Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier

March 03, 2016 Posted by: Tom Dewey, Librarian

Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier. Edited by Joanna L. Stratton. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.

Joanna Stratton has created a remarkable book filled with stories of women on the frontier.Pioneer Women: Voices From the Kansas Frontieris a treasure trove of material for anyone interested in the pioneer west, especially from a woman’s perspective.

Stratton rediscovered a collection of autobiographical accounts written by hundreds of Kansas pioneer women in the early twentieth century. Her great-grandmother, Lilla Day Monroe, collected the stories from other surviving pioneers in the 1920s. Monroe was never able to publish the material during her lifetime.Stratton stumbled onto the material in a relative’s file cabinet in the mid-1970s.

Pioneer Women offers a rare glimpse at the courage it took to civilize the American frontier.

Stratton says, “It is a personal account of the pioneer experience, described by those for whom “history” was nothing more than daily life. It is an intimate look inside the dugouts and the soddies, the schools and the barnyards, the stores and the churches of early Kansas. It is an examination of families and friendships, communities and congregations, sewing circles and temperance unions. It is a history written through loneliness and deprivation, but guided by courage and stamina.”

The women featured in these stories had an abundance of determination and tenacity.Stratton has selected a variety of women’s stories from all three waves of emigration, from 1854-1890. This provides readers with rich and compelling viewpoints from various stages of the emigrant experience.


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Last updated: March 3, 2016

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