Land of Many Hands

Land of Many Hands : Women in the American West

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"Come along, come along--don't be alarmed, /Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm."--popular 1852 camp song From 1840 to 1910, the western region of the United States was the stage for dramatic and often tumultuous encounters between people of diverse cultural backgrounds. This was a period of feverish development of western lands, often with tragic consequences for native peoples as homesteaders encroached upon ancient lands and cultures. American women--Hispanic, African-American, Asian, and European whites--played a prominent role in the migration out West. They raised families, plowed land and planted corn, panned for gold and cleared forests for new homes, opened schools and ran boardinghouses and saloons, became ranchers, missionaries, journalists, peddlers, and trail guides. Women helped to build communities and push the boundaries of the United States to the Pacific. They came west as homesteaders and teachers, artists and journalists, prostitutes and outlaws, physicians and activists, domestics and nursemaids, and a myriad of other occupations. And wherever they settled they left an indelible mark on the land and on the nation's destiny. In Land of Many Hands, author Harriet Sigerman uncovers the fascinating stories of women in the American West using primary sources and documents (many never before published). Among the women featured are: Sarah Winnemucca, spokeswoman for the Piutes; women's rights activist Abigail Scott Duniway of Oregon; Narcissa Whitman, missionary to the Cayuse Indians of Oregon; Alice Fletcher, pioneer anthropologist, an advocate for the Omaha and Nez Perce Indians; Mary Elizabeth Blair, an African-American real estate agent; journalists Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard of San Francisco and Charlotte Spears Bass of Los Angeles; Mary Josephine Welch ("Chicago Joe"), proprietor of the Red Light Saloon in Helena, Montana; Mary E. Lease, orator for the populist party; and Mrs. E. J. Guerin ("Mountain Charley"), a trail guide who made her living disguised as a man."show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 188 pages
  • 175.3 x 243.8 x 20.3mm | 544.32g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195099427
  • 9780195099423

Review quote

"A pleasant addition to the ever-growing information about western women of little renown... Sigerman should be commended for weaving the patterns of cultural diversity into the text.... The writing style is engaging... A book withwide appeal for the young reader or for non-academics, and it deserves to enjoy wide celebrity among those audiences. It should be added to every high school library."--Journal of American History"With respect and dignity, Sigerman illuminates the struggles and triumphs of each group, from discrimination against African Americans and exploitation of Hispanics to the successes of writer Willa Cather and painter Georgia O'Keeffe. Well researched and loaded with firsthand accounts of daily life, this volume goes beyond the surface of westward migration to reveal the underlying challenge of turning the West into a home."--School Library Journal"Well-researched... with fascinating quotations...a wonderful bibliography... Sigerman has done a good job of pulling volumes of source material into a brief, readable narrative..."--VOYA"An attractive, readable, up-to-date overview."--Journal of the Westshow more

About Harriet Sigerman

Harriet Sigerman is a historian and freelance writer who has contributed to The Young Oxford History of Women in the United States. She has been a research assistant to Henry Steele Commager at Amherst College and for the Stanton-Anthony Papers at the University of Massachusetts. She lives in New more

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