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Pioneer Women

Pioneer Women

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 women who civilized the American frontier. Here are their stories: wilderness mothers, schoolmarms, Indian squaws, immigrants, homesteaders, and circuit riders. Their personal recollections of prairie fires, locust plagues, cowboy shootouts, Indian raids, and blizzards on the plains vividly reveal the drama, danger and excitement of the pioneer experience.

These were women of relentless determination, whose tenacity helped them to conquer loneliness and privation. Their work was the work of survival, it demanded as much from them as from their men—and at last that partnership has been recognized. “These voices are haunting” (The New York Times Book Review), and they reveal the special heroism and industriousness of pioneer women as never before.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671447489 | 
  • September 1982
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

To the Stars Through the Wilderness

The Journey


"Pioneering is really a wilderness experience. We all need the wisdom of the wilderness -- Moses did, Jesus did, and Paul did. The wilderness is the place to find God, and the city is the place to study the multitude; a knowledge of both makes master builders for the state and nation."

Lulu Fuhr

They called it "the Great American Desert." In the eyes of early explorers, Kansas appeared to be little more than an arid wasteland, unfit for cultivation and unsuitable for habitation. As a result, the Kansas wilderness remained relatively... see more

About the Author

Joanna Stratton

Joanna L. Stratton was born and raised in Washington, DC, but considers Kansas and her family there as her second home. She began her work on Pioneer Women while attending Harvard College, from which she graduated with honors in 1976. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at Stanford University.

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