sarah Goodwin
Oct 28, 2013 Sarah Goodwin rated it liked it
I was slightly dissapointed with this book, as it felt a little coffee-table like, with all the pictures. There was quite a bit of text as well, but it didn't go as deep as I would have liked, still, very interesting and a good general overview. The pictures were also great.
Jul 27, 2014 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Beautiful photos and intricate biographical information present women's experiences on the frontier. Includes rarely-heard stories of managing pregnancy and childbirth on the wagon trail. The lives of hispanic, native, and black women are represented as well.
Nov 19, 2011 April rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating glimpse into the different facets of the lives of female pioneers. Even though it's not in depth, I learned a lot. I absolutely love all of the pictures. The cover picture is probably my favorite. Beautiful and haunting at the same time.
Apr 18, 2008 Rory rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs-and-bios
Again, I'm reading a bunch of stuff to get ready for a Laura Ingalls Wilder party I'm hosting at the library. Funny, but this book didn't produce quite as many warm-fuzzies as Wilder's prose and Garth Williams' illustrations always do. Still.
Aug 06, 2011 Anne added it
This book really brought it home how hard pioneer life was on women. NO, I would not like to time travel back to the olden days. Give me all my modern conveniences any time. Anything is better than a buffalo dung fire!
Jan 09, 2013 Carol rated it liked it
Lots of little biographies, cool pictures, interesting anecdotes. This book helped me to remember that when I complain about having to put my washing machine on a second spin cycle, I am a moron.
Oct 17, 2011 Daisymay rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The photos are fantastic and must have been a huge undertaking to find, and the text is accessible and entertaining. It makes you realise just what women went through.
Judy Taylor
Oct 25, 2012 Judy Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historic
Admiration is the first word that comes to mind. A truly remarkable discriptive account of so many courageous women & their contribution to our lives & our country.
What I learned? Another name for cow pies: meadow muffins. (I love research! As you can tell by the number of books I'm about to add...)
Sep 18, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
This book is awesome! Giving all sorts of information about how women lived during the rough wild west days.
Feb 10, 2012 Gina rated it it was amazing
incredible photos + narratives about women's lives on the frontiers and wagon trails
Jun 05, 2008 Lynette rated it it was amazing
Good general overview. Pictures were great. Will be investigating some of the women.
Sep 17, 2013 Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought-2012, box-498
$8.00 used hardback, clean, with dust jacket. inscribed inside first page.
Aug 14, 2009 Ruth rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Wonderful pictorial history and commentary. (Not only LDS pioneers.)
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