Though uncomfortably silent on the impact westward expansion had on the people already living there, I loved this book First hand accounts of life on the prairie, carefully edited into a compelling and readable package because, face it, most people s journals my own included can be kind of rubbish A woman s experience of the west is vastly different from what we see in films, and this book is a good reminder that the next time you see John Wayne rock up to the farm house table, you better think about who fed and watered the cow, milked it, and the churned the butter to make those damn biscuits And who got every morning without fail to feed the chickens that laid the eggs And who saved every scrap to feed the pig to make the bacon It s all very well going out on some wild western adventure, but women carried the burden of getting food on the table in the middle of Nowhere ville, Barely even the usa yet and it was a monumentally heroic undertaking And yet their are no monuments. I picked this book up because I love reading about history or Herstory in this case The women s diaries were very interesting, but less than half of the book is devoted to them The first half reads like poorly organized notes for a college paper I was surprised that it was written by a Professor Emerita I had to force myself to keep reading until I got to the diaries I did enjoy the diaries and glimpses into lives that I could only imagine I know I would not have had the fortitude to make that journey. More Than A Quarter Of A Million Americans Crossed The Continental United States Between And , Going West In One Of The Greatest Migrations Of Modern Times The Frontiersmen Have Become An Integral Part Of Our History And Folklore, But The Westering Experiences Of American Women Are Equally Central To An Accurate Picture Of What Life Was Like On The FrontierThrough The Diaries, Letters, And Reminiscences Of Women Who Participated In This Migration, Women S Diaries Of The Westward Journey Gives Us Primary Source Material On The Lives Of These Women, Who Kept Campfires Burning With Buffalo Chips And Dried Weeds, Gave Birth To And Cared For Children Along Primitive And Dangerous Roads, Drove Teams Of Oxen, Picked Berries, Milked Cows, And Cooked Meals In The Middle Of A Wilderness That Was A Far Cry From The Homes They Had Left Back East Still And Often Under The Disapproving Eyes Of Their Husbands They Found Time To Write Brave Letters Home Or To Jot A Few Weary Lines At Night Into The Diaries That Continue To Enthrall UsIn Her New Foreword, Professor Mary Clearman Blew Explores The Enduring Fascination With This Subject Among Both Historians And The General Public, And Places Schlissel S Groundbreaking Work Into An Intriguing Historical And Cultural Context I love books like this excerpts from actual diaries of women who traveled to Oregon California from the east Plus, the editor had really done her research on these 94 women, to the extent of adding notes that made their difficult situations even enlightening For example, when Amelia Stewart White writes of having to climb out of the wagon to make it lighter and stumble for 3 miles through mud, over rocks, and being slapped by branches, she fails to mention that she is eight months pregnant and also carrying her two year old By the time I finished this book, I swore I would never whine about household inconveniences again. Written from an anthropological point of view than from a diaries themselves, this book makes many interesting observations about the motivations and situations of women who traveled in the overland journey, whether seeking gold in California, land in Oregon, or just moving toward what they hoped would be a better future They were overwhelmingly young and their lives were made so difficult by the choice often not theirs to move and travel in this fashion Interesting and informative. I first learned about this book when I read the credits from a 10,000 Maniacs CD An excerpt from the book was the spoken introduction to the Gold Rush Brides The diary entries are from Women who traveled with their families west to find a better life One of my favorite entries tells about how women retold events that happened on their journey different than men did Men often made the events dramatic than how the woman saw them Loved this book. I found this book in the Family Search Genealogy Library where I work and found it fascinating These women went through so many hard situations in their lives I love reading about life through the eyes of many different perspectives and really enjoyed these women s views of life on the dusty trail as they search to find a better life for their families. Definitely interesting, however the stories got repetitive after a while New names every page, they started to blur together Totally appreciate the author s research efforts to pull together all of these journals of such an incredible journey across the US. Ever wonder why 19th century American women who were reasonably comfortable in their lives would want to leave loved ones behind, perhaps forever, and endure the considerable dangers and hardships of the westward migration to Oregon or California Well, they didn t want to the author quotes their actual words to make the case that most went only because fathers or husbands insisted Girls, most of whom married in their mid teens, and their mothers really didn t have a choice They also didn t get any postponement if they were pregnant or had young children women were just expected to make do, even when it meant giving birth in open country with no support and traveling on the next day And it often meant losing a loved one, child or adult, through accident or disease, who would probably have lived had they never set out on the trail Particularly dangerous were the numerous river crossings and periodic outbreaks of cholera.The author has woven together the accounts of many women so that, unlike reading a lengthy diary containing much tedium, we get just the highlights and can easily compare one woman s experience with another s This very readable approach is heightened by the accompanying photographs of most of the women, so we can look into their eyes These are amazing and unforgettable accounts. After reading this great book I have so much admiration for these pioneer women The whole giving birth on the way west experience is beyond comprehension for me but these were very tough women If you re seeking information about the westward migration this book is for you.
Lillian Schlissel is professor emerita of Brooklyn College CUNY, where she was director of American studies Her books include Women s Diaries of the Westward Journey Far From Home Families of the Westward Journey, written with Byrd Gibbens and Elizabeth Hampsten, Western Women, Their Land, Their Lives and Western Women s Reader with Catherine Lavender Schlissel is a member of the editorial
- 278 pages
- Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey
- Lillian Schlissel
- 15 November 2019 Lillian Schlissel